2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Review: Zoom-Zoom Responsibly

The 2022 Mazda MX-30 is a compelling vehicle at face value. It’s a stylish electric compact, with the dynamics you expect of a modern Mazda, a quirky interior, and great features. And in terms of price, the base MX-30 costs $33,470, while the Premium Plus model adds more features for $36,480. But those attributes only paint part of a more disappointing picture.

With 100 miles of range and a puny 35.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack, Mazda’s first foray into the EV space falls well below average. It’s also only available in California for the time being, which some might categorize as a “compliance car.” Not to mention just 560 brave souls will be able to get their hands on one this year.

The good news is that a plug-in–hybrid version will be available in all 50 states, although that won’t happen for another few months. Until then, EV shoppers in the market for a Mazda should probably hold out to see what the next few years provide. While the MX-30 is an electric crossover high on charm and style, those benefits don’t outweigh this car’s many faults.

A vehicle’s ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

Quick Stats2022 Mazda MX-30 Premium Plus
Motor:Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
Output:143 Horsepower / 200 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH:9.6 Seconds
Base Price:$33,470 + $1,175 Destination Charge
As-Tested Price:$38,550

Design

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 8/10

  • Exterior Color: Ceramic Metallic
  • Interior Color: Black With Vintage Brown
  • Wheel Size: 18 Inches

Mazda’s Kodo design language looks beautiful on all of its vehicles, MX-30 included. The compact crossover borrows cues from the CX-30, like the sloped roofline and cladding, but it employs a sharper design language than the gas alternative. The MX-30’s front grille is smaller, the headlights are flatter and cleaner, and the C-pillar introduces a stylish silver trim with “MAZDA” embossing. The taillights with rounded LED finishes look great, too. And of course, the rear “freestyle” doors are a cool carryover from the dearly departed RX-8, and give the MX-30 a sleeker look.

The Ceramic Metallic paint on this tester with a standard black roof is an $895 option, although we recommend you spend the extra hundred bucks for Mazda’s signature Soul Red metallic ($995) – it’s way more interesting. And a single set of 18-inch wheels comes standard across the board, so the visual options are limited.

Inside is where the MX-30 stands out from the rest of the Mazda range. It features a revised take on the brand’s traditional interior design with a new shifter, an additional touchscreen for climate controls, and a gorgeous floating center console with storage behind it. The MX-30 even introduces a material uncommon in modern cars: cork. It’s a fun nod to the company
s inception as a cork manufacturer.

Cloth coats the center of the seats, with faux leather accents surrounding it. Black pleather dots the other surfaces of the MX-30’s cabin, and all of it looks and feels high-quality. Hard black plastics and brushed aluminum fixtures make up most of the center console too, and both of those materials are sturdy and feel nice to the touch.

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Comfort

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 7/10

  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: 21.0 Cubic Feet

The MX-30 offers ample overhead space and legroom if you’re sitting in either of the front chairs. The 38.5 inches of front headroom aren’t as good as what alternatives like the Ford Mustang Mach-E (40.5 inches) and Chevrolet Bolt (40.1 inches) offer, but the difference is barely noticeable for your six-foot–tall author.

The Mazda’s 41.6 inches of front legroom, on the other hand, are class-competitive – besting the Volkswagen ID.4 (41.4 inches) and Tesla Model Y (41.0) by a smidge, but still down compared to others like the Mach-E. The flat nature of the dash and the low-mounted center console helps things feel airy from the front compartment, too, even if the windshield is a bit narrow.

Pop open those funky rear “freestyle” doors and the dramatic coupe-like roofline yields limited space in the back seat. The 37.0 inches of headroom are just enough to keep me from scraping my head, and the 30.1 inches of legroom is restricting. The Mach-E (39.4 / 38.1), ID.4 (38.4 / 37.6), and nearly every other compact EV trounce the MX-30 in this respect – as well as in the cargo department. The MX-30 offers just 21.0 cubes behind its second row.

