Mazda MX-30 R-EV review

Category: Small SUV

The plug-in hybrid MX-30 is good to drive and relatively cheap to run

Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear cornering
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV boot open
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front cornering
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front cornering
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear right static
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV headlights detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV alloy wheel detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV PHEV badge
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear lights detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV doors open
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior front seats
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior back seats
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior infotainment
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear cornering
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV boot open
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front cornering
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV front cornering
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear right driving
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear right static
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV headlights detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV alloy wheel detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV PHEV badge
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear lights detail
  • Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV doors open
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior front seats
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior back seats
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior infotainment
  • Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The arrival of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is a great example of the phrase "better late than never". You see, this plug-in hybrid small SUV – arriving a few years after the fully electric Mazda MX-30 – appears to have been worth the wait.

While the pure electric version has an official range of just 124 miles, the R-EV has a smaller battery but adds a compact petrol engine and a 50-litre fuel tank to give a total range of around 400 miles. That makes the R-EV far more flexible for buyers who want the option of doing long journeys without worrying about charging up.

Other than a couple of details, the R-EV looks just like the EV. To tell the difference, you'll need to look out for badges on the front wings, a badge on the boot, wheels that come in a darker finish and the absence of a green strip on the numberplates.

So, is the Mazda MX-30 R-EV the best version to go for, and how does it compare with rival plug-in hybrid SUVs? Read on to find out...

Overview

There are more practical plug-in hybrid SUVs out there, but if space isn’t a high priority, the Mazda MX-30 drives well and has a smart, well-equipped interior. The R-EV version is far more usable than its EV counterpart, too. The battery is large enough to cover short trips on pure electric power, while the petrol engine allows you to venture beyond town and city life without worrying about plugging in.

  • Good ride and handling balance
  • Great infotainment system
  • Smart interior
  • Poor rear-seat space
  • Limited rear visibility
  • Average resale values
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

While other plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have conventional combustion engines with pistons, the Mazda MX-30 R-EV has a tiny, 830cc lightweight rotary engine.

This curious beast has spinning rotors in place of pistons, making it smaller, smoother and lighter than a conventional engine. Mazda once put rotaries in sports cars (remember the Mazda RX-8?), in which they sacrificed economy for performance, but the engine’s new mission is to be an appealing option for those who can’t go fully electric yet.

The engine never drives the wheels directly. Instead, it acts as a generator to top up the 17.8kWh battery that powers the electric motor. As a result, you still get the electric motor’s low-down shove right from the get-go, delivered in a smooth manner. Such a set-up is nothing new – the Nissan Qashqai e-Power uses a conventional engine to do a similar job.

The R-EV is more powerful and quicker than the all-electric Mazda MX-30 EV. With 168bhp compared with 143bhp, it has a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.1 seconds (against 9.7 for the EV).

That makes it better suited to getting you past slow-moving traffic, and makes the MX-30 slightly quicker than the Kia Niro PHEV. A DS 4 E-Tense is quicker, although it’s worth noting that faster plug-in hybrids rely heavily on their petrol engines to unlock the extra performance, which further eats into fuel economy. 

On a full charge, the R-EV’s battery has an official range of 53 miles. That’s more than the official 32 miles you get from a PHEV MG HS and 38 miles of the Niro PHEV and DS4 E-Tense. 

Mazda MX-30 image
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In most respects, the MX-30 R-EV drives really well. Like the Niro PHEV, the suspension is on the firmer side of things, but it still does a good job of soaking up road imperfections. The flipside is that body movements over undulations are better controlled than in the DS 4 E-Tense and it's less bouncy as a result. 

When it comes to cornering, body lean is well contained and you can trust that it’s not going to be knocked off its line mid-bend. That, combined with well-weighted steering, means the R-EV is a good drive on a twisty road.

The brake pedal requires a bit more pressure than the one in the DS 4 E-Tense, but its more precise response makes it easier to stop smoothly. As with the MX-30 EV, you can pull a paddle on the steering wheel to increase the regenerative braking effect to help out (and recover energy to top up the battery when you lift off the accelerator pedal) by pulling a paddle on the steering wheel.

