Tip-Toeing into the EV market
If you are the type of conscientious person who never forgets to plug-in your phone every night, and you don’t wander far from home every day, then the 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV may work for you. Mazda says the MX-30’s 100-mile electric driving range is an “ideal companion for daily commuting (and will) meet the needs of most urban residents.” Does this fit your driving pattern and lifestyle? If so, there may be a match. Debuting in mid-2021 as a 2022 model, the compact MX-30 EV will initially be sold in California in limited numbers–a total run of 560 units.
This may be the best-looking crossover to come from Mazda, which is saying a lot as Mazda is respected for having the sharpest looking crossovers and SUVs on the road. Freed from the requirement to have a gaping, wide mouth grille, Mazda designers must have giggled with glee. Is that something designers do? Who knows, but the result, regardless of joyful noises coming from the design team, is a winner.
The 2022 MX-30 has Mazda’s E-Skyactiv EV propulsion system, consisting of an 80.9 kilowatt (kW) electric motor powering the front wheels and producing 143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Over 139 miles we averaged 3.5kW per mile, which is competitive with other EVs we have driven.
The 35.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is rated with these charging times to go from zero to 80-percent charge:
- 120V Level 1 (common household outlet): 13.4 hours
- 240V Level 2: 2.5 hours
- DC Fast Charging: 36 minutes
Mazda has partnered with ChargePoint to give new MX-30 owners a $500 charging credit. This can be used at any ChargePoint public charging station, or applied towards the purchase of a ChargePoint in-home Level 2 charger. To sweeten the pot, Mazda has a program where MX-30 buyers can use a gasoline-powered Mazda for up to 10 days a year for each of the first three years of ownership. This gives owners flexibility to take longer trips, greatly surpassing the 100-mile range of the MX-30.
In our charging session at a ChargePoint station, we went from 17% to 50% in 24 minutes, then 50% to 82% in 35 minutes, for a total of just short of an hour for less than a full charge.
Regenerative braking, with steering wheel-mounted paddles to control the amount of brake regeneration, replenishes the battery by converting kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting. Driving around town, stuck in stop-and-go rush hour freeway traffic, or coasting down hills will recharge the battery. The battery charge and mileage range are metered in realtime by a dash gauge.
Hitting the Road
The MX-30 is fun to drive, which should come as no surprise if you have ever driven a Mazda. Top-to-bottom its line-up includes the best-handling cars and crossovers that aren’t marketed as sports models. The front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is not available) MX-30 has agile and nimble handling, dynamic stability, traction control and active electric G-Vectoring. The latter uses the electric motor to adjust torque, providing consistent handling with increased steering response, and applying a bit of the brakes to ease cornering.
Battery placement below the seats lowers the center of gravity, and the Falken Ziex 215/55 all-season tires, mounted on 18-inch bright-finished alloy wheels, were up to the task of holding tight on corners. Weighing in at 3,655 pounds, a lower weight than other compact crossover EVs because the battery is so small, the MX-30 features spry handling and good driving dynamics.
Performance numbers of 0-60 in just under 9.0 seconds are adequate for highway merging, but aren’t at the level of what competitive all-electric crossovers can do. The MX-30 with only one electric motor powering the front wheels can’t match the quickness of the Volkswagen ID4 AWD (5.5 seconds) and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (5.0 seconds) that have two electric motors driving all four wheels. At cruising speeds we also noticed that off-the-line power isn’t there to pass slower cars, which we can only guess is due to the motor’s size.
As noted earlier, the Mazda MX-30 is a departure from Mazda’s recent crossover designs. Without the need for a radiator to cool a gasoline engine, the slim grille is a refreshing change. The long hood could be hiding a front trunk or “frunk,” which is found in most other EV crossovers. Not in this case, as beginning in 2023 the MX-30 will be offered as a hybrid and then a plug-in hybrid, possibly with a small range extender gasoline engine. Range extenders have been done previously with the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3, and could add another 100 miles of driving range. The gasoline engine will fill the space under the hood.
The hood, framed by narrow LED head and daytime running lights, leads to a laid-back windshield, then to a gently sloping roof with a small shark fin antenna and an integrated spoiler over the raked window on the liftgate. The LED tail lights are a nice combination of round and horizontal designs. Look for the subtle “ELECTRIC” on the rear side windows.
One of the most noticeable design features are the doors. The front doors open a whopping 90º, providing for very easy access. Then there are the rear doors, which hinge at the rear and are what Mazda calls “freestyle doors.” Use your imagination why in early days they were morbidly called “suicide doors.” We will look at their functionality when discussing the interior, but what this design has going for it from the exterior, is that, without rear door handles, the smooth body sides are interrupted only by the front door handles. A few higher-end cars are going to recessed door handles that create even a sleeker look.
There are four exterior colors of Machine Gray Metallic, Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Ceramic Metallic, and Polymetal Gray Metallic, which was on the MX-30 we tested. The last three colors are multi-tone, with three different shades found on the roof, trim piece running along the roof, and the body. It looked unique and classy.
Clean, Simple and Recycled Interior
The 2022 Mazda MX-30 Clean Fleet Report tested came with the Premium Plus Package that added driver safety features and an up-market sound system. The two-toned interior of Black and Vintage Brown featured leatherette-edged with cloth inserts on the seats. The cloth is made from 20% recycled threads, the door trim is made from recycled PET plastic bottles, and there are cork grips and surfaces. Cork was included as it is a sustainable material, and harkens back to more than 100 years ago when Mazda began as a cork manufacturer.
