It’s an open-and-shut case: either you love the horizontally opposed doors on the new Mazda MX-30 G20e, or you don’t. I lean towards the former having just spent a week living with its quirks.

The doors combine to open up a huge entry and exit, or do they? In a less-than-generous parking spot, say the average shopping-centre space, limited opening presents a chore to negotiate the slot between the pair of doors. Other niggles are set out in the Driving section below.

There’s nothing new about the set-up, having been around since saloon cars came onto the market. The so-called ‘freestyle’, aka ‘suicide’, doors last saw the light of day in the Mazda RX-8 sports car late last century. Now they’re back in crossover guise.

“The MX-30 is the bold next step of Mazda’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 strategy,” says Mazda Australia managing director, Vinesh Bhindi. Two ‘green powertrains will initially be on offer – the e-Skyactiv G, featuring mild hybrid technology, and later in the year the fully electric e-Skyactiv system.

With three specification levels – Evolve, Touring and Astina – prices start at $33,990 for the entry-level variant and progress through $36,490 (Touring) to the top-of-range Astina at $40,990. All figures are without on-road costs.

The Touring, with its mild hybrid system and advanced keyless entry, exterior mirrors with two-position memory, auto dimming on driver’s side, Pure White Maztex with grey cloth upholstery, driver’s seat with 10-way adjustment including lumbar support and two-position memory over the entry-level Evolve, was on test.

Mazda says the design team focused on new values and lifestyles of its target audience – young, metro and forward thinking – by cutting out unwanted clutter. The MX-30 eschews the Mazda hallmark front with its ‘big gob’ radiator grille, a smile now playing across the face focusing on the company brand.
In profile, strong features are the result of upright A-pillars, curved side panels and steeply raked roofline to D-pillars. A black roof section and metallic upper body sections are available, producing a stand-out triple tone contrast.

A light and airy MX-30 cabin has been given a position beyond its ‘pay grade’, with Pure White Maztex / grey cloth upholstery and soft-touch plastic among a wide range of sustainable materials.

Heritage cork harks back to Mazda’s founding as the Toyo Kogyo company, with surfaces made from sustainable materials derived trees without felling them. A unique coating applied by Mazda ensures durability, especially in door grips and centre console surfaces.

Upper door trims are finished in a breathable fabric, made from recycled PET bottles and even seat trim fabric uses up to 20 per cent recycled thread.

Interior layout and packaging are designed to appeal to the modern tech-savvy owner.

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.

An 8.8-inch central display, shared with the Mazda CX-30, supplies a raft of information via an easy-to-reach command control knob on the centre console, and a 7-inch TFT LCD meter panel is situated in front of the driver. The latest generation Mazda Connect is incorporated in the info package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto access are offered.

This first Mazda MX-30 M range mates a 114 kW 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with the maker’s own M Hybrid system, driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The hybrid system works with regenerative braking to store energy, which is intelligently controlled to boost engine torque, enhance braking, or extend idle stop time, all with improving fuel efficiency.

The MX-30 matched latest stiff standards set last year to earn a five-star top ANCAP safety rating. Adult occupant and child protection rated 93 and 87 per cent, respectively.

The Mazda i-Activsense system now adds a turn-across traffic function to the smart brake support system, helping to prevent crashes when turning across traffic.

Also included are road keep assist, which maintains the right track even without lane markings, along with emergency lane keeping with blind spot assist.

When it comes to action, mild seems to be the operative word, with the MX-30 a little wanting. Performance boost and fuel economy seem nothing out of the ordinary.

The peak power of 114 kW comes in the upper reaches of the rev spectrum at 6000 rpm, while a more accessible 200 Nm of torque arrives at 4000 revs. All systems interact smoothly, so smoothly, in fact as to appear to have little advantage over petrol power alone.

Mazda has the MX-30 consuming 6.4 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in the combined urban / highway cycle. In stop / go holiday traffic chaos the MX-30 on test slurped 8.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, while joining the motorway had the Touring down to sipping 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres.

There’s little free and easy about the so-called freestyle doors: the front has to be opened first to get to the rear door handle. While there’s no B-pillar, the front seat backs and low roofline make access to the back awkward, depending on occupant body bulk. When seated, limited width means three abreast should be limited to short journeys.

The rear has reasonable leg room but there’s little natural light due to tiny side windows. The black surroundings of the RX-8 made for a claustrophobic atmosphere, saved somewhat here by the grey decor.

Convenience features are sparse, with little more than a fold-down armrest with two cup holders and a door mounted bottle holder. The boot, at 311 litres capacity, is under done but can be expanded to 876 litres with the rear seat back folded. Loading area is limited.

Up front, the ‘floating’ cork-lined centre console is a nod to sustainable materials, being merely bark stripped from the tree. A lower level has a large storage spot, plus two USB-A ports and a 12V power outlet. Two cup holders in the middle of the large centre console can be covered with cork lids to provide enough space for a smartphone. The front door slots are made to take average-size bottles.

The NX-30 is the Mazda fans’ chance to dip a toe into the company’s new world of the electric vehicle. However, the true EV enthusiast might like to wait for the full electric model later this year.

Mazda MX-30 G20e Evolve $33,990
Mazda MX-30 G20e Touring $36,490
Mazda MX-30 G20e 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 G20e Touring 2.0L 4-cylinder petrol, M hybrid, 6sp automatic, freestyle doors)

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 Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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