Finally, the first electrified Mazda has arrived! This battery-electric vehicle pays homage to several vehicles including the iconic RX-8 sports car. With its subcompact crossover form, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 lands in a highly competitive segment. From the form factor to its shape, it brings a lot of promise and mass appeal. Yet, it retains some quirks that give it a distinct identity. After a week with it, two factors stood out…and not in a good way.
2022 Mazda MX-30: Prettiness Comes at a Price
The 2022 MX-30 possesses sharp looks and lots of neat details. While it uses the same underpinnings as the Mazda3 and CX-30, it trades the traditional shape for a fast-descending roofline. It retains the clean design language of the brand’s recent models. Cool details like three-dimensional taillights complement the modern, tasteful exterior. The multi-tone exterior color turns heads, blending the fantastic Soul Red Crystal paint with grey and silver. Mazda also did a fantastic job translating its corporate look into an electrified vehicle. Its grille transforms into a thinner opening but remains connected to the headlights.
This crossover remains one of only a handful of models on sale today with suicide doors. Like in an access cab truck and the RX-8 coupe, they’re half the size, making entry and exit a hassle. Together with the coupe-like roofline, it makes the MX-30 less practical than your typical small SUV. Even with the rear seats folded, you don’t get much cargo space because the rear window eats into the cabin. Passengers get reasonable amounts of space but keep it to four people to maximize comfort. While you can fit three across the back, it’s too tight due to the car’s narrowness. At least you get lots of useful storage areas thanks to the floating center console.
Sustainable Yet Stylish
Mazda made extensive use of renewable materials throughout the MX-30’s interior. Portions of the door cards use components made of recycled PET bottles. On the center console, you find cork surfacing, paying homage to Mazda’s heritage as a cork maker in 1920. Only the steering wheel and shifter use leather. Everything else uses leatherette and fabric upholstery. Like the exterior, the interior features a multi-tone scheme. This test car couples gray and black with white and is complemented by brown piping and striping.
In typical Mazda fashion, the materials used throughout the cabin exude an upscale aura. Everything you touch feels substantial and expensive, and yes, that includes the renewable components. Together with excellent levels of sound insulation, the MX-30’s cabin punches above its weight. This easily fits in a vehicle with a premium badge because everything inside impresses.
Full disclosure: I used to own a 2014 Mazda3 hatchback, which served as my workhorse for six years. That means I’ve lived with Mazda’s infotainment system for an extended period. While that car had the older version, the new iteration found in the MX-30 isn’t much different. You get similar control just without a touchscreen. That means you need to control the 8.8-inch display with the set of knobs and buttons behind the shifter. Quick responses and shortcuts simplify things, allowing you to easily jump between the main UI and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. However, the interface could do with fewer submenus because certain functions require you to dig deep into multiple layers. The 12-speaker Bose audio system, on the other hand, provides an exceptional listening experience. Excellent cabin coverage and clarity provide a higher level of immersion
Mazda does driver assistance features differently from other automakers. While others tend to tune their to react sooner and more proactively, the driver needs to remain attentive in the MX-30. Components like lane centering warn you first and only make corrections when you don’t respond. Adaptive cruise control, on the other hand, works as expected and does a good job maintaining your set distance. Once again, you must pay attention closely to what’s happening around you because the system won’t correct you right away. Additionally, the front collision mitigation systems tend to overreact, resulting in them acting like overprotective nannies. Recalibrating these components to work more naturally will allow them to operate less intrusively.
2022 Mazda MX-30: Engaging and Comfortable
The MX-30 shows that Mazda knows how to make EVs fun to drive. Like its internal combustion siblings, this little SUV loves corners and happily slices through them. Minimal body roll and good grip levels keep the 2022 Mazda MX-30 feeling confident on the road. It also possesses one of the best electric power steering systems, featuring good feedback, weighting, and accuracy. You won’t sacrifice comfort either despite the standard 18-inch wheels. The suspension does a fantastic job keeping harsh impacts out of the cabin even with a semi-independent torsion beam in the rear.
Mazda gave the MX-30 relatively modest output by EV standard. The single electric drive motor makes 143 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque turning only the front wheels. Together with the car’s 3,655-pound curb weight, it’s far from quick. However, it’s not woefully underpowered either because the instant torque makes it easy to pass slower traffic and climb steep grades. Don’t expect the power to push you into your seats because Mazda tuned this for a linear build-up instead of a sudden wallop of torque.
Four levels of regenerative braking allow you to tailor the way the 2022 Mazda MX-30 drives via the paddles on the steering wheel. Put it in maximum strength and you get stronger energy recuperation, minimizing the need to use the brake pedal to slow down. Turn in completely off and the crossover reacts more like an internal combustion vehicle, requiring you to use the brakes more often. Unlike other EVs, the MX-30 lacks a one-pedal driving mode. Even with regenerative braking in its strongest setting, it won’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Thankfully, you get imperceptible transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking to keep things smooth.
Limited Fun Times
As fun and refined as the MX-30 is, its driving range effectively limits its appeal. With its 35.5-kWh battery pack, the crossover gets an EPA rating of 100 miles per charge. This immediately narrows the car’s appeal to a handful of consumers wanting a car strictly as a city runabout. Additionally, it puts the car behind older and established affordable competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt family and Nissan Leaf, both of which travel farther on a single charge. During my week, I managed to beat the official estimates, traveling 134 miles on a charge in mixed driving and 100 miles in one day with more stints on the freeway. Even with that considered, the MX-30’s range remains lackluster.
The other factor limiting the MX-30’s appeal is its charge rate. While a peak DC charging speed of 50 kW puts it in the same ballpark as the Mini Cooper SE and the Chevrolet Bolt family, I never saw that during my session. It hovered between 35 and 38 kW from 8 to 65 percent before dropping to 30 kW and staying there until 80 percent. Unfortunately, that’s still below its peak rate, resulting in longer than expected DC charging times. My DC charging took 41 minutes to go from 8 to 80 percent. Mazda claims a 20 to 80 percent charge in the MX-30 takes 36 minutes.
The moral of the story: charge the MX-30 at home where you can take advantage of lower electricity rates at the 6.6-kW onboard charger. On a level 2 AC charger, it takes just under 3 hours to get to 100 percent. Having the ability to schedule your charging times also helps mitigate electricity costs by starting it during non-peak hours.
2022 Mazda MX-30: Compliance Car?
With a starting price of $34,495, the MX-30 ranks among the more affordable EVs on the market. This Premium Plus test car finished in Soul Red Crystal tri-tone stickers for $38,650 before the $7,500 federal tax credit and state and local incentives. Despite staying under $40,000 even when fully loaded, the MX-30’s value proposition falls short due to competitors offering similar or superior content plus more range. While not as upscale as the Mazda, cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV bring more to the table for similar money. Even without the federal tax credits, these three still offer a stronger proposition than the Mazda, especially when you add practicality to the equation.
To many consumers (and the media), the Mazda MX-30 screams compliance car. While they’re not wrong, this car simply isn’t one suite for the North American market. Had Mazda equipped this version with a larger battery that charges faster and a more powerful electric motor, it would’ve been a viable rival to the current crop of electric crossovers. Sadly, that’s not what happened and it left the MX-30 trailing the pack. Mazda says a plug-in hybrid version joins the lineup soon featuring a rotary engine as a range extender but it didn’t provide a time frame. Until that or a long-range version with a larger battery arrives, it’s hard to recommend the 2022 Mazda MX-30 over similarly priced cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EUV. Between the range and price, the viability isn’t there in this day and age unless you’re using it specifically as an errands runner.