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Mazda MX-30 2021 review: M Hybrid

The MX-30 small SUV is finally here, with the M Hybrid things off ahead before the Electric arrives.
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Thanks to focus on design and the environment, the MX-30 small SUV is arguably Mazda's most interesting new model in years. However, the eagerly anticipated electric version isn't here just yet. That said, the M Hybrid is, and as it turns out, it's a mild child that doesn't quite go far enough.

Mazda is finally having its first real crack at an electric car, with its new MX-30 small SUV set to test the waters.

But the MX-30 you see here isn’t the Electric version. Instead, it’s the M Hybrid, or mild hybrid.

Yep, the Electric isn’t here just yet, but the M Hybrid is being offered as an intriguing taste test (and will eventually be the more affordable option in the range).

But with low emissions clearly a priority, does the MX-30 M Hybrid go far enough? Read on.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   10/10

The MX-30 M Hybrid is clearly a Mazda model, but it’s also unlike anything the brand has produced before.

Up front, its LED headlights and daytime running lights are familiar, but the alluring grille they intersect with looks like a letterbox when compared to Mazda’s usually oversized item. Even the MX-5 sports car has a larger mouth!

And there’s also no escaping the MX-30 M Hybrid’s black plastic cladding, which follows the precedent set by the related CX-30 small SUV. In this instance, though, an attractive set of 18-inch alloy wheels fills the wheelarches.

But the key attraction is the striking set of ‘freestyle’ rear doors, which are taken straight from one of the brand’s sports cars, the iconic (and discontinued) RX-8, but more on them later.

The MX-30 M Hybrid is unlike anything the brand has produced before. The MX-30 M Hybrid is unlike anything the brand has produced before.

The steeply raked roofline is another MX-30 M Hybrid calling card, leading to the rear’s LED tail-lights, which are once again familiar.

Inside, the MX-30 M Hybrid is quite clearly different to any other Mazda model, with a variety of eco-friendly materials used throughout, including ‘vintage’ cork on the ‘floating’ centre console.

Depending on the variant, Maztex ‘vegan’ leather upholstery is also a prominent fixture across various surfaces, while a fibrous material (made from recycled PET bottles) is used for the door shoulders and inserts no matter what.

But make no mistake, the MX-30 M Hybrid still feels premium, with the upper dashboard made of a lovely soft-touch plastic with ‘stitching’, while the gear selector and the steering wheel’s rim are trimmed in their own black leather.

The steeply raked roofline is another MX-30 M Hybrid calling card. The steeply raked roofline is another MX-30 M Hybrid calling card.

The MX-30 M Hybrid also stands out from the crowd with its 7.0-inch touchscreen for the climate controls. Positioned at the front of the centre console, this new set-up works really well, although, confusingly it does have redundant physical buttons on both sides…

What’s more confusing, though, is its relationship with the 8.8-inch central display, which is not a touchscreen. Instead, it’s controlled by a rotary dial, which is a smart move when it comes to safety. But it all works well, even if the approaches are different.

The latest Mazda Connect multimedia system powers everything, and while it’s certainly not the flashiest, it gets the job done As always, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, should they be preferred.

And, of course, a useful 7.0-inch multifunction display is located ahead of the driver, occupying the space between the traditional tachometer and speedometer. Better yet, a head-up display is projected onto the windshield to make it all foolproof.

The key attraction is the striking set of ‘freestyle’ rear doors. The key attraction is the striking set of ‘freestyle’ rear doors.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

Measuring 4395mm long (with a 2655mm wheelbase), 1795mm wide and 1545mm tall, the MX-30 M Hybrid is larger than your average small SUV, but that’s not to say it has class-leading practicality.

For example, the boot’s cargo capacity is below average, at 311L, although it can be increased to 876L by stowing the 60/40 split-fold rear bench. This action is performed via manual release latches that can be reached from the tailgate, but it does create a small hump.

There’s also a small load lip to contend with, which makes loading bulkier items that little bit more difficult, although two tie-down points are on hand to help secure loose cargo, while there are two very small side cubbies for storing appropriately sized gear.

Now, given the rear doors are of the ‘freestyle’ variety, getting in and out of the second row is a little different, with the front doors needing to be opened first in order to expose the required doorhandles.

The MX-30 M Hybrid is larger than your average small SUV, but that’s not to say it has class-leading practicality. The MX-30 M Hybrid is larger than your average small SUV, but that’s not to say it has class-leading practicality.

Once the doors are open, a rather small aperture is exposed (hence the poor over-the-shoulder visibility), and depending on your body shape, it can be difficult to navigate. It’s not a contortionist’s job, but it’s certainly not straightforward.

Anyway, behind our 184cm driving position, an inch of legroom is available, while a couple of centimetres of headroom is offered, even with that coupe-style roofline. Needless to say, it’s pretty tight.

