Review: Mazda MX-30 R-EV

From £31,250

When the Mazda MX-30 was introduced in 2020, it was well received, except for its modest 124-mile range. Mazda often dares to be different, and the pure electric MX-30 was a prime example. The theory was that smaller batteries deliver most drivers with the necessary distance they need each day (the average UK commute is 26 miles) and they have a friendlier CO2 footprint over their lifetime than EVs with larger power packs. However, that kind of city car range doesn’t help with range anxiety, so Mazda has introduced a new variant which addresses the issue. The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV has a small petrol engine working as a generator to charge the battery, resulting in a potential driving range of some 400 miles.

Mazda claims it’s “the perfect solution for customers who want an electric car for everyday usage but the flexibility to undertake longer journeys without the reliance on charging infrastructure”.

The MX-30 R-EV doesn’t have a direct competitor, because a petrol motor that doesn’t directly drive the wheels is such an unusual solution. So, it could be compared with everything from a Nissan Juke Hybrid to a MINI Electric or a Renault Captur E-Tech PHEV.

We tested the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV in mid-range Exclusive-Line trim on a variety of A and B roads, plus motorways in the South West.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV – Exterior

Apart from different badging, the MX-30 R-EV is identical to its 100% electric sibling. About the same size as a Seat Ateca, it sports distinctive coupe-crossover styling without central pillars and looks like no other EV or PHEV on the road. However, it’s not without its issues because it also features dinky rear-hinged back doors. More about those later.

The MX-30 R-EV is offered in three well-equipped grades: Prime-Lime, Exclusive-Line and Makoto.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV – Interior

The cabin of the MX-30 R-EV is a mixture of highs and lows. On the plus side, it’s eco-friendly with an emphasis on sustainable materials, including breathable fabric upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles, and cork in the floating centre console (Mazda started life as a cork-making company in 1920).

The layout up front is a good balance between minimalist and traditional. There’s a 7.0-inch digital driver’s display and an 8.8-inch central screen set high up. The latter is controlled via a rotating dial situated down near the gear selector.

And top marks to Mazda for the climate control system (located in and around a small touchscreen on the lower dash) which thankfully retains physical buttons for the temperature and fan speed to make it easier and safer to use on the move.

The use of different materials throughout the interior is innovative, it has a classy feel overall and build quality is hard to fault.

Sadly, the rear ‘freestyle’ doors (a nod to the classic RX-8 sports car) are a disappointment.

From a practical point of view, not being able to open the rear doors from inside or out (unless the front doors are opened first) is not ideal. Also, these narrow doors make entry and exit from the back seats a challenge for full-sized adults, while rear passengers get a restricted side view, their windows don’t open, and legroom isn’t exactly generous.

However, boot capacity is a competitive 350 litres (this decreases to 332 litres on top-spec models due to the larger audio system), expanding to 1,155 litres (1,137 litres) when the rear seats are folded down.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV boot

Mazda MX-30 R-EV – Performance and economy

The new MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV features a small 17.8kWh battery (the full EV version has a 35.5kWh capacity) and a lightweight 830cc rotary petrol engine, which is used as a generator to charge the battery and does not drive the wheels directly.

It has a 53-mile pure EV range, in theory extending to as much as 400 miles if there’s a full 50-litre tank of petrol for the engine.

The 167bhp electric motor is capable of a 0-62mph dash in 9.1 seconds, while CO2 emissions are a low 21g/km.

One advantage of the small battery is that it takes less time to charge. A typical 7kW home charger will provide a full refill in under two hours, while an 11kW charger takes 50 minutes.

Unlike many plug-in hybrids, the R-EV also offers DC rapid charging capability, meaning a 50kW charger will boost the battery from 20-80% in just 25 minutes, while steering-wheel paddles control regenerative braking on the move.

The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV features three driving modes: Normal, EV and Charge.

Normal mode delivers electric drive as long as there’s enough battery charge. If more power is required, then the engine will kick in and boost the battery.

EV mode ensures the car will stay in electric drive for as long as possible until the battery is completely drained, while Charge mode can be used to safeguard a desired amount of battery for city driving, for instance.

On the road, it feels brisk enough and is smooth and refined in EV mode. However, when the petrol engine seamlessly cuts in, you are aware of a mildly irritating constant drone up front.

For short journeys in all-electric mode, the MX-30 R-EV is cheap to run, especially if you can charge it at home. Unfortunately, it’s much like other conventional plug-in hybrids when the battery has depleted because your overall MPG will gradually drop to 40mpg or below, depending on how hard you’re working that punchy little engine.

Ultimately, power delivery is instant, smooth and linear at any speed – it’s just a shame the pure EV range isn’t bigger.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV rear exterior

Mazda MX-30 R-EV – Handling

On the road, the MX-30 R-EV handles much like its fully electric sister, which is no bad thing. Striking a good balance between comfort and sportiness, the suspension is on the firm side but absorbs bumps surprisingly well.

It’s a composed cruiser, yet it’s also agile and the steering is sharp, resulting in an engaging drive, while body lean is nicely controlled in more challenging corners.

The brakes are responsive too, which is rarely the case with plug-ins. However, like most front-wheel-drive PHEVs and EVs, the extra torque can spin the wheels on wet and loose surfaces.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV – Verdict

Wave goodbye to range anxiety! Top marks to Mazda for daring to be different and coming up with an alternative electrification route with the MX-30 R-EV. This range extender is certainly not perfect, but if you can live with its foibles, it’s a crossover with kerb appeal that’s engaging to drive, comfortable and well-made.

> Buy new Mazda MX-30 R-EV

Tech Specs – Mazda MX-30 R-EV

Price:  £31,250
Battery Capacity: 17.8 kWh
WLTP Range: 53 miles (400+ miles combined)
Maximum Power: 167bhp
Torque: 192lb-ft
0-62mph:  9.1 seconds
Top Speed: 87 mph
Boot Capacity: 350 – 1,155 litres

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Wave goodbye to range anxiety! Top marks to Mazda for daring to be different and coming up with an alternative electrification route with the MX-30 R-EV. This range extender is certainly not perfect, but if you can live with its foibles, it’s a crossover kerb appeal that’s engaging to drive, comfortable and well made.
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Performance

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Range

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Comfort

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Dynamics

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Fast Facts

Price

£31,250

Battery Capacity

17.8 kWh

WLTP Range

53 miles

Maximum Power

167 bhp

Torque

192 lb-ft

0-60

9.1 secs

Top Speed

87 mph

Boot Capacity

350-
1155 litres

Pros and Cons

No range anxiety
Distinctive, sporty looks
Engaging drive
Top build quality
Impractical rear doors
Cosy in the back
Engine drone
Disappointing hybrid economy
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