The MX-30 may have a slightly raised, crossover-style ride height and seating position, but the car’s low and curving roofline certainly makes it look quite compact on the outside. You duck slightly on your way into the driving seat. If you’re getting into the back, the rear side door is released by a handle you’ll find low down inside the front door aperture.
Although both doors open quite wide, occupants will struggle to board both rows of seats simultaneously as they might in a conventional five-door car. Second-row space is tight for adults, although fine for smaller children.
In that respect, the MX-30 is a closer notional rival for a BMW i3 or a Honda E than a full-sized four-seater. Judge it on boot space instead, however (341 litres under the loadbay cover), and the Mazda can be considered markedly more practical than those smaller cars: it is able to swallow pushchairs or buggies with just a little space to spare.
In the front, apparent quality levels are high, and cabin ambience is classy and tactile, but alternative with it. Our test car had cloth upholstery made in part out of recycled plastics, but it didn’t show any compromise to perceptible quality, while natural cork finds a rare modern automotive application as lining for the car’s centre console and around its interior door handles. Cork parts manufacture is a key part of Mazda’s corporate history and, because it’s natural, renewable and can be harvested without tree-felling, the material was considered ideal for the MX-30. It certainly looks unusual in the car; a little antiquated perhaps.
The MX-30’s instruments are pleasingly simple – more instantly readable than stylish, but all the better for it – and its controls are well placed and easy to use, a large, chunky-feeling shift lever giving you something reassuringly substantial to grab onto when engaging drive. The car’s touchscreen heater controls are complemented by a few well-chosen physical buttons, too, which are welcome where usability is concerned.
Infotainment and sat-nav
Mazda takes a pleasingly minimalist approach to its infotainment systems, but not to the extent where functionality becomes impaired.
There’s no main touchscreen here; instead, you need to use the rotary controller, which is mounted on the centre console, to navigate your way through the simply laid out operating suite. Responsiveness is very good, as is graphical sophistication. This is a very easy system to learn – although the lack of a touchscreen does mean that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t quite as easy to use as they might otherwise be.