Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps Makoto Reviewed

In Car Reviews, Electric cars, Mazda by Peter Nunn

Stand out from the crowd with the intriguing Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps, that’s now become better value

Car Reviewed: Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps MAKOTO

SUVs these days seem much of a muchness, at a glance. You see so many around they tend to become a bit of a blur after a while.

Spoiler alert: that’s not the case with the Mazda MX-30 R-EV, the model you see here….

Yes, this mould-breaking Japanese SUV, with its striking looks, zany designer doors, and unique rotary-powered EV range extender drivetrain, proves to be both fascinatingly and willfully different to the same-again norm.

To me, that’s a good start. And even better, the Mazda’s price has recently been realigned to make it better value, starting now at £31,495.

As you drive, you find this PHEV Mazda steers, handles and performs really adeptly. Smooth and refined, the MX-30 R-EV proves more agile and rewarding over a succession of B-roads than you’d think. Controls and movements all come together and are very well ‘connected,’ you could say.

The MX-30 story, it’s true, goes back a while. The model first appeared as a concept in front of a huge crowd at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, before arriving in the UK two years later.

Mazda’s vision was largely that of a designer cool pure electric SUV, a newcomer that might perhaps serve largely as a second car, combined with home charging, for short journeys only.

Interesting. But the market wanted a step up in terms of the MX-30’s modest driving range of around 120 miles. Hence the appearance of this novel plug in hybrid edition, which brings Mazda’s fabled rotary engine back into production.

The rotary, best known for powering Mazda’s hi decibel RX-7 and RX-8 sportsters is inherently small, light and compact,. Here it fits neatly under the bonnet to create a unique electrified drivetrain that Mazda calls e-Skyactiv R-EV.

Hold the excitement however because this single rotor 830 cc engine’s mission is to act purely as a generator to top up the Mazda’s slim 17.8 kw/h lithium-ion battery, which in turn powers the 170 PS electric motor.

At no time does it directly power the front wheels, which might seem a bit of a downer to the rotary fans among us. And truth be told, when driving, you’d be hard pressed to tell the rotary is there at all. A faint hum when it kicks in, that’s about it.

What it does do, however, is to lift the Mazda’s official 53 mile (EV) range up to a more practical 400 miles-plus, overall, on a full tank and full battery charge.

As piece of design, the MX-30 is itself an edgy out-there challenger to convention. It’s not curvaceous like many of Mazda’s recent models and the stand out, of course, are the rear hinged back doors which resemble those of the RX-8.

Mazda calls these ‘freestyle’ doors. The idea is to ‘open up the cabin space’ when both front and rear doors are pulled out.

You’ll get that concept when you see it for real. Alas, the rear seat area has ended up pretty cramped. The sloping roofline doesn’t help headroom. Visibility through small windows is also pretty grim back there.

Carrying stuff? Boot space is a decent 332 rising to 1137 litres with the 60/40 rear seats folded down.

For driver and front passenger, the MX-30 R-EV is a fine place to be, with plush, comfortable, supportive seats and plenty of space. Looks and feels good.

The dash is quite simple yet very well finished. A small dial on the centre console controls a range of functions and the cork inserts, a nod to Mazda’s beginnings in 1920 as a cork maker, are a nice stylish touch.

You can order the Mazda in three grades: Prime Line, Exclusive Line or, as here, the topline Makoto. Kit levels are comprehensive with the Makoto, in particular, getting a power/tilt sunroof, adaptive LED lights, 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, heated front seats, Bose 12-speaker sound system, 360-view monitor, and more.

All models are compatible with AC charging (around 90 mins for 20-80%) and 50 kW DC fast charging (25 mins for the same 20-80%).

Underneath, Mazda has tweaked both the battery and front electric motor for MX 30 R-EV duty, the result being a slightly quicker 0-62 mph time of 9.1 secs, versus 9.7 for the BEV only MX-30.

Truth be told, the Mazda is no lightweight at 2251 kgs, but then what electric SUV is? What’s remarkable is how sharp and responsive it is at the wheel, how wieldy it feels between corners with good directional stability, how easily it cruises A-roads.

The Mazda rides well too. The PHEV system gives you three drive modes – Normal, EV and Charge – so you can plan how fast or economical you want to be.

You can alter the system regenerative braking at the wheel (there are five levels) at the same time. For all this cleverness, however, on-the-road economy is typically around 35 mpg, so it’s not so groundbreaking in the grand scheme of things.

When you step from the MX-30, you have to say that Mazda, once again, has produced something special. For a relatively small independent manufacturer from Hiroshima, Mazda continues to punch well above its weight for creative design and inventiveness. Long may that process continue.

That said, Mazda has recently decided to reduce the price of the MX-30 to reflect the slowing electric car market. The MX-30 R-EV Makoto is now £4400 cheaper than before, starting at £31,495. Alongside, the original battery only MX-30 now kicks off at £27,995.

So a fascinating car is now a better deal in the showroom. Sounds like a good combination to me.

Author Rating 4.1/5

Car reviewed: Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps MAKOTO

on the road price from £31,495

  • 0-62mph 9.1secs
  • Top speed 87mph
  • Mechanical Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
  • Economy WLTP Combined 37.2
  • Max Power 170PS
  • Torque 260Nm
  • Dimensions MM 4395 L / 1795 W / 1555 H
  • CO2 emissions 0g/km
  • Transmission Single speed Automatic
  • Bootspace 332 / 1137 1itres (seats folded)

Peter Nunn

Motoring writer

As a motoring journalist, he’s been writing about cars for a long time, starting in London in fact around the time the Sex Pistols first began limbering up….

Thereafter his journalistic remit has covered both new and classic cars, some historic motorsport reporting plus a long spell in Tokyo, covering the Japanese car industry for a range of global media outlets. Peter is a car writer and tester in the UK. Gooner, Alfisti and former Tokyo resident. If it has wheels, then he is interested.

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Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps Makoto Reviewed

Stand out from the crowd with the intriguing Mazda MX-30 R-EV 170 ps, that’s now become better value…