WHILE the vast majority of car makers shifted their focus to the new age of fully electric motoring, Mazda remained stubbornly defiant in pushing the limits of the internal combustion engine through its Sky-activ-X technologies.

Now it’s time for Mazda to enter this challenging era with a compact fully electric SUV that is a stylish looker, versatile for its size and above all driver-focused.

It also has an affordable starting price of £25,545 and even comes with a free home charger wall box.

There’s an electric motor and a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery for propulsion and it is the company’s decision to opt for a smaller and lighter battery that will cause most discussions on its merits.

On the downside, it delivers a range of 124 miles, which is considerably lower than you will find in larger SUVs. Rapid charging will, however, get you fully fired up again in a little over half an hour.

The benefit of using this smaller battery is that you will still get the sort of imperious drive for which the company has become famed and recognised and the lifetime CO2 emissions are lower. It really is an excellent car to drive.

Being a Mazda, the MX-30 not only delivers excellent drive qualities but also features a beautifully designed cabin and a rather odd feature that comes straight out of the Expect The Unexpected box.

Making the most of its compact dimensions, the MX-30 comes with freestyle (reverse-hinged) rear doors that are a throwback to the firm’s RX-8 sports car. I can only recall the Ford B-Class and of course Rolls-Royce models using a similar system.

In addition to 350 First Edition models that have some nice cosmetic and comfort touches including a powered driver’s seat, the MX-30 range features three model grades – SE-L Lux, Sport Lux and GT Sport Tech.

Standard equipment includes LED headlights with daytime running lights, reversing camera, radar cruise control with intelligent speed assist, satellite navigation and head-up display. You also get very comfy seats.

In a nod to its past – Mazda started out as a cork company in 1920 – the centre console trays and inner side door handles are cork-lined. It’s a quirky touch that comes straight out of that box of tricks.

More conventionally, there’s a seven-inch touchscreen climate control panel in the expensive-looking surroundings.

Those rear doors open backwards to an angle of 80 degrees to reveal the inviting interior.

The MX-30’s 366-litre boot is provides only adequate space, but a sub-trunk beneath the floor offers additional space for storing small items. With the rear seats folded, the volume extends to 1,171 litres.

Delivering the sort of high-quality look and feel expected of Mazda’s latest interiors, from Sport Lux onwards the MX-30 features chrome detailing on the steering wheel, power button surround and the glovebox handle, while the interior equipment tally on GT Sport Tech includes a heated steering wheel, a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound system and a handy 150W standard UK 3-pin plug socket for charging devices.

All Mazda MX-30s feature a seven-inch colour touch screen for climate control settings, which for easy use also features physical buttons for key functions. All cars have an 8.8-inch colour centre display screen with Mazda Connect infotainment and navigation as standard. The intuitive Multimedia Commander control dial features a separate volume dial. All models have a windscreen projected colour head up display with traffic sign recognition.

The MX-30 features the latest version of Mazda Connect, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Attention has been paid to the driving position and the connection between car and driver. The MX-30’s seating is set higher to secure a clear and unobstructed view.

Mazda’s first battery electric vehicle is superb in so many ways. A plug-in hybrid version will follow.

The lowdown

Mazda MX-30

Price: from £25,545

Powertrain: 35.5 kWh battery delivering 143bhp and 124-mile range

Transmission: Automatic driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 9.7 seconds; top speed 87mph

Economy: 4p a mile estimated

CO2 emissions: 0g/km

Star ratings

Performance: *****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****