Mazda MX-30 long-term test: report 3

Mazda's first fully electric SUV aims to prove that less is more. Over the next few months, we'll be finding out if it succeeds...

MX-30 long-termer in London

The car Mazda MX-30 145 Sport Lux Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager

Why it’s here To prove that it's both possible and preferable to run an electric car with a smaller range in the city without compromise.

Needs to be A comfortable commuter, with plenty of space for luggage and passengers, and provide minimal compromises compared with a combustion-engined car.

Mileage 787 List price £30,545 Target Price £29,588 Price as tested £32,045 Test range 100 miles

20 October 2021 – That old familiar feeling

A Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries, fizzy drink and an apple pie from that restaurant with the golden arches will cost you roughly £7.50, right? Well, for the same price, I can charge up my Mazda MX-30 from near-flat to full. It feels exciting to know I can drive more than 120 miles for little more than this calorific feast if the mood took me, but as a wise person once said, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

MX-30 charging receipt

Up until this point, I’ve spent most of my time in the city doing trips of three to five miles – journeys my MX-30 or, frankly, any half-decent e-bike can do with its eyes closed. Now however, with the What Car? office opening up, my 22-mile commute has returned and with it, a stark reminder that 'cheap' isn’t always clever.

You see, I’ve calculated that I’ll be able to do up to five days to and from the office before needing to charge. That might not sound too bad right now, but that’s a prediction based on ideal conditions and optimum electrical efficiency (more on that in a moment) and having already done a handful of journeys, I’m starting to worry.

The moment I get onto the dual carriageway, the range begins to drop faster than it would in slow-moving city traffic. Even with the regenerative braking system in its least invasive mode, and with the lightest of feather feet, I’m only managing to achieve 3.0 to 3.2 miles per kWh. Put simply, while I regularly see 124 miles of range after charging (echoing the Mazda’s official figure), I’m only able to travel 90-112 miles in the real world. Given how much I lift and coast and how frequently I use the regenerative braking paddles, I suspect I might have already hit my efficiency ceiling.

MX-30 low battery

It might sound like I’m being pedantic, but with a limited range to begin with, every mile matters in the MX-30, and that has resulted in me changing the way I drive and interact with the car – and not in a progressive way.

For one thing, I’m less inclined to use the seat heaters and climate control, both of which are responsible for nabbing a mile or two of range on any given journey. I’m also noticing my eye connecting with the range gauge more frequently than it should. Driving with almost scientific precision to eke out every last drop of juice, is, in a word, exhausting.

Having briefly jumped back into a Renault Zoe similar to the one I ran previously, I was instantly reminded of the freedom it afforded me. Up to 240 miles of electric range and a consistent 4.5 to 4.7 miles/kWh meant I could drive as I would normally do in any combustion-engined car, and it felt liberating.

MX-30 with Zoe

The point is, just because you have a short commute, or spend your time in the city centre (as I have done in the past couple of years), it doesn’t mean you want to spend your life at charging points. Suffice to say, as I return to the office, I know that will become a more frequent reality.

The neighbours haven’t complained about me hogging the lamp-post chargers yet, but I fear they might start to soon.

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