By daring to stick an ‘MX’ badge on its tailgate, Mazda is, as much as anything else, showing some notable dynamic ambition for its inaugural production EV. On fast, technical roads, there is perhaps the merest sniff of an MX-5 about the way the car conducts itself – but it’s a tenuous connection, for sure.
With 2.75 turns between locks, the MX-30’s steering is quite relaxed and measured in its directness, but it’s accurate and weighted really nicely; light without feeling vague or aloof. Very MX-5, in other words.
Combined with a controlled degree of lateral cornering roll and sturdy front-end grip, the MX-30 is a really easy car to get into a good flow with. It never feels like it will rotate or even become agitated or unstable with a mid-corner lift of the throttle; and, it being front driven, you won’t ever see the rear end even threaten to step out under power. It just corners neutrally, and with an appealing, friction-free kind of willingness and energy.
Mid-corner bumps can cause the car to lose its composure momentarily, though. Meanwhile, such moderate response rates don’t make the MX-30 handle with the same conspicuous vim and vigour you’ll find in a Mini Electric, even if at pace there’s still some scope for fun.
You do have to be on one of those faster, flowing country roads to see the MX-30 at its best, however. On bumpier stretches, it lacks the good close body control to really impress. Given the fact that real-world range is limited, it’s tricky to shake the suspicion that most owners won’t ever experience what the Mazda really has to offer handling-wise unless and until they find good out-of-town driving roads with rapid chargers positioned just-so.
Around town, where the car’s relaxed steering can come across as slow, the MX-30 feels rather ordinary; forgettable, even. More steering effort is needed to get its nose to tuck in around roundabouts, where the likes of the Peugeot e-208 and Mini Electric feel far keener and more obviously agile. Here, it would be nice to have seen a bit more of that Mazda magic present itself in the sorts of environments where the MX-30 will be used for the vast majority of the time.
After its slightly forgettable performance around town, it was surprising to see just how keenly the MX-30 took to Millbrook’s challenging Hill Route. Though the limited power reserves prevented the car from accruing anything approaching big speeds, guiding it through the course’s tighter twists and turns proved to be an enjoyable experience.