In an effort to please the unelected overlords at the California Air Resources Board, whose draconian fuel economy requirements that led Mazda to sell a car like the 2022 Mazda MX-30, an electric crossover with a mere 100 miles of range. Elsewhere, the MX-30 will be sold as a plug-in-hybrid for 2023, a move that makes far more sense.
This California compliance car lacks the range of some of its competitors, although its starting price of $33,470 make it a fairly affordable commuter car. That price doesn’t include destination charge, nor any federal or state tax credits.
The test vehicle included the $4,195 Premium Plus Page, which adds the sort of driver assistance aids you might expect, such as such as blind-spot assist, parking sensors and front cross traffic alert. It also adds such welcome features as a heated steering wheel, Bose premium audio system, auto-dimming side mirrors, cargo area light, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Thoughtfully, all MX-30 buyers get a $500 credit that can be used at ChargePoint chargers, or toward the purchase of a Level 2 home charger. Buyers also receive 10 free rentals of a Mazda of their choice from their Mazda dealer, just in case life takes you farther than 100 miles.
Its short stance and raked backlight lend the MX-30 a sporty, pugnacious stance that’s appealing and the test car’s two-tone paint scheme was fetching. The MX-30 has rear-hinged half-doors last seen on the Mazda RX-8, making it easy to access the rear seats, but they require opening the front door first. Despite its unique appearance, the MX-30 didn’t attract much attention, but its unique backlight made it easy to spot in a parking lot.
The MX-30’s beguiling modern interior is distinctly Mazda. Modern and upscale, it features a center console that’s positively sculptural. It’s accented in cork, a nod to Mazda’s origins as a cork manufacturer in the 1920s. It adds a distinctive idiosyncratic touch to the cabin.
Head and leg room are good up front, but there’s little leg room in the rear seat, requiring front seat passengers to sit well forward if anyone wants to sit back there. Better to fold the seats and use it to expand the cargo area. Unusually, the climate controls are housed on a touchscreen that’s framed by buttons for frequently used functions — it proves easy to use. And the heated steering wheel on the test car only heats the sides of the wheel, but not the top and bottom.
For now, a 35.5-kWh battery pack powers the MX-30’s sole electric motor, which produces 143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Recharging the battery takes 2.5 hours with a Level 2 charger, and 36 minutes with a Level 3 charger. A plug-in hybrid electric model will be offered in the remaining 49 states for the 2023 model year.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance for Highway Safety has crash-tested the MX-30. Standard driver assistance systems include stability control, traction control, hill hold assist, lane departure warning system, lane keep assist, radar cruise control with stop and go, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.
The 8.8-inch infotainment screen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But the infotainment system is controlled through a rotary controller, which is less than ideal. And its user interface requires too many clicks for some functions, a problem common to all Mazdas.
Initial throttle response on the MX-30 doesn’t feel as quick off the line as some other EVs, but it proves more than responsive nonetheless without the jerkiness that comes from lead-footed EV drivers. That said, when you need more power, you do have to floor the throttle to elicit much response.
In theory, it’s great that Mazda uses the paddle shifters typically used for the automatic transmission for adjusting the amount of regenerative braking effort. But Mazda’s implementation is counter-intuitive; to add more, you select the minus button, to lessen the energy capture during braking, you select the plus button.
With stop and go driving, you can eke out extra miles. On an 11-mile trip, I was used only four miles of range by employing hypermiling driving techniques. If you typically do a lot of stop and go driving, you might be able to extract a few more miles on each charge as a result. If you do mostly high-speed driving, you’ll find the range to be fairly accurate, mile for mile.
While the suspension is far from exotic — it uses MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in back — it provides good bump absorption and delivers a well-controlled ride. Steering is quick enough for the task at hand, being nicely weighted, but lacking in feel. The cabin remains quiet at low speeds, with road and tire noise proving intrusive at higher speeds.
2022 Mazda MX-30 specifications:
|173.3 inches/W: 70.7 inches/H: 61.5 inches/Wheelbase: 104.4 inches
|80.9 kW AC electric motor, 1-speed transmission and front-wheel drive
|98 mpg-e city/85 mpg-e highway
|143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque
|Base prices: $36,480; As tested: $37,665 including $1,175 destination and delivery charge
|Now, in California only
There’s little doubt Mazda will find a few buyers willing to take the plunge for an MX-30, but it will still be a hard sell given its meager range. Almost every other EV offers more mileage from a single charge. Its aesthetics are sophisticated and easy to appreciate, but the vehicle’s utility is hampered by the negligible back seat space. And while it’s fun to drive, that may not be enough to entice buyers until a plug-in hybrid is available in 2023.
2022 Mazda MX-30 — Frequently Asked Questions
What will the MX-30 cost?
Pricing begins at $34,695, including destination charge.
What is the range of the MX-30 electric?
It is 100 miles.
What electric car has the greatest range?
The Lucid Air, which has been EPA certified for 520 miles on a single charge.