New Mazda MX-30 review
Can Mazda's first electric car offer more than just funky looks?
And make no mistake, the looks are pretty funky. The MX-30 shows clear family connections at both ends of the car, but Mazda took the current design language and gave it a good facelift. The tighter, more angular lines are present all throughout the car and the boot is very coupe-like, which makes the car stand out, but also eats into boot space, which at just 341 litres is less than VW's ID.3 and almost on par with the much smaller Renault ZOE.
Unfortunately the lack of practicality continues in the back of the cabin, starting with the unfathomable decision Mazda made, to use rear suicide doors, much like those featured on the legendary RX-8. The difference was, the RX-8 was a sports car, where the rear seats were seldom used for anything more than additional storage and the MX-30 is supposed to be a practical crossover SUV. Well unless you have small children, preferably without legs, they won't be very comfortable in the back of the MX-30, especially if the people in front are over 180cm tall. One other annoyance for people sitting in the back, is that the windows don't move. They don't go down or even swivel out, which can lead to the back feeling quite claustrophobic.
Moving finally to the front and this is where the MX-30 starts to come good. First things first, Mazda nailed the seating position in the MX-30. The electrically operated seat has a ton of adjustment, the side bolsters hold you in place really well and the seat is comfortable enough even on longer drives. The area where the MX-30 beats any of the other budget electric car brands, is the interior quality. Yes, there are weaker areas, like the A/C controls and the shifter surround, but overall it blows the likes of VW out of the water. An interesting choice was the use of cork, which was apparently Mazda's first ever product, on some surfaces. I personally like this quirky addition a lot. One area where the MX-30 falls short however, is the sound system. It didn't matter how I set the equalizer up or what song I was playing, it always lacked bass, which could end up being a deal breaker for some people.
One thing I really like, is the car's partly digital, partly analog dials. They are bright enough to see even in direct sunlight, offer up enough information and are designed in a very premium looking way, especially the power consumption indicator on the left. The main infotainment screen is positioned high up on the dash and is controlled by an old fashioned scroll wheel, which will help keep fingerprint smudges to a minimum. It is also easier to use while driving, although the system itself is not the most intuitive. Luckily the wired variants of Android Auto and Apple Carplay are available as standard. Below the central dashboard vents, you'll find the climate control screen, that is in one word, terrible. The screen is very low down, it is very dim and low resolution and just looks like it came out of a 2008 model year, not 2021.
So after sitting in the fantastic seat, closing the cork covered door and adjusting the 2008 A/C display, I was finally ready to take the MX-30 for a spin. And I was pleasantly surprised. The MX-30 has its battery mounted low in the car, which in turn means little to no body roll even in this high riding crossover SUV. The 143 horsepower electric motor powers the front wheels through a single-speed transmission and delivers enough oomph for day to day driving, just don't expect Tesla levels of acceleration. I think whoever is in charge of the MX-30 at Mazda, is a big fan of sci-fi movies, because the car pumps a very futuristic sound in the cabin when accelerating, so it sounds more like you are entering hyperspace in USS Enterprise, rather than merging onto the motorway in a Mazda. The suspension in the car is on the firmer side, which does suit the car's sporty character, but I would never describe it as uncomfortable. The car comes with all of the technology features you'd expect, adaptive cruise control, which works very well and will come to a complete stop, lane assist, matrix LED headlights and crucially, blind spot monitoring. The combination of the rear suicide doors and the sloping roof line, means rear visibility is non-existent. Luckily Mazda does offer a decent rear-view camera and parking sensors on both sides of the car as standard, to help with that problem.
One sticking point potential EV customers will have with the MX-30 is its range. According to WLTP the car offers just 200km of range, which compared to VW e-UP's 260km or ID.3's 550km, is not very much and unfortunately limits the MX-30 to being a mostly city bound car, not really fit for longer trips, even when using DC fast charging, which fills the MX-30 to 80% in under 40 minutes.
The Mazda MX-30 is a quirky, good-looking car, with a flawed, premium interior, that unfortunately does not offer enough in either range, practicality or performance to really stand out among the crowd and will probably be forgotten in a sea of other electric cars that offer more in either of the three categories, for a similar price. Speaking of the price, the car starts at 34,490€ for the base GT model.