Released here in January 2021, the MX-30 is the latest model in the continually expanding Mazda SUV range.

The name is a bit confusing given that previous cars with the MX prefix have been sporty coupes or convertibles, most notably the iconic MX-5. In this case it stands for Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X M Hybrid technology with the M indicating that it is a mild hybrid or MHEV.

It joins the Mazda3 hatch and CX-30 SUV in offering the MHEV option.

In April this year the MX-30 MHEV was joined by the MX-30 EV, the first ever pure electric vehicle from Mazda. Only 100 units have been allocated with delivery expected soon.

Three variants of the MX-30 MHEV are offered: Evolve, Touring and Astina with prices ranging from $33,990 for the entry-level Evolve through to $40,990 for the top-of-range Astina. On-road costs need to be added.

The first thing you notice about the MX-30 is its narrow grille, a big change from the large Mazda-family grille that’s been a feature across the Mazda range for some time. More of a grin than a guffaw this time.

The profile follows similar lines to the CX-30 but with a slightly more coupe-like dip towards the rear.

The most dramatic feature by far is the reverse-hinged rear doors. Called ‘freestyle’ by Mazda, but more colloquially ‘suicide doors’ by their critics, they were last seen here in the Mazda RX-8 sports car.

The rear doors can only be opened when the front ones are open to provide a large single opening. However, we didn’t find any practical benefit from the format with access to the rear seats quite awkward especially in cramped parking areas. Likewise, the ability to open the front doors to almost 90 degrees is useful but again care needs to be taken in tight areas.

The top-spec Astina comes with a glass sunroof with power tilt and slide.

The MX-30 combines a 2.0-litre 114kW / 200 Nm petrol engine with a 24-volt battery sending power to the front wheels through a six-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission.

As with other hybrid systems regenerative braking recharges the battery for improved fuel efficiency, although at 6.4 litres per 100 km it’s only 0.1 litres lower than the identical engine in the petrol-only CX-30.

The overall interior design of the MX-30 is fresh and attractive with a functional layout to the dashboard.

There are three screens, one behind the steering wheels with driver information, an information screen at the top centre of the dash, and a touchscreen at the front of the floating centre console specifically for air conditioner and seat heating controls.

Eco-friendly sustainable material is used including a cork surface on the large storage space beneath the floating centre console and on flip caps on the two centre drink holders.

The upper door trims are finished in a breathable fabric made from recycled PET bottles while the seat trim fabric uses up to 20 per cent recycled thread.

Evolve gets black and grey cloth seat upholstery; Touring upgrades to Pure White Maztex faux leather with grey cloth; while our test Astina came with a Vintage Brown Maztex with black cloth.

Rear seat space is limited in all directions with a large ‘transmission’ tunnel below the centre seats. Together with the two small windows and the absence of air vents it feels a bit claustrophobic. There is a fold-down armrest with two cupholders, but no USB ports.

Boot size is a disappointing 311 litres with the rear seats in place expanding only to 876 litres with the seatbacks folded.

Standard equipment in all models includes 10 Airbags; Blind Spot Monitoring; Driver Attention Alert; Emergency Lane Keeping with Road Keep Assist and Blind Spot Assist; Emergency Stop Signal; Forward Obstruction Warning; High Beam Control; Hill Launch Assist; Lane Departure Warning; Lane-keep Assist System; Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go; rear parking sensors; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; reversing camera;

Smart Brake Support; Rear Crossing; Turn-across Traffic; Traffic Sign Recognition; and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

Extra features in the Astina includes 360-degree View Monitor; Adaptive LED Headlamps; Cruising & Traffic Support; Driver inattention monitoring; Front Cross Traffic Alert; and
front parking sensors. These are optional in the Evolve and Touring models with the $1500 Vision Technology Package.

The 8.8-inch display screen at the top of the dashboard is operated through a “command control knob” on the centre console rather than being a touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto access are available.

A new 7-inch touchscreen is integrated into the centre stack, adapting its display to suit the temperature and time of day. The climate control air-conditioning and seat heating are operated via this screen.

Apart from the extra torque the performance of the MX-30 is much the same as its CX-30 sibling. There’s nothing exciting about it but town it’s smooth, comfortable and quiet while it cruises easily in motorway conditions.

Out on the open road ride quality and interior sound levels are excellent while coarse-chip surfaces do increase noise levels although not to the same extent as in others in this class.

Handling is accurate and the steering wheel provides the right amount of feedback.

Cornering is accurate enough, but this is not a sports sedan, and is certainly not planned to be one.

Overall fuel consumption during our week of testing averaged 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres, quite above the factory-tested 6.4 L/100 km although we did manage to get it down to
The low sevens during easy motorway cruising.

The Mazda MX-30 MHEV is the latest in a growing number of vehicles with mild hybrid powertrains on the Australian market and, as far as we’re concerned the jury is still out on whether they justify their higher prices.

While the battery does provide some extra torque in the MX-30 it’s certainly not dramatic and, as mentioned previously, the fuel saving is minimal.

So potential buyers need to decide whether they are willing to pay the extra $2400 for an MX-30 Evolve over the CX-30 Evolve. Alternatively, at around the same prices for the MX-30 Touring and Astina variants they could get the equivalent CX-30s but with a 2.5-litre engine and around 25 per cent more power and torque.

Others may be happy to pay extra for the ‘EV’ badge on the number plates and Mazda’s commitment to environmentally-friendly components.

Mazda MX-30 MHEV Evolve: $33,990
Mazda MX-30 MHEV Touring: $36,490
Mazda MX-30 MHEV Astina: $40,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda MX-30 Touring 2.0-litre petrol / electric hybrid five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 114 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 150 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

Length: 4395 mm
Wheelbase: 2655 mm
Width: 1795 mm
Height: 1545 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1481 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 51 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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