At least the MX-30 has a fantastic ride; the suspension delivers a perfect mix of soft and sporty. This plucky Mazda bounds over bumps and glides over pavement uninterrupted, and it’s quiet. The MX-30’s electric motor produces virtually no noise compared to the CX-30’s buzzy four-cylinder. Even on the highway, wind noise is barely intrusive.

Technology & Connectivity

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 8/10

  • Center Display: 8.8-Inch Screen / 7.5-Inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 7.0 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: No

The Mazda MX-30 gets two center screens as a result of the updated interior. Up top is an 8.8-inch display for basic infotainment functions, while a smaller 7.5-inch touchscreen sits lower on the center console, used exclusively for climate controls. And both of those screens are standard, as well as a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster that looks pretty and offers basic configurable features.

The main display is a non-touchable screen that runs the ubiquitous Mazda Connect user interface with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a console-mounted dial controller manages it all. Some Motor1.com editors find Mazda Connect difficult to use; not me. The home screen is clean, the layout is simple, and the dial controller makes navigating a breeze – especially Apple CarPlay. My only knock against the MX-30’s interface is that it lacks a dedicated function to find charging locations, as opposed to alternatives like the Mach-E.

On the flip side, the lower touchscreen for climate controls is too complicated – it takes multiple on-screen clicks to access basic functions. The buttons for quick-access options like temperature and fan speed help alleviate some of that fussiness, but overall, there’s still too much to try and decipher while driving.

Upgrading to the Premium Plus model tested here grants you access to a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system that sounds superb, and SiriusXM satellite radio, but not much else in the way of tech that you don’t get on the base model.

Performance & Handling

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 6/10

  • Motor: Single Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
  • Output: 143 Horsepower / 200 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic

The MX-30’s powertrain keeps it from being as fun-to-drive as its CX-30 sibling. The lone electric motor and 35.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack send just 143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet to the front wheels, which tugs the Mazda to 60 miles per hour in a lackluster 9.6 seconds. That’s slower than even the slowest alternatives; the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt are both about two seconds quicker per testing by other media outlets.

The MX-30’s lack of power meant burying my sneakers deep into the throttle to bring the car up to passing speed on the highway. Some onramps felt like an ordeal, with the pedal about plastered to the floorboard in order to match the speed of surrounding traffic. Between 50 and 60 mph, there’s a significant power plateau.

But I never yearned for more oomph while driving the MX-30 around town; the 200 lb-ft was plenty to bring the MX-30 up to speed from a red light or stop sign. The MX-30 also has ample passing power below 60, which makes it peppy enough for the city, and on top of that, it nails the basic Mazda driving properties. The MX-30 is agile, quick-reacting, and fun to fling around, just like the CX-30.

With a low center of gravity, aided by electric G-Vectoring Control Plus – which uses torque and braking to transfer weight as needed – the MX-30 is nearly as nimble as its gas CX-30 counterpart. The EV transfers its weight just as well, the steering offers the same modest heft, and it even feels like there’s a touch less body roll. The MX-30’s brake-by-wire technology makes the pedal feels natural underfoot, too, and easy to modulate, as opposed to the grabby brakes in the Mach-E.

Safety

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 8/10

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Not Rated

The base Mazda MX-30 offers ample safety features, with standard equipment like automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot monitoring, and high-beam assist. The Premium Plus model gains blind-spot assist – which applies steering adjustments when the car exits a lane – as well as a 360-degree overhead camera, front cross-traffic alert, a driver-monitoring camera, and rear parking sensors to go with the standard fronts.

Our sole gripe is with the lane-keep assist feature, which is reactive rather than proactive. It won’t keep the car centered in the lane like similar systems on competitors. Otherwise, the adaptive cruise control is fluid, high-beam assist illuminates darkened roads automatically and intuitively, and the 360-degree overhead camera makes navigating tight parking spots a breeze.

