Mazda often dares to be different, and the all-new MX-30 is a prime example.
The Japanese company’s first all-electric model not only sports distinctive coupe-crossover styling, but dinky rear-opening back doors.
Then there’s its range. At 124 miles, it’s very much in the city EV sector, competing against the likes of the MG ZS, MINI Electric and Honda e.
A range extender version (similar concept to the BMW i3) will come along later, which will add a small rotary petrol engine to the existing 35.5kWh lithium ion battery pack.
Mazda’s logic for the pure electric version’s modest battery is fascinating. It argues that smaller batteries deliver most drivers with the necessary distance they need each day (the average UK commute is 26 miles) and they have a friendlier CO2 footprint over their lifetime than larger power packs.
The MX-30 can be charged using a home wall box in less than six hours, or topped up from 0-80% in 30-40 minutes using a 50kW rapid-charger.
If you haven’t been put off already (many motorists won’t consider switching to an EV unless the range is at least 250 miles), then let’s move onto the car’s quirky design.
Even though it’s about the same size as a SEAT Ateca with more than enough space for four full-sized doors, Mazda’s decided to dispense with the B-pillars and fit rear-hinged ‘freestyle’ doors (a nod to the classic RX-8 sports car). Back in the day, doors like this were known as ‘suicide doors’, but we’ll gloss over that.
From a practicality point of view, the difference here is that this is a family-sized car (not a coupe), so not being able to open the rear doors from inside or out (unless the front doors are opened first) is not ideal.
Also, these narrow doors make entry and exit from the back seats a challenge for full-sized adults, while rear passengers get a restricted side view, their windows don’t open, and legroom isn’t exactly generous.
That said, the MX-30 looks like no other car on the road and the interior is modern, minimalist and packed with tech.
It’s also eco-friendly with an emphasis on sustainable materials, including breathable fabric upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles and cork in the floating centre console (Mazda started life as a cork-making company in 1920).
The range is generously equipped too. Priced from £25,545 (including the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant or PiCG), 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lights and an 8.8-inch touchscreen are standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Spend more and goodies such as a 12-speaker Bose stereo, a 360-degree parking camera and a sunroof are available.
Top marks to Mazda the climate control system (located in a small touchscreen on the lower dash) which thankfully retains physical buttons for the temperature and fan speed to make it easier and safer to use on the move.
Awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash testing (with impressive scores of 91% and 87% in the adult and child occupant protection categories respectively) the MX-30 is fitted with the latest features including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keep assist.
On paper, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, but it feels swifter (helped by instant torque and fake engine noise subtly pumped into the cabin). The MX-30 feels well balanced on the road with direct steering and less evidence of the stodgy braking often found in EVs.
You can use the paddles behind the steering wheel to choose from various levels of brake regeneration (recovering energy while braking). Go for the hardest settings and you can make life easy for yourself with one-pedal driving.
It also soon becomes clear why Mazda chose to give this car an ‘MX’ prefix. It’s no MX-5, but as crossovers go, it’s dynamic and fun to drive. Playful at times, it rides well and stays pleasantly flat in faster corners.
Finally, the boot is a decent 366 litres, extending to 1,171 litres with the rear seats folded.
Verdict: The funky Mazda MX-30 is an affordable electric compact SUV that stands out from the crowd. If you can live with its design quirks and modest range, it’s sporty, fun, refined and classy.