Mazda MX-30 GT Sport Tech: long-term test review

First report: the delightfully different Mazda MX-30 EV opens up to reveal its charms – and a few weaknesses


  • 3.5 out of 5

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    Verdict

    No doubt about it: the Mazda MX-30 is a proper oddball. We’re entertained by elements of the cabin, but bemused by some of the other engineering decisions. It’s going to be interesting to see if we’re won over as the miles increase.

    • Mileage: 1,342
    • Efficiency: 3.3 miles per kWh
    • Where some manufacturers tend to do their car designs largely by the book, Mazda has long since lost its library card. The Japanese brand has a history of bold innovation, and the MX-30 continues that.

      This is a small SUV with an electric powertrain and a relatively small 35.5kWh battery, delivering just 124 miles of range. It’s a five-door car but, like Mazda’s RX-8 sports car from the early noughties, the rear doors open the opposite way to the front ones, creating a wide opening with no B-pillars. There’s a long bonnet with very little under it, a large boot and a classy cabin, finished with eco-friendly cork and recycled fabric, yet not blessed with a lot of rear passenger space.

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      Mazda is confident that there’s a ready market out there for this non-conformist creation. A long-term test would seem the perfect vehicle to discover if it’s right.

      Our MX-30 is a GT Sport Tech model with a £32,145 price tag after the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant has been deducted. It sounds like a lot of money for a small SUV but this is the top-spec model in a range that opens at just over £26,000, and it leaves very little off the equipment list.

      Get into the driver’s seat and the MX-30 continues to raise eyebrows. First, the cork. The storage areas are lined with sustainably sourced sheets of the stuff and it’s a measure of the MX-30’s unique approach that this isn’t the only feature of the car that makes you wonder just how much wine they must be drinking at Mazda HQ.

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      There are more interesting – and eco-friendly – material choices on the window sills and the seats, with our car getting the ‘light grey cloth with stone Leatherette’ interior. It looks great so far but how will it shape up after sustained use?

      The general design and build quality inside the MX-30 are real strengths. But things do come unstuck when you get to grips with the practicalities of it. In the front you can get a really comfortable driving position, with lots of adjustment on the seat and steering column, but rear legroom is really poor compared with many rivals. At just over six feet tall, I have to seriously sacrifice that ideal driving position to get the kids in the back. Plus once you’re in those rear seats, the chunky window frames on the doors make it quite dark in there.

      At 4,395mm long by 1,795mm wide, the MX-30 actually has a footprint that’s larger than the likes of the Vauxhall Mokka-e and Hyundai Kona Electric, but translates that into significantly less rear passenger room.

      The boot is a big 341 litres, but it’s the large and largely empty area under the long bonnet that wastes the space. Presumably that room is being saved for the petrol-powered range-extender generator that is heavily tipped to join the MX-30 range in due course.

      One of the main benefits of electric cars is the relatively compact size of the motor and batteries, allowing more space to be given over to people. And while the MX-30, Mokka-e and Kona Electric are not based on purpose-designed EV platforms, the Mazda definitely does the least efficient job of delivering on those advantages. If you look at the VW ID.3 you’ll find a car on an EV platform that’s 134mm shorter and 14mm wider than the MX-30, yet has massively more space for passengers inside. 

      And finally we come to the car’s range. Officially you can get 124 miles out of the Mazda MX-30 on a full charge. So far, I’m getting closer to 110 miles in warm weather and mainly urban driving, which equates to about 3.3 miles per kWh.

      The small battery means it’s fast to charge (about 5h 30mins to go from empty to full on my 7.4kW wallbox charger, if you ever needed to do that) but that range figure is going to put doubts in the minds of some buyers. The Vauxhall Mokka-e and Peugeot e-2008 can manage 200 miles from their 50kWh batteries, while Hyundai’s Kona Electric can do either 189 miles with a 39kWh battery or 278 miles with a 64kWh.

      It’s early days for the MX-30 on our fleet, but already it’s showing an innate ability to divide opinion and not conform to the market. The doors, the range, the cabin space, the design – this is not your average small SUV and it feels like it’ll be a really interesting car to explore further. Could it be that Mazda really does know best? 

      Model: Mazda MX-30 GT Sport Tech
      On fleet since: April 2021
      Price new: £32,145 (after Govt. grant)
      Engine: Single 143bhp electric motor, 35.5kWh battery (30kWh usable)
      CO2/tax: 0g/km/£0
      Options: Three-tone metallic paint (£1,800)
      Insurance*: Group: 19/Quote: £418
      Mileage: 1,342
      Test efficiency: 3.3 miles per kWh
      Any problems? None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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