Fuel Economy

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 1/10

  • Range: 100 Miles
  • Combined MPGe: 92
  • Charge Time:  13.6 Hours @ 140 Volts / 2.8 Hours @ 240 Volts / 36 Minutes @ 50 Kilowatts

The MX-30 has the worst range of any modern EV, delivering a measly 100 miles from its 35.5-kWh battery pack. Mazda cites studies that show most people only drive about 30 miles a day as a way to justify that low mileage, but it’s a weak argument that fails to take into account less-than-ideal temperatures that can sap range.

Even with a smaller 32.6-kWh battery pack, the Mini Cooper SE still allows for 114 miles on a single charge. The Leaf (149 miles), Bolt (259 miles), Mach-E (270 miles), and Model Y (318 miles) triumph over the Mazda in base battery capacity and overall range. The lowest of the group – the Leaf – still delivers at least 149 miles, and the best of the bunch – the Model Y – allows up to 318 miles on a single charge.

To make matters worse, the MX-30 only has a maximum charging rate of 50 kilowatts. That’s an expected figure for the aging Leaf and okay for the tiny battery capacity of the Mini, but it’s below average for a new EV in 2021. On top of that, our colleagues at InsideEVs did a DC charging test and found that the MX-30 actually falls short of its proposed 50-kilowatt charging rate.

The good news is, that when charging at 50 kilowatts, the MX-30 does reach 80 percent in just 36 minutes. That’s faster than the Leaf, which takes at least 40 minutes at 50 kilowatts, and equal to the Mini. Alternatively, the Mazda fills up in two hours and 50 minutes on a Level 2 charger. I plugged into an Electrify America DC fast charging station with seven percent and seven miles of range, then unplugged less than an hour later with 84 percent and 80 miles of range.

During our 10 days with the MX-30, we recorded 3.0 miles per kilowatt-hour over 100 miles of testing, with a mix of highway and city driving and healthy use of the two-step regenerative braking system, adjustable via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. That’s a solid number for a car with such a diminutive range, but that doesn’t discount the below-average EPA rating. The MX-30 achieves an MPGe rating of 98 city, 85 highway, and 92 combined, whereas the Mini (108 combined), Mustang (100 combined), and Volkswagen ID.4 (97 combined) all best the Mazda.

Pricing

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 4/10

  • Base Price: $33,470 + $1,175 Destination Charge
  • Trim Base Price: $36,480
  • As-Tested Price: $38,550

With the $1,175 destination fee, the base Mazda MX-30 costs $34,645 and the Premium Plus model tested here starts at $36,480. The most affordable EV in the class is the Leaf, which asks $28,375 to start, followed by the Mini SE ($30,750) and the Chevrolet Bolt EV ($31,995). Higher-range options, like the Mach-E and ID.4, start at $43,995 and $41,190, respectively.

Both versions of the MX-30 are well-equipped, with the only option on the Premium Plus model being paint; Machine Grey ($495), Polymetal Grey ($895), Ceramic ($895), or Soul Red ($995). All of the active safety features and technology aforementioned come standard on this trim, so there’s no splurging on a larger screen. The as-tested price for this car comes out to $38,550 with paint and destination included.

The two big caveats here are that the Mazda MX-30 EV is only available for purchase in California, and the company only plans to sell 560 examples in the first year. Buyers in other states won’t have access to the EV, but will be able to buy the plug-in–hybrid model arriving later next year, yet there’s no word on pricing for that model.

Still, the MX-30’s mid-range value combined with worst-on-the-market- range makes it a tough sell, even for California shoppers. As with any Mazda, the brand wants you to buy in on its near-premium features and dynamic characteristics, and in those respects, the MX-30 is definitely a charmer. But the sacrifices in range and power are too much for a majority of shoppers at this cost – only the most Mazda-obsessed city dwellers need apply.

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