At a motorway cruise, wind and tyre noise are kept to a minimum. Meanwhile, you don't hear any whine from the electric motor and the suspension only tends to thump over larger bumps.

There’s a minor level of vibration from the R-EV’s engine when it fires up and hums away in the background, but the MX-30 is a calm way to get from A to B.

"The power delivery from the MX-30 is smooth, and so is the ride; the suspension soaks up most bumps and potholes in a calm and sophisticated way. With wellweighted steering and good body control, it is enjoyable to drive along a twisty road, too," Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Driving overview 

Strengths Comfortable ride; good handling; little wind or road noise

Weaknesses Not very quick

Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Other than a fuel gauge on the driver’s instrument cluster and a drive mode selector by the gear lever to select Hybrid, EV or Charge mode, the Mazda MX-30 R-EV’s interior is the same as in its all-electric counterpart.

That’s good news, because the interior is one of the model's biggest strengths. It’s beautifully made, with a mix of materials, ranging from cork inlays to "vegan leather" and repurposed denim.

The driving position is terrific, with plenty of steering wheel and seating adjustment, including adjustable lumbar support. You get electric seat adjustment on all trims except for entry-level Prime-Line.

All versions come with three digital screens and a head-up display that projects key info on to the windscreen. The driver gets a 7.0in digital instrument panel and a climate control touchscreen of equal size mounted just below the main 8.8in infotainment screen.

While physical controls for the temperature settings would make life even easier, the MX-30 has buttons either side of the display for temperature and fan speed to help out. So, while it’s not quite as straightforward to operate as those in the much larger (and pricier) Audi Q3, the MX-30’s controls are still far less distracting to use than those in the DS 4’s.

The MX-30 R-EV’s 8.8in infotainment system is very intuitive too. It’s easy to sift through the simple menus with its BMW-style rotary controller allowing you to scroll down lists quickly and precisely to help you keep your eyes on the road.

All trim levels come with built-in sat-nav but there’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring if you’d prefer to use your own apps. The range-topping Makoto trim replaces the standard eight-speaker stereo with a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound system.

The main area of weakness for the MX-30 R-EV comes down to visibility. Looking out of the front is fine, but the small rear windows and wide rear pillars do hamper rear vision. At least all versions come with front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as a rear-view camera (or a 360-degree one on Makoto trim).

LED headlights come as standard on all versions, while Makoto adds adaptive LEDs that can stay on full beam without dazzling other drivers.

"The MX-30’s and is as chic and elegant as an architect’s office. Fantastic build quality and luxurious materials are complemented by one of the best infotainment systems around, thanks in part to the intuitive rotary controller," Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior overview 

Strengths Great infotainment system; classy interior; good build quality

Weaknesses Limited rear visibility

Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

With plenty of leg, head and shoulder room, tall occupants will be comfortable sitting in the front of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

There’s plenty of space to store smaller items, with a big glovebox, a lidded storage cubby that doubles as an armrest, two lidded cupholders and a lower-tiered tray lined with grippy cork to prevent smaller items from rattling or sliding around.

The news isn’t so great for rear-seat occupants. Some will undoubtedly enjoy the drama of its reverse-hinged rear doors, but you have to open the front ones first, which can prove tricky in narrow parking bays.

Meanwhile, space is quite tight for anyone near six feet tall sitting behind an equal sized occupant. There’s adequate head room, but little clearance for their knees from the front seat. The raised floor means there’s barely any space for feet under the front seats.  

When you factor in the small rear windows, the MX-30 R-EV quickly feels confined and you’ll be better off in many other small SUVs even if you just consider the ease of access with conventional rear doors. 

Mid-spec models and above that come fitted with an electric driver’s seat also have additional switches on the seat back. They allow a rear passenger to move the front seat forward to free up some room for exiting, but there’s no denying it’s still a fiddly process. 

With a 350-litre capacity (or 332 litres when you have the Bose stereo), the MX-30 R-EV’s boot is on a par with the Kia Niro PHEV’s 348 litres, but trails the DS 4 E-Tense’s 390 litres.

