Mazda MX-30 long-term test review
Mazda's first fully electric SUV aims to prove that less is more. Over the past few months, we've been finding out if the MX-30 succeeds...
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 minimal compromises compared with a combustion-engined car
Mileage 1162 List price £30,545 Target Price £29,686 Price as tested £32,045 Test range 122 miles Dealer price now £27,787 Private price now £24,699 Trade-in price now £24,750 Running cost £84.95
18 February 2022 – An unexpected ending
And there you have it, six months with my Mazda MX-30 have gone by in a flash and with that, an end to one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had with a car. One that continuously challenged what I thought I wanted and needed from an electric vehicle (EV). As to whether it's proof that less is more – let’s answer that right now.
I must confess, the moment the MX-30 was first revealed I wanted to run one. Those concept car looks, the eco space age interior and, having driven the petrol-powered Mazda CX-30, the promise of tidy, car-like handling.
But perhaps the biggest attraction was the chance to understand the concept of this car better. It doesn't merely look different to anything else on the road – the package itself is like nothing I've seen before. The fairly conservative range, larger family SUV proportions and quirky Mazda RX-8-style rear-hinged doors immediately stood out.
The MX-30 is supposed to be an “urban runaround” (exemplified by the 124-mile range) yet it’s too large to fully justify that title. With all that mass, I was expecting a seriously spacious SUV inside, and while I was never wanting for more room in the front, the rear seats were noticeably small, and hampered by awkward rear access, poky footwells and a sloping roofline.
Still, the longer I spent in the MX-30, the more I got into a rhythm with it and the more I could work with the quirky features. I found myself saying, “I know it can be a faff to get in and out of the back seats but I love these doors!”, realising quite quickly that you can make compromises, but only if that compromise works for you.
Those needing to put a baby seat in the back might want to look elsewhere, but in my world (that’s myself, my girlfriend, my immediate family, and the occasional friend), the doors were an exciting party piece with minimal interference.
There’s no doubt about it, though, its size irked me in town. My previous car was the smaller Renault Zoe, and I missed its urban proportions, although the MX-30's great rear-parking camera, responsive blind-spot monitors and sharp handling helped lessen the frustration.
There are real benefits to a larger car, too. For example, the boot is a lot more useful than it is in the Zoe and the BMW i3 – both cars explicitly designed for the city. From vacuum cleaners and suitcases to folding bikes and wooden flooring, there was seldom a load that demanded more space, especially with the rear seats folded flat.
Then there’s the space up front. It wasn’t only stunning to look at, but seriously spacious too, and made more appealing by spot-on ergonomics, considered cubbies and a perfectly positioned armrest.
The infotainment system was a total revelation, proving that simplicity is everything when you’re behind the wheel. It was fast, easy to operate on the move (thanks in part to its rotary controller) and refreshingly unfussy. In fact, it's second only to the fabulous BMW iDrive system, in my opinion.
Now to the range – undoubtedly the biggest question mark hanging over the MX-30 when it first arrived. The 124-mile official figure doesn’t instantly inspire confidence, and it meant I needed to top up more often. But with a light right foot, access to lamppost chargers on my street and an easy commute, I never felt the sweats of range anxiety.
Where it did make a difference was when I was wanted to use the car for longer journeys. A fairly standard 120-mile round trip to my girlfriend’s parents in Hove, for example, was simply unachievable without charging at the other end – something I didn’t have to worry about in the Zoe.
Electric cars still won’t suit everyone, and with its limited range, the MX-30 even less so, but if, like me, you spend the majority of your life between the high-rises, less can be more. You'll have to make compromises and the rear seats will be a deal-breaker for some, but if you’re looking for something unique, it's a refreshing take on the urban EV.
I do wish it could go further on a full battery – charging less often is naturally more convenient – but it isn’t a major problem, especially if you have access to a home or handy lamppost charger.
Where so many car manufacturers compete with variations on the same theme, the Mazda MX-30 stands out as a completely unconventional offering, and that’s a very good thing indeed. To my mind, it’s a future classic in the making.
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