And if you need to seat three adults abreast, make sure it’s a short journey, because there’s not a lot of width to play with. To make it even more challenging, the transmission tunnel is on the larger side, so there is only room for so many feet.

That said, child seats can still be fitted by using the two ISOFIX and three top-tether anchorage points on hand, although it could very well prove to be too tight for some.

Behind our 184cm driving position, only an inch of legroom is available. Behind our 184cm driving position, only an inch of legroom is available.

Amenities-wise, the second row is somewhat forgotten, missing out on directional air vents and any sort of connectivity option, be it a USB port or a 12V power outlet.

The front-seat backrests also lack map pockets, but rear occupants are treated to a fold-down armrest with two cupholders, while the door bins are just large enough to take one regular bottle each.

In the front row, things are much better, with the ‘floating’ centre console’s lower level featuring not only a large open cubby, but two USB-A ports and a 12V power outlet.

The central bin and glovebox are also decently sized, while a sunglasses holder is found overhead. And the driver also gets a very small fold-out cubby on their side, ready to swallow up some loose change.

Interestingly, the two cupholders in the middle of the centre console can be covered by ‘vintage cork’ lids, which is a nice touch that creates an additional area where a smartphone can be placed. And the front doors can also accommodate regular bottles.

The boot’s cargo capacity is below average, at 311L. The boot’s cargo capacity is below average, at 311L.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

As a small SUV, the MX-30 M Hybrid finds itself in a highly competitive segment, facing stiff competition from the Toyota C-HR Hybrid ($37,665) and Subaru XV Hybrid ($35,490 to $40,790) as well as the soon-to-be-launched Kia Niro Hybrid.

The MX-30 M Hybrid is available in three variants, with the entry-level G20e Evolve priced from $33,990 plus on-road costs, while the mid-range G20e Touring and flagship G20e Astina check in at $36,490 and $40,990 respectively.

As such, the MX-30 M Hybrid’s three variants are $1400, $1300 and $1800 more expensive than the mechanically related CX-30 G20 small SUV’s Evolve, Touring and Astina equivalents.

As a small SUV, the MX-30 M Hybrid finds itself in a highly competitive segment. As a small SUV, the MX-30 M Hybrid finds itself in a highly competitive segment.

Either way, standard equipment in the G20e Evolve includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-folding side mirrors, push-button start, satellite navigation, digital radio, an eight-speaker sound system, a head-up display, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and black/grey cloth upholstery.

The G20e Touring adds an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror with memory functionality, keyless entry, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory functionality, illuminated front vanity mirrors and Pure White Maztex/grey cloth upholstery.

The G20e Astina also picks up adaptive LED headlights, heated side mirrors, a sunroof, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and Vintage Brown Maztex/black cloth upholstery.

The MX-30 M Hybrid is available in three variants. The MX-30 M Hybrid is available in three variants.

Options-wise, the G20e Astina goes it alone with three two-tone metallic paintwork options: Ceramic with a black roof and grey pillars for $995, and Soul Red Crystal with a black roof and grey pillars, or Polymetal Grey with a black roof and silver pillars for $1490.

Single-tone metallic paintwork options Polymetal Grey and Machine Grey can be optioned on any variant for $495, while Jet Black, Artic White and Ceramic are the range-wide no-cost options.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Much like the CX-30 G20, the MX-30 M Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, dubbed SkyActiv-G, which produces a merely average 114kW of power at 6000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

The MX-30 M Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. The MX-30 M Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine.

That said, the MX-30 M Hybrid separates itself from the CX-30 G20 by adding a mild-hybrid system, which combines a 24V battery with a belt-driven integrated starter generator (ISG) to provide a small electric torque boost.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a tried-and-true six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Thanks to its mild-hybrid system, the MX-30 M Hybrid has regenerative braking and extended idle-stop functionality.

These features help to reduce its fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) to an underwhelming 6.4L/100km, while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 150g/km.

Why underwhelming? Well, the CX-30 G20 manages 6.5L/100km and 152g/km, so the benefits of the mild-hybrid system aren’t that great on paper, especially when compared to full-hybrid models.

The MX-30 M Hybrid has regenerative braking and extended idle-stop functionality. The MX-30 M Hybrid has regenerative braking and extended idle-stop functionality.

In our real-world testing, we recorded a higher 7.1L/100km over 255km of driving, with the launch route primarily taking place on high-speed country roads and highways, so expect a slightly higher return in stop-start city traffic.

For reference, the MX-30 M Hybrid has a 51L fuel tank that takes more affordable 91RON petrol at minimum.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

ANCAP awarded the MX-30 its maximum five-star safety rating in 2020, with all three of its M Hybrid variants getting full marks from the independent safety authority.