The black and brown color scheme with aluminum accents on our MX-30 was pleasing to the eye. The cloth seats are sturdy and supportive, with the driver getting heat and power adjustments, while the passenger gets heat and manual adjustments. The heated, leather covered steering wheel had cruise, Bluetooth voice and audio controls, and has tilt and telescoping adjustments. Mazda has elected to pipe-in artificial sound to compensate for the silent electric motor. This is the antithesis of why people enjoy owning an EV: no engine noise. It was mildly annoying and could not be turned-off.
The rear seat is rated to hold three adults, but they had better be small of stature. Leg room can generously be called tight. With the sloping roofline, taller passengers will be butting their heads on the headliner. When in the back seat, side visibility is limited as there aren’t full-size windows in the doors, which is not good for anyone with claustrophobia.
Access to the rear seat is through the freestyle doors, which really don’t work too well for a few reasons. Front passengers will need to get out of the car to provide access to the rear seat, unlike conventionally sprung doors. Without a B pillar, the front seat belts are connected to the front doors, which means when opening them the belt stretches across the front passenger’s throats. Lastly, the rear passengers have no ability to open the doors as there are no interior handles.
Gauges and Entertainment
The low profile dash has a simple, clean and logical layout. Three round gauges in the 7-inch display, were easy to read with black faces and white letters, and the easy-to-use digital, 7-inch automatic HVAC touchscreen was conveniently placed above the center console.
The 8.8-inch horizontal color display, that is not a touchscreen, sleekly appears from the dash and is home to the Bose premium audio system. With 12 speakers, the sound quality is excellent for the AM/FM/MP3/HD radio, SiriusXM, with Pandora, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Mazda Connect connectivity system includes navigation and Bluetooth. The head-up display was a pleasant surprise, and a safety feature Clean Fleet Report believes should be standard on all cars.
To manage the radio, Mazda has a wheel on the center console for changing channels, and a smaller one for volume control. Both had a short learning curve, but the system required multiple steps to control a single function, diverting the driver’s eyes from the road. Without wireless phone charging or wireless streaming, the center console area could get busy at times.
Convenience comes your way with remote keyless door locks, push button start/stop, power windows with one-touch up and down, power sliding glass moonroof, rearview camera, carpeted floor mats, auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink, rain-sensing windshield wipers, folding power and heated side mirrors with turn indicators, an electronic parking brake and brake hold.
The 2022 Mazda MX-30 comes with an extensive list of standard and optional safety features, including front and side airbags, adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert. Additional safety features include an anti-theft engine immobilizer, hill launch assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, and rear child seat anchors and tethers. Stopping came from 17-inch ventilated disc brakes, with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Neither the federal government or the IIHS have crash-tested the MX-30.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV comes in two trim levels. The base has a MSRP of $34,645 including the mandatory $1,175 delivery, processing and handling fee. Clean Fleet Report’s 2022 MX-30 EV with the Premium Plus Package had a base price of $37,655. With $895 for the Polymetal Gray 3-tone paint and the $1,175 delivery fee, the MSRP came to $38,550.
The 2022 MX-30 EV comes with these warranties:
- Battery – Eight years/100,000 miles
- Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
- Bumper-To-Bumper – Three years/36,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
Observations: 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV
When Mazda began selling the all-electric MX-30 compact crossover in 2021, it marked a significant turn in its gasoline-only propulsion philosophy. The number of car companies offering EV models will expand dramatically in the next two years. Combine this with a few companies that sell only electric vehicles, and the electric choices for consumers are getting stronger and more interesting all the time.
The 2022 Mazda MX-30 is a curious first model as it has limitations of rear passenger space, a small battery and short driving range. What it has going for it is great styling, ample cargo space with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat, a comfortable and spirited driving experience and, with the Federal and California tax credits/incentives, a starting price under $25,000. Remember, the MX-30 is only sold in California in 2022, though a national roll-out is planned for 2023.
Who is Mazda targeting to buy the MX-30? With most people driving less than 75 miles daily, the 100-mile driving range of the MX-30 should be just fine. But this means the MX-30 needs to be plugged-in at every opportunity, and it also means most buyers will not live in a condo or apartment unless Level 2 charging is an option. Needing to stop daily at a charging station will get old real, real fast.
With only 560 MX-30s being sold in California in 2022, Mazda will learn quickly if offering an entry-level electric crossover with a low driving range will resonate with buyers. Electric vehicles are regularly marketed by touting their sub-4 second 0-60 times, and out doing each other with longer and longer driving ranges. The current leader in the latter category is the Lucid Air, which is rated with a base all-electric driving range of 420 miles (and more than 500 miles on one model). Impressive, sure, but you will need to pay a minimum of $95,000 to be able to drive that distance without plugging-in.
Clean Fleet Report is all-in with Mazda joining the electric club, and are eagerly anticipating the next models they will release in the upcoming years. The MX-30 is only a first step for them, with bigger and better things to come. So if you live in California and don’t need to drive more than 100 miles before having access to a charger, go into a Mazda dealer and check-out the 2022 MX-30 EV to see if it fits your lifestyle.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Mazda.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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