The load area is a nice uniform shape, but you’ll fit little more than a few bags of shopping in the boot. At least the 60/40-split rear seats lie flat when folded. There isn’t a dedicated space for the charging cables.

"Practicality isn’t the MX-30’s forte. Its small, rear-hinged rear doors can be very impractical, and the rear seats are cramped for adults," Steve Huntingford, Editor

Practicality overview 

Strengths Spacious in the front; lots of handy in-car storage

Weaknesses Tight in the back; poor rear access; small boot

Red Mazda MX-30 R-EV boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Prices for the Mazda MX-30 R-EV are the same as for the EV version, with the entry-level trim undercutting the DS 4 E-Tense and the Kia Niro PHEV, and costing a similar amount to an MG HS PHEV. To make sure you get the best price – whichever model you buy – see our New Car Deals pages.

Our preferred trim is the entry-level Prime-Line, which comes pretty well equipped with 18in alloy wheels, climate control, adaptive cruise control and automatic windscreen wipers.

Upgrading to the mid-spec Exclusive-Line trim doesn’t require a huge increase in outlay, and adds keyless entry, heated front seats, part-faux-leather upholstery, rear privacy glass and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Meanwhile, top-spec Makoto trim brings a heated steering wheel, a sunroof and adaptive LED headlights.

The R-EV will lose its value more slowly than the EV version, but when compared with other PHEV SUVs, it’s on a par with the DS 4 E-Tense. A Niro PHEV will be worth more after three years.

As with other PHEVs, you’ll have to charge up the MX-30 R-EV’s battery as much as possible and make full use of the 53-mile electric range to get near the official average fuel-economy figure – which is up to an impressive 283mpg.

True, the EV version is the cheaper option as a company car due to its zero CO2 emissions, but the R-EV officially produces just 21g/km of CO2 and its battery range keeps BIK tax costs low compared with rivals. Its low P11D price also helps.

Recharging the MX-30 R-EV’s battery from 20-80% takes around 25 minutes if you can find a suitably powerful rapid charger to reach its maximum 36kW charging speed. That’s pretty good compared with more expensive PHEVs (plenty of them don’t come fitted with a rapid charging socket).

A Niro PHEV can charge at a much slower 3.3kW, and takes nearly three hours for a 0-100% charge. A DS-4 E-Tense takes about 1hr 40min with a home wallbox.

All MX-30 R-EVs come with a three-year/60,000 miles warranty, plus an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty specifically for the drive battery. Mazda did well as a brand in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing in 13th place out of 32 car manufacturers – below Kia, but above Peugeot, Citroen and Volkswagen.

When the MX-30 was tested by safety experts from Euro NCAP, it was awarded the maximum five-star rating, with impressive levels of protection for adult occupants in particular.

Standard safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, a driver attention alert system and lane-keeping assistance. Makoto trim adds rear cross-traffic assistance, which can apply the brakes if you’re reversing out of your drive into the path of another car.

"From a financial point of view, the MX-30 R-EV makes more sense than a lot of PHEVs, especially for private buyers. It's cheap to fill up (especially if you mainly do short journeys), and it substantially undercuts most rivals on price," Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Lots of standard luxuries and safety kit; good reliability record

Weaknesses Quicker depreciation than some rivals

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Mazda MX-30 R-EV interior dashboard

FAQs

  • The MX-30 R-EV can officially go up to 53 miles on electricity alone when the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) battery has been fully charged up.

  • Yes, based on its size, we class the MX-30 R-EV plug-in hybrid as a small SUV. You can also buy an electric SUV version – see our Mazda MX-30 EV review.

  • No – while it was initially launched as an electric SUV only, the MX-30 is now also available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) small SUV, badged MX-30 R-EV. This review covers the PHEV – for the all-electric model, see our Mazda MX-30 EV review.

At a glance
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RRP price range £27,995 - £35,895
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, petrol series phev
MPG range across all versions 282.5 - 282.5
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £56 / £65
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £112 / £129
Available colours