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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
12:00 AM 11th November 2023
cars

Mazda MX-30 R-EV Launch Review

 
Mazda is a company which charts its own course. Whilst most manufacturers have rushed to join the EV revolution, some with more success than others, Mazda has taken a far more measured approach. They continue to develop their range of combustion engine cars and only quite recently, launched a new diesel engine in their range-topping CX-60.

Up until now, Mazda’s only electric car has been the MX-30, which I tested early in 2021. A modest 35.3kWh battery gave a stated range of around 120 miles, enough said Mazda as the average daily journey is just 26 miles.

Times are changing so the invite to the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool for a new version of the MX-30 left no sinking feeling! The MX-30 R-EV aims to take much of the good stuff from the original car, but by adding an 830cc rotary petrol engine, should widen the car’s appeal.

The engine has no direct mechanical link to the wheels, instead it acts a generator, charging the battery when necessary. The MX-30 is therefore always electric motor propelled. Fully charged, the electric range is a tad over 50 miles in ideal conditions, but with the 50-litre fuel tank brimmed, 400 miles or so should be possible without topping up either battery or tank.

The battery can be charged from 20 to 80 per cent in less than half an hour on a rapid charger, with a 7kW home charger adding around an hour to that time. Keep it topped up at home, and all local running should rarely see the engine need to fire up.

There are three driving modes available. Normal will be the most used setting and the MX-30 will run in electric mode if there is enough battery charge. EV mode is selectable, important as some of our inner cities are becoming EV only zones. And finally, there is charge mode which does what it says on the tin. In practice, the transition from EV to Normal mode is quite seamless, with only the faintest hum from the engine any indication that something has changed.

The car’s low CO2 rating of just 21g/km will appeal to the business motorist, whilst a combined 170PS should appeal to the keen driver. Mazda quotes a 0-60mph sprint time of 9.1 seconds, though it feels somewhat brisker than that in everyday driving. A top speed of 93mph is somewhat academic, but motorway cruising is not something which needs to be shied away from.

The MX-30’s official WLTP economy figure is 282.5mpg for the combined cycle. Of course, this cannot be achieved in the real world, but with a fully charged battery, over 100mpg should be possible on a reasonable length journey. Our day trip was rather longer, the trip computer reading a tad over 40mpg on our return to Liverpool.

Our test route saw us heading for the challenging roads of North Wales, a chance to put the quirky Mazda through its paces. The rotary engine is a smoothy, its unconventional design sees triangular shaped pistons spinning around a central shaft. It ensures the engine is rarely heard, even when pressing on, which we did when the conditions allowed.

Ride comfort is really rather good, though this is not achieved at the expense of road holding. Although the steering is a little light, it is direct and precise, allowing the MX-30 to be placed accurately into a tight corner. Yes, there’s a little body roll, but I suspect my driving companion and I were trying somewhat harder than most buyers of this type of car are ever likely to.

The R-EV interior is little changed from the EV variant and in keeping with the car’s green credentials, environmentally friendly materials have been used where possible. Vegan leather, plastics made from recycled materials and cork all come together quite harmoniously.

Heating controls are sensibly separated from the main screen for easy operation and all the other controls are logically laid out and easy to understand and operate. The front seats are easily adjustable to suit and proved to be comfortable even after many hours behind the wheel. I would have preferred a little more lateral support, but as this is not a sports car, they are probably well judged.

Access to the rear is via a pair of ‘suicide doors’, which unusually incorporate the B-pillar. They make access relatively easy, though the front door must be opened first. However, space in the rear remains rather tight and is probably best suited to children or adults of shorter stature, unless the front seat occupant is prepared to move forward.

Boot space varies from 332 to 350 litres with the rear seats in place, with up to 1,155 litres available if you lower them. The charging cables will have to live here unless you choose to leave them attached to your home charger.

There is much to like about the Mazda MX-30 R-EV. Its distinctive design helps it to stand out from the crowd and the combined power source has undoubtedly broadened the car’s appeal. Build quality is top notch, the interior a lovely space to spend time in.

Prices start at a competitive £31,250 for a Prime-Line model and the equipment count is high with smart alloy wheels, LED headlights, a head-up display and cruise control amongst the highlights. Exclusive-Line adds keyless entry, heated seats, and diamond-cut alloys to the list, all for an extra £1,900.

Top of the heap is the Makoto trim, and this gains a sunroof, Bose sound system and a heated steering wheel. Expect to pay £36,000 if you want one to grace your driveway.

I am quite sure that the clever battery/rotary engine generator will find its way into other Mazda models in due course, where the appeal is likely to be even greater. Watch this space for details.