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With new Mazda MX-30, Toyota Corolla Cross and Nissan Qashqai incoming, we bet 2021 will be the year you buy an electric small SUV

Mazda's MX-30 is the brand's first all-electric model, but its also available as a mild-hybrid for those concerned about range.

Australian customers are yet to embrace electric cars with open arms, but Toyota has proven with its RAV4 that we aren’t shy about jumping on a hybrid powertrain.

Though Toyota models adopt a parallel hybrid set-up (with a separate petrol engine and electric motor), there are other ways different brands use to electrify an engine, such as mild-hybrid and plug-in options.

With SUV sales now outstripping passenger cars, the small crossover will be the battlefield to get new customers into electrified models, and in 2021, there will be more choice than ever before, so here is what is available for those looking for a frugal and easy-to-park high rider.

Mazda MX-30

Mazda’s first foray into the electric vehicle (EV) space will come in the form of the funky MX-30, though those not yet ready to be tethered to a charging cable can opt for the mild-hybrid version.

The battery-electric MX-30 doesn’t boast too long of a range (around 224km), but the mild-hybrid pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a 24-volt system to keep fuel economy to just 6.4 litres per 100km.

Aside from the propulsion options, the MX-30 features Mazda’s crisp design inside and out, with standout features including rearward opening doors (like the RX-8), sustainable cabin materials and an all-digital instrument panel.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Already on sale overseas, the Toyota Corolla Cross won’t land in local showrooms until later in 2021 or even early 2022, but it could be a model worth waiting for if its Yaris Cross and RAV4 siblings are any indication.

Riding on the same platform as the Corolla hatchback and looking like a smaller RAV4, the Corolla Cross can be had with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain with a maximum output of 90kW and a fuel economy figure of just 4.3L/100km.

Equipment highlights – at least for overseas versions – include high levels of standard safety systems, LED head- and tail-lights, and a 9.0-inch multimedia screen.

Hyundai Kona Electric

For those that want to do away with a petrol bowser altogether, Hyundai’s funky Kona small SUV has been available with a full-electric powertrain since early 2019.

However, a facelifted version is due to hit showrooms sometime in the first half of 2021, complete with a large 64kWh battery that enables a driving range of up to 484km on a full charge.

Paired with the cutting-edge drivetrain is a cutting-edge interior and safety systems, with highlights including a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen and autonomous emergency braking.

Kia e-Niro

Kia originally planned to bring in its all-electric e-Niro for the 2020 Australian Open tennis tournament, but demand in overseas markets meant the South Korean brand had to prioritise them over us.

However, the time has nearly come for the e-Niro, with Kia now earmarking a mid-2021 release for it’s the all-electric SUV.

Sharing similarities with its Hyundai Kona Electric cousin, the e-Niro is available with a 64kWh battery for more than 450km of driving range, which should be enough to last the average motorist about a week before needing a recharge.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV

Instead of opting for a mild- or parallel-hybrid system, Mitsubishi has instead pillaged the plug-in electric set-up of the Outlander mid-size SUV for its new Eclipse Cross flagship.

Pairing a 2.4-litre petrol engine with twin electric motors (one for each axle) means the Eclipse Cross PHEV will score all-wheel-drive traction, while the 13.8kWh battery is good for around 57km of range.

The best part? After the battery is depleted the Eclipse Cross will run off the petrol engine, meaning owners will never get stranded anywhere looking for a place to charge.

Nissan Qashqai

Though Nissan is saving the full reveal of the next-gen Qashqai for 2021, the Japanese brand has already confirmed each engine in the new crossover will be electrified.

On the lower end, there will be a 1.3-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology, but the flagship Qashqai will score Nissan’s e-Power set-up that uses a small petrol engine to charge the batteries and power the electric motor.

Exterior styling is expected to remain close to the current car, but the cabin should see a noticeable step up in technology and refinement.

Subaru XV

Subaru has doubled the number of available XV Hybrid grades less than 12 months after the fuel-sipping variant arrived.

Now available as either the Hybrid L or Hybrid S, priced at $35,490 and $40,790 before on-road costs respectively, the electrified XV makes use of an e-Boxer powertrain consisting of a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor.

With a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) sending drive to all four wheels, fuel economy is kept to a respectable 6.5L/100km.


It may surprise you that Australia’s most affordable all-electric vehicle is not only a small SUV, but also an MG.

The ZS EV hit showrooms earlier this year with a very attractive $40,990 before on-road costs pricetag, making it nearly $10,000 more affordable than the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

Despite the small pricetag, the ZS EV’s 44.5kWh battery will still net you around 262km of driving range, which shouldn’t be a problem for most inner-city urbanites.