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Home / Reviews / Cars & bikes / Electric cars / Mazda MX-30 R-EV review: a mixed bag

Mazda MX-30 R-EV review: a mixed bag

Tackles range anxiety head-on, but is slightly odd to live with

Mazda MX-30 R-EV review tracking front

Stuff Verdict

Great to drive and nicely made, but the Mazda MX-30 R-EV’s unorthodox powertrain setup and quirky design will make it something of a niche purchase.


  • Sharp exterior styling and minimal interior
  • An enjoyable enough drive
  • Clean, straightforward infotainment


  • Not actually that economical
  • Reverse rear doors not the most practical


The Mazda MX-30 R-EV compact crossover SUV is, in essence, the pure-electric MX-30 model with the added bonus of a small rotary engine. Mazda is well-known for its earlier Wankel-engined cars, so it’s good to see the Japanese carmaker bringing it back into play. Here it promises a range of over 400 miles combined, with the dinky petrol powerplant springing into action whenever the teeny tiny battery pack needs replenishment.

Considering the electric Mazda MX-30 can barely manage 100 miles of real-world driving, this version sounds like a great alternative for anyone bothered by range anxiety. And, let’s face it, anyone who’s experienced an EV for any amount is probably going to class themselves as part of that persuasion.

The Mazda MX-30 R-EV works well enough for me, thanks to home charging and the need to do lots of short runs. It’s also a good-looking car, with some classic Mazda design quirks thrown in for good measure. It drives nicely and has been put together very well indeed. However, there are some foibles. Let’s take a look at what might make it a hit with some folks and a miss with others.

The styling

My test car arrived in a rather sombre (though currently trendy) grey colour, but I think it works best in the vibrant metallic red that so many Mazda’s are finished in. Nevertheless, even in this sober shade, the Mazda MX-30 R-EV looks rather good. It’s not really doing anything differently, with a workmanlike compact crossover SUV shape that is reasonably interchangeable with other cars of its ilk.

However, I like the front and rear end sections, with the headlights and taillights giving the SUV a distinctive edge. In addition, there are some neat little trim touches, like the brushed silver ‘Mazda’ panels on each side of the rear pillars. This car rides quite high too, and this looks odder from the outside than it feels on the inside. The attractive alloys add a touch of pizazz to the exterior as an added bonus.

Trying to climb inside is where things get more interesting. Mazda’s designers have resurrected the doors last seen on the long gone RX8. The front two open normally and, in fact, very widely too. Meanwhile, the rear doors open backwards, in ‘suicide’ style. Annoyingly, you can’t open the rear doors without opening the front ones, which isn’t much of an issue until you live with it for a while. I loved the idea initially, but after a few journeys spent picking people up and putting stuff in the back, it all became a little bit of a faff. Anyone driving solo with no need to go anywhere near the back seats will not have the same issues.

The drive

When I first got behind the wheel of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, this easily manageable crossover is perfectly proportioned for the UK’s roads, and it drives really well. What’s immediately noticeable though is that there’s not a whole lot of power on tap. Sure, the MX-30 gets the job done, but it’s not the fastest when it comes to acceleration. This is probably because of all the weight it’s lugging around in the shape of the battery, rotary engine and associated gubbins.

Nevertheless, it’s a good car when you’re out on the open road, with three drive mode options to choose from. Normal is the default and it’s really all you need. The car works things out dynamically, so it’ll know when to start topping up the battery using the petrol engine. Alternatively, you can shift the lever into Charge mode to force this to happen. It’s a slightly agricultural experience when the engine kicks into life, whirring away under the bonnet and fluctuating wildly depending on how you rev it.

A dedicated EV mode is also on offer, but because the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is setup to do everything automatically, I found virtually no need to use this. The car didn’t seem particularly efficient mind, with the digital dash indicating an average of just over 31mpg for the time I had it. The same goes for the electric efficiency, with around 3.5kWh being the best I could get over the course of a week. Plugging in at home though and the car was quickly charged using my 7kW outlet, which gave me about 30 odd miles at a time, meaning I didn’t put any petrol in the car all week.

The technology

One of the standout features of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is the infotainment system, which revolves around a landscape screen that sits in the middle of the dash. This is duly controlled using a rotating dial down on the centre console, with core control buttons like ‘Home’ and ‘Back’ surrounding it. I found this a doddle to navigate when parked and while on the move. With its slick and simple interface this system has to be one of the best there is currently.

I also like the way the dash has crisp and clean twin analogue dials, with a digital segment in-between. Again, this is wonderfully straightforward to understand and can be mastered with ease. The steering wheel is home to additional controls, with a voice assistant that didn’t seem to be particularly great during my use of it. However, everything else works very well and I was really impressed with what the Mazda boffins have produced. Alongside the excellent quality of the interior components, I think this must be one of the mains strengths of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV verdict

Mazda MX-30 R-EV review tracking rear

I rather like the way Mazda continues to do its own thing and try something a little bit different, in much the same way it’s still producing diesel engines. Granted, there are some slightly odd nuances about the Mazda MX-30 R-EV, with those opposing doors likely to prove a bit much for some.

Nevertheless, the reasonably sedate performance provided by this car is perfectly suitable for anyone pottering into town on regular shopping trips. It’s comfortable enough to take on long runs too, but isn’t quite as hot on the economy front if you’re going to be doing that a lot. If you’ve got a home charger then I think it’s a good bet, just don’t expect to get anywhere particularly fast.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

Great to drive and nicely made, but an unorthodox powertrain setup and quirky design makes this something of a niche purchase.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV technical specifications

PowertrainRotary petrol/single permanent magnet synchronous motor
Torque191lb ft
Top speed87mph
Range400 miles combined, 53 miles EV only
Charge rate36kWh
Cargo volume350litres
Profile image of Rob Clymo Rob Clymo


Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv

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