Electric car ideal for the school run

Doctor on the Road: Mazda MX-30

Why buy a car with a massive electric range if you don’t need to? Our motoring correspondent Dr Tony Rimmer finds this new offering a perfect second car for a young family with children. 

In the motoring world, Mazda is a car manufacturer with a reputation for thinking and acting outside of the box. 

Over the years, it has experimented with alternative internal combustion engines such as the Wankel rotary engine in its RX models and is at the forefront of petrol engine technology with the clever Skyactiv-X system, which improves fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

However, to stay competitive, Mazda is having to embrace the powerful movement towards electrification of our everyday cars. 

It is therefore no surprise that Mazda is joining the party with a car that represents a slightly quirky left-field approach. 

The MX-30 has a coupé/crossover style, a battery size of only 35.5kWh and a range of 124miles. 

Reasonable cost

Priced from £28,545, it is at the reasonable cost end of the EV scale. It has seating for four adults and unusual rear ‘suicide’ doors that open from the rear and only when the front doors are open. This is a nod to the same set up used in their classic RX-8 sports car.

Mazda justifies the small battery by suggesting that the average commute is 26 miles and most people, for most of the time, only travel up to 120 miles in a day. 

A smaller battery means lighter weight and a more dynamic drive. The MX-30 therefore competes with the MINI electric and the Honda ‘e’ and would suit a city/ urban environment with regular home-charging availability. 

In fact, a typical 7kW home charger can replenish the battery in six hours and, when out and about, a 50kW rapid-charger – if you can find one – can provide a 0-80% re-charge in 30 to 40 minutes.

Eco-friendly materials

The interior is stylish and modern and uses eco-friendly materials. The seats are covered in a fabric made from re-cycled plastic bottles and the centre console has a cork covering – Mazda’s first business was as a cork producer. 

Standard equipment is generous, and the controls are clear and easy to use – no fiddly touchscreen-only controls like those found in the Golf Mk 8. 

Rear passengers have adequate leg- and headroom once ensconced, but the narrow rear doors make entry and exit a bit of a challenge. Also, it is a bit claustrophobic in the back with small non-opening windows. The boot is big, though (366 litres), and a surprising amount of luggage can be carried.

Mazdas have always been good to drive, so I was interested to see if my MX-30 test car followed in the same tradition. A claimed 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds does not sound fast, but the instant electric torque makes it feel quicker. 

The steering is nice and sharp, and the chassis feels nimble compared to most electric vehicles (EVs); the light battery helps a lot. 

Braking regeneration can be controlled by paddles behind the steering wheel and can be set strongly enough to allow for almost one-pedal driving. 

Class of its own

For the keen driver, it is similar in nature to the Honda ‘e’ but not quite as much fun as the electric MINI. The ride is nicely compliant as well. Despite trying different driving styles, I found the predicted range of 124 miles from a full charge to be pretty accurate – welcome when planning trips. 

So, what are we to make of this new electric Mazda? It seems that the MX-30 has positioned itself in a class all of its own. 

Its design and style mark it out as smart and unique. It is bigger and roomier than the city EVs such as the MINI, Honda ‘e’ and Fiat 500, but cannot compete with range abilities of the family hatchbacks such as the VW iD3 and Nissan Leaf. 

What kind of medic family would find the Mazda appealing? Well, I see it as a perfect second car for a young family with children. 

Its space and limited range are ideal for the school run followed by an urban commute and trips to the supermarket. 

Why buy a car with a massive electric range if you don’t need to? It makes more sense and is kinder to the planet. I think that Mazda’s lateral thinking might just pay off.

Dr Rimmer (right) is a former NHS GP practising in Guildford, Surrey