Range-wide advanced driver-assist systems generously extend to front autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with intersection assist and pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and emergency assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, high-beam assist, active blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, rear AEB, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and tyre-pressure monitoring.

Range-wide advanced driver-assist systems generously extend to front autonomous emergency braking. Range-wide advanced driver-assist systems generously extend to front autonomous emergency braking.

While steering assist, driver monitoring, front cross-traffic alert, surround-view cameras and front parking sensors are also fitted to the G20e Astina, they can be added to the G20e Evolve and G20e Touring by optioning a $1500 Vision Technology package.

This is disappointing because steering assist and front parking sensors, in particular, should be fitted across the range from the get-go.

Other standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags (dual front, front-side, rear-side and curtain plus driver’s knee and front-centre) anti-skid brakes and the usual electronic traction and stability-control systems.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

As with all Mazda models, the MX-30 M Hybrid comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assistance, both of which are average when compared to Kia’s market-leading seven-year terms with ‘no strings attached’.

The MX-30 M Hybrid comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. The MX-30 M Hybrid comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

And the MX-30 M Hybrid’s service intervals are on the short side when it comes to distance, at every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.

That said, capped-price servicing is available for the first five visits, costing $1942 in total, which is fairly reasonable.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

It won’t surprise you to hear that the MX-30 M Hybrid is awfully similar to the CX-30 G20 to drive.

While the MX-30 M Hybrid does have an ISG, the electric torque boost it brings is so small that it’s nearly imperceptible.

What is obvious, though, is how underpowered the shared engine is on a high-speed country road. Stick the boot in and progress is measured, and it becomes even slower when accelerating up a hill.

That said, the level of non-turbocharged performance on offer is perfectly suited to the urban jungle, where other vehicles and traffic lights slow down the commute.

It won’t surprise you to hear that the MX-30 M Hybrid is awfully similar to the CX-30 G20 to drive. It won’t surprise you to hear that the MX-30 M Hybrid is awfully similar to the CX-30 G20 to drive.

Either way, the transmission serves up smooth but leisurely gear changes, although it is responsive to spontaneous inputs, which is always a good thing. For that reason, you needn’t bother with the Sport drive mode, which has higher shift points.

The MX-30 M Hybrid leads from the front when it comes to ride and handling, though, with its suspension doing the job nicely, despite combining MacPherson struts up front with a less sophisticated torsion beam at the rear.

While independent rear suspension would undoubtedly improve matters, the MX-30 M Hybrid still rides comfortably, although it does become a little unsettled over uneven roads and broken surfaces.

Even more confidence is demonstrated when attacking a corner, with the MX-30 M Hybrid exhibiting minimal body roll in spite of its higher centre of gravity. In fact, it never really feels out of control.

The MX-30 M Hybrid leads from the front when it comes to ride and handling. The MX-30 M Hybrid leads from the front when it comes to ride and handling.

Push a little harder and the impact of the MX-30 M Hybrid’s 1500kg kerb weight is felt, but the resulting understeer is never prominent.

Apart from the wooden pedal feel, braking performance is also solid, and so too is the electric power steering, which is well-weighted at high speed. Better yet, it’s direct and happy to provide feedback, too.

However, this set-up does prove to be a little too heavy at lower speeds, making everyday manoeuvres like parking and U-turns more difficult to perform than they need to be.

Noise levels are quite good, with Mazda making serious strides in that area in recent times. Nonetheless, the engine is loud when it’s worked hard, which is often outside of the city, while tyre roar and wind whistle do penetrate the cabin when travelling quickly.

Verdict

If standing out from the crowd is your thing, it’s hard to go past the MX-30 M Hybrid when cross-shopping it with the related CX-30 G20 or any other small SUV, especially when in G20e Evolve form.

That said, if you really want to go low emissions, the MX-30 M Hybrid is obviously not on the same level as its full-hybrid rivals.

And if you’re thinking about going zero emissions instead, the MX-30 Electric is around the corner, so hold on a little longer because the bones are clearly there for truly something unique.

 

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$37,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$33,990
Highest Price
$40,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
G20E Astina Mhev 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, 6 SP AUTO $40,990 2021 Mazda MX-30 2021 G20E Astina Mhev Pricing and Specs
G20E Evolve Mhev 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, 6 SP AUTO $33,990 2021 Mazda MX-30 2021 G20E Evolve Mhev Pricing and Specs
G20E Evolve Vision Mhev 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, 6 SP AUTO $35,490 2021 Mazda MX-30 2021 G20E Evolve Vision Mhev Pricing and Specs
G20E Touring Mhev 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, 6 SP AUTO $36,490 2021 Mazda MX-30 2021 G20E Touring Mhev Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Design10
Practicality6
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving8
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.