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One of the electric car movement’s biggest industry critics joins the fray

It’s a mark of how widespread the car industry’s adoption of EV technology has become, and how quickly it is expanding, that even the firms that have eyed it with considerable – and very public – circumspection are now, perhaps even somewhat reluctantly, getting on board.

With the introduction of this week’s test subject, the new MX-30, famously independent of spirit Mazda acknowledges one key fact. That while the whole life-cycle carbon emissions associated with electric cars may not make them (for now, at least) as sustainable and environmentally responsible as some clearly believe them to be, the company simply cannot stay on the right side of tightening emissions legislation without ‘going electric’ to some extent.

Relatively light for an EV of this size, the MX-30 consequently feels nimble and dynamic to drive. You’re not going to mistake it for an MX-5, clearly, but it’s certainly among the dynamically sharper of electric crossovers

And so here we are. Much as we are unlikely to hear any big announcements from Hiroshima declaring an intention to drop combustion engines from its cars entirely within this decade, the firm’s electric duck has been broken and its first production EV is now on sale.

Quite apparently, the MX-30 is a new kind of Mazda for more reasons than one. Rather than following its South-East Asian neighbours and simply dropping batteries and an electric motor into an existing production model, the company has clearly given its designers free rein with this car.

They have opted for a fashionable modern compact crossover body to suit the urban environment in which this car is most likely to be driven; but they’ve also used clever references to other memorable compact Mazdas of recent times – from the famous MX-5 roadster to the 1990s-era MX-3 coupé – to give the MX-30 some recognisable family DNA.

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The marque also promises that a relatively light kerb weight (for an EV), together with Mazda’s perennial focus on turning out big-selling cars with distinguishing handling allure, has made this one of the best-handling and generally most appealing small electric models yet to emerge. Here’s where we find out how seriously to take those claims.

The MX-30 range at a glance

Just the one electric powertrain is currently available on MX-30s in the UK, but a range-extender variant (supposedly using a rotary engine) is expected to join the line-up at a later date.

As for trim levels, the SE-L Lux model represents the entry-level offering. This is followed by First Edition and Sport Lux, while our GT Sport Tech test car is the range flagship. All MX-30s feature a 35.5kWh battery, which lends a claimed range of up to 124 miles.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Mazda MX-30