GT Sport Tech
Is the Mazda MX-30 a crossover or a city car?
We’ve already established that though the Mazda MX-30 is the same size and shape as a crossover, its tiny battery and cramped rear-seats mean it competes not with e-SUVs like the Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008, but style-led city cars like the excellent Mini Electric and even excellenter TG Award-winning Honda e.
And the new all-electric Fiat 500, which you’ll recognise from the broadly favourable review hidden behind these blue words. Like the Honda it sits on a new EV-only platform so there is no combustion-engine version, though the hugely popular ‘old’ 500 will remain on sale for the “foreseeable” according to Fiat. We can confirm it is A Good Car.
If you compare like-for-like, factoring in standard kit, the 500 and MX-30 are there or thereabouts when it comes to price (whether you’re leasing or buying outright).
The Fiat gets two battery options to the Mazda’s one. Prices start at £20,495 post-grant for the 24kWh 500. That’s way less than any MX-30, Honda e or Mini Electric, but then it can only do up to 118 miles WLTP between charges.
The one Fiat reckons everyone will actually buy is the more generously specified 500 ‘Icon’ with the bigger 42kWh battery, costing £25,495 post-grant. It aligns pretty well on spec with the entry-level Mazda, which costs £26,045 post-grant and like every MX-30 comes with a 35.5kWh battery.
The big-battery Fiat has a huge range advantage over the Mazda – and not just because it has more kilowatt hours to play with, but because it’s significantly lighter and smaller, so it’s more efficient. Fiat claims up to 199 miles WLTP, while the MX-30 can only muster a claimed 124-mile range.
The Mazda’s real-world range is around 100 miles. More testing is required to determine what you can realistically expect from the 500, but experience tells us it ought to manage 180 miles or so.
If you’re a single-car household, with no ICE car for longer journeys, the Mazda’s range (or lack thereof) could be a problem. The company has its reasons for equipping the MX-30 with such a small battery, but I suspect its meagre range will lead many potential buyers to dismiss it out of hand.
Where the Mazda comes good is space. The Fiat feels like a city car inside, because that’s exactly what it is. The Japanese car has a much bigger, more useful boot and, while you still wouldn’t want to spend much time in them, its rear seats are more comfortable and easier to get into. Its dashboard feels higher quality, and though not as feature-rich, its infotainment is easier to use. The MX-30 feels more substantial on the road too, especially on the motorway, and you might like that added security and stability. In town, though, Fiat’s compact dimensions and better manoeuvrability give it the edge.
Tough one, this. It’s not for us to decide which one of these cars fits your life better, only to compare their relative merits. And honestly having driven the new 500 and MX-30 back-to-back, I think for most people the Fiat is an easier sell.
Not just because of the extra range – we’re huge fans of the Honda e, remember, and that can’t go very far at all between charges – but because it takes less rationalising. The 500 is a city car that does city car things, whereas the Mazda is a city car-slash-crossover that does city car things a little bit less well than a conventional city car, and crossover things a little bit less well than a conventional crossover.
The MX-30 is worth considering providing you can live with the range. I’m enjoying running it, but I remain unconvinced it’s the EV Mazda ought to have led with.