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Mazda MX-30 Review

5 / 10
27 May 2024
Mazda MX-30 driving around corner

The Mazda MX-30 won’t be for everyone. It’s incredibly quirky and different to any of its rivals, for better and for worse.

The electric version is held back by a short range figure, while all models suffer from cramped back seats. But it has a lovely interior and is great value on the used market.

What we like:
  • Fantastic value as a used model
  • Refreshingly different from the norm
  • Comfortable and good to drive
What we don't like:
  • Short range for electric model
  • Not very practical
  • A little odd-looking

Should I buy a Mazda MX-30?

Bizarre. Unusual. Oddball. None of these words are usually positive, unless you’re a bit bored of typical modern cars. In which case, you might like the Mazda MX-30’s distinctive set of attributes.

It’s a car that needs consideration and thought. You probably won’t think it’s the most beautiful car on the road, but there are some really cool design touches in its styling. The windowline is almost coupe-like, the slim headlights are bridged by an inset grille, and the round tail-lights are even a bit like a Ferrari’s.

There are a couple of nods to Mazda’s similarly quirky RX-8 sports car. Most notably the rear-hinged half-width back doors, which can only be opened once the front doors are open. Mazda has also brought back the rotary engine – famed for powering its RX sports cars – for the plug-in hybrid ‘R-EV’ engine.

The R-EV is a newer addition to the range. Originally the MX-30 only launched as an electric car, with rather limited appeal. A full battery gives a range of around 120 miles, which is pretty uncompetitive with many of its direct rivals. This was a deliberate decision by Mazda – the small battery keeps the cost and weight low, and most drivers don’t go more than 30 or 40 miles a day.

It’s not going to help drivers who have range anxiety, though, and really the MX-30’s main appeal lies as a second car for nipping around town – many drivers will still need the comfort of a car with a longer range for travelling further away. But we urge you to check the prices of our used MX-30s. Even an almost-new MX-30 is little more than £10,000, when a brand-new city car now starts at £15,000. It really is incredible value.

Interior and technology

Mazda MX-30 interior

The interior of the MX-30 is a little more conventional than the exterior, although it’s still an interesting place to sit. If you’re used to massive touchscreens all over the place, you might be a bit surprised – the MX-30’s infotainment screen is comparatively small and looks almost hidden in the dashboard.

It’s also not a touchscreen – you control it with the round dial on the raised centre console between the seats. Using the dial is really easy and quickly becomes second nature, and it helps that the touchscreen isn’t crammed full of features that you’d probably never use. As an extra bonus, you won’t get greasy fingerprints all over the screen.

In a departure from other Mazdas, the air con is controlled by a touchscreen. While we’d prefer the twirly dials you get in the Mazda 3, the screen isn’t too bad to use – especially as the fan speed and temperature can also be adjusted with proper buttons, which is a little puzzling.

Mazda MX-30 centre console

Mazda started out as a cork-making company, and the cork centre console trim is a nod to its heritage. On the whole, the materials used in the MX-30’s interior are high-quality, and the cheaper ones are well screwed together. We like the light-coloured seat upholstery and the little metallic touches dotted around the place.

Prime-Line trim (formerly SE-L Lux) is very well equipped, with climate control, LED headlights with auto high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, parking sensors and an impressive array of active safety features. Exclusive-Line (Sport Lux on older cars) adds heated front seats, keyless entry and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. Top-spec Makoto/GT Sport trim adds a 360-degree top-view camera, a sunroof and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.


Besides a couple of useful storage areas up front, the Mazda MX-30 isn’t quite as practical as you might expect from its SUV bodywork. Once you’ve opened the front and rear doors to gain access to the rear, getting in still isn’t very easy. You might have to nudge the front seat forward. An average-sized adult can sit behind another average-sized adult, but it’s no good for tall adults.

Mazda MX-30 rear seats

The same goes for headroom – if you’re taller than average your hair will be brushing the roof. The rear door bins aren’t very big, and the awkward doors make it tricky to load child seats and the children that go in them.

Couple the meagre headroom with the tiny rear windows and your passengers might feel a bit hemmed in. There are two small windows each side, separated by a chunky door pillar – it feels like you’re in a ship with portholes or in a castle with windows only big enough to shoot a crossbow from.

Mazda MX-30 boot

At 350 litres, the boot is a good size for a small-ish car. It’ll be plenty for a weekly shop or a couple of large suitcases, and there’s not a huge lip to haul items over. We wouldn’t mind a few extra hooks and features in the boot to make the most of the space, however. Also, top-spec cars lose 18 litres of space because of the Bose sound system.

Range and performance

The MX-30 is Mazda’s first electric car, and on paper it can’t compete with bigger carmakers with more established EVs. Its 35.5kWh battery is small – 124 miles is the best you can expect from a full charge in mixed driving, and that rather limits the usability of the MX-30. It’s like driving around with, at most, a third of a tank of fuel. Fast-charging is fitted for occasional longer journeys, allowing the MX-30 to charge from 20-80% in 25 minutes.

If the only thing stopping you from buying an MX-30 is the range, allow us to introduce the MX-30 R-EV, the range-extender model. This couples a small petrol engine to a smaller battery, creating a plug-in hybrid car that’ll do 50 miles of electric running and a further 300-350 miles on a tank of petrol.

Mazda MX-30 models next to Severn Bridge

The fully electric MX-30 has a similar amount of power to other small EVs like the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Mokka Electric. You don’t get the instant shove of power like you do from high-end electric cars, and instead the power builds smoothly. It’s ideal if you’re coming from a petrol or diesel car and don’t want the punch in the gut that more powerful EVs give you.

Zero-to-62mph takes 9.7 seconds in the electric one and 9.1 seconds in the R-EV. Both top out at 87mph.

Driving and comfort

Mazdas are usually pretty good to drive, and even the MX-30 has a bit of the sparkle of the MX-5 sports car. The steering is quick and the car is responsive, so it’s super easy to drive the MX-30 around town. On faster roads, the MX-30’s weight (1,750kg including the driver) becomes apparent, and there’s a little bit of body roll in corners.

Mazda MX-30 driving rear view

Comfort is impressive. Expansion joints and big speedbumps are crossed without any major interference in the cabin, and we can see it’ll be a pleasing car on long journeys. Just a shame that the fully electric one doesn’t really offer the range to do long journeys.

The petrol engine in the R-EV model is an unusual rotary engine, the type of which is best known for being in Mazda’s classic sports cars. Almost triangular in shape – hence triangles being dotted around the car – the engine was thirsty and noisy in Mazda’s sports cars, but that’s not the case in the MX-30. In fact, you might struggle to notice the transition between petrol and electric power, as it’s so smooth. Unless you really rag it, the petrol engine is extremely quiet.

The small rear windows don’t only make it a bit claustrophobic in the back, but they also impede over-the-shoulder visibility for the driver. Thankfully, a reversing camera comes as standard so the MX-30 isn’t too difficult to park.

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