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First Drive

First Drive: Mazda MX-30 Sport Lux

The story: Mazda has joined the rush to electric vehicles, with the MC-30 crossover signalling its debut into the full electric marketplace.
Category:Small crossover
Key rival:MINI Electric
Efficiency:Range 124 miles
On sale:Now

As is far from unusual for the Japanese brand, Mazda is very much going its own way with its first electric vehicle, arguing that a lower range is an acceptable exchange for the smaller batteries that make for a lighter car with more driver engagement.

This new MX-30 is more environmentally friendly, too.

 The argument is that “right-sizing” the battery uses less resources, and also doesn’t involve carrying round excess battery capacity that isn’t used.

First Drive - April 2021 - Mazda MX-30 - Image 5The flip-side of that is an official 124-mile range that, in the real world, particularly when it’s cold, is highly likely to drop into double digits.

It puts the MX-30 in the camp of the Mini electric and Honda e, small models that can’t be relied on as the only car in a household if regular longer journeys are to be attempted, even with the ever-improving charging network.

Still, it’s fair to say the arguments about driving experience stand up to scrutiny from behind the wheel; the MX-30 feels light, nimble and fun despite the modest 105hp/107kW battery that is significantly below the output of some rivals. It’s missing the real punch of EV power out of corners, but accelerates evenly and feels very composed, even having an odd faux-engine noise under acceleration.

The school of thought that heavier batteries could ruin the experience has its merits – at least until you want to try a longer journey, which is when you’d crave another 50 miles plus on the range. The only things against the driving experience are a slightly light feel to the steering, and a very solid brake pedal feel that seems to have little progression.

First Drive - April 2021 - Mazda MX-30 - Image 6The interior is of the usual Mazda standard, which means better than might be expected of a volume brand, with good-quality materials and a neat layout with plenty of stowage space. Equipment levels are decent too, and the car’s not badly priced at all, starting at £28,490 before the Government’s £2500 grant.

The rear is a bit compact, with a back-seat passenger likely to struggle behind the driver. Entry is via the ‘freestyle’ rear-hinged back doors that can only operate once the front doors are open.

paul barker

The verdict

A really likeable and fun electric car, just not one for a driver frequently needing to cover longer distances.