2022 Mazda MX-30 review by Ben Lewis

Ok, Mazda will be the first to admit, but they are late to the EV party. But as a small, independent automaker, we can see that there are only so much development dollars to go around. That said, while the MX-30 EV is their first product, there will be more hybrid/EV type vehicles coming.

So how does Mazda’s first crack at an EV come out? Let’s see!

Sporty Styling

The first look is exciting.

While it’s based on the CX-30 that we love, the look differently goes its own way. The MX-30 continues with the “Kodo” design philosophy, plus adds a new “Human Modern” concept that combines futuristic design with a familiar feel.

Up front the grille is much smaller – you don’t need as much air for an EV as a gas engine – while signature round LED headlights with LED daytime running lights give off an aggressive vibe.

The profile is interesting. While it has a tall-coupe like look, it’s actually a 4-door, but the rear doors are hidden and can only swing out suicide-style once you open the front doors. Reminds us of the much-loved RX-8 sports car. While that does have the sporty look, you get some ruggedness thrown in with black over fenders and lower cladding, while a cool silver roof and a metallic trim piece that calls out MX-30. Finishing off the look, modern-looking 18-inch alloy wheels give a sporty stance.

The rear sees that two-one effect from the silver roof wrapping around, while “afterburner” style rear LED lights echo the headlights. A black lower fascia continues the tough and capable look.

Wide Open Interior

Well, this is a treat. Open the front doors and then swing out the rear doors (Mazda calls them “Freestyle”) and you have a big opening with no B-pillar to get in the way. This helps a smallish interior look much larger than it is.

The next surprise is the design strikes us like a Volvo! Yes, there is this minimalist, yet stylish look that is very unique.

There’s a super tasteful two-tone interior featuring white leatherette and a gray fabric accented by orange stitching that would look right at home in an IKEA store. There’s also an eye-catching use of cork. Mazda says, it’s not only one of the most highly renewable and eco-friendly resources, but also pays homage to Mazda’s origin as a cork manufacturing company more than 100 years ago. Very cool!

There’s great design along with the interesting materials. A floating center console serves up the shifter and info-tainment controls right where your hand falls.  A new 7-inch touchscreen displays the climate control system, with buttons on the side that give you easy control.

We really love the gauge design, which makes it look like a conventional vehicle. The power gauge for the EV is on the left, and swings around like a tachometer, the large center speedo is crisp and clear, and EV charge level is served up as a fuel gauge. You could have never driven an EV before, pop right in and drive off. It’s that intuitive.

The interior sounds as good as it looks with a terrific-sounding 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, while info-tainment includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. It’s not wireless like some, but the USB plug in is tucked away in the storage area below the floating center console, so it’s an easy hook up and stays tucked out of the way.

We like the front seats that feel like well-bolstered sport seats that would be comfortable for the long haul. Very Volvo-ish. The rear seats are not bad, considering this is really a small coupe-like design, and those “freestyle” doors actually make it a little awkward to get back there. Adults will be comfortable for shorter trips, though.

About those shorter trips…

So, this is the one real bone of contention with the MX-30 – the range. We recently tested the Hyundai Kona EV, and it served up an estimated 258 miles on a full charge, and that’s plenty. The MX-30 comes in at 100 miles. Gulp.

The good news is that the 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged to 80% in about 36 minutes using DC fast charging. Perfect for a lunch break or a workout.

You can make a good argument that with a small commute, or the fact that many people work from home than before, a 100-mile range is all you need. But we know a lot of people who have range anxiety, and that smallish range may be too close for comfort.

Which would be too bad for them, because the rest of the driving experience is delightful. Powering the MX-30 is a single motor making 143 horsepower, and 200 lb.-ft of torque.

Like the Kona Electric, that torque comes on almost instantaneously and that makes the MX quick of the line with a very pleasant push in the back. Mazda also pumps in an “power” sound that adds to the sporty impression. We found that freeway speeds were easy to reach, and the little Mazda is extremely quiet at cruise. OK, so the top speed is only a hair over 90 mph. We don’t think many of the buyers are planning to go that fast.

The MX-30 is not nearly as quick as the ultra-strong Kona Electric, but we can’t say it feels underpowered – like the Miata sports car, Mazda makes this a superbly balanced machine that is so enjoyable to drive. The ride is supple and controlled, the handling is responsive, and the steering gives great feel. You look forward to the drive. It’s that Mazda magic of delivering European performance without the big price sticker.

So, What about the price sticker?

With EV’s being notoriously expensive before you add in the government rebates, the Mazda is a pleasant surprise. There are two trims with the base MX-30 EV starting at just $33,470. We’d pop for all the extra goodies in the Premium Plus, which comes in at a still reasonable $36,480. Add in $995 for the Soul Red Metallic, and destination, and we rang the bell at $38,700.

But let’s not forget there’s a $7500 federal tax credit, and here in California – the only place you can currently buy the MX-30 – it can qualify for up to $3,500 more in rebates. That would bring our tester down to under $27,000. That’s cheaper than you can buy a new Miata for!

Competition would include the 2023 Mini Electric, starting at $34,225. With a range of 110 miles, its stats are similar, but you are talking a much smaller vehicle. Stylish and fun, though.

The Kona Electric comes in at $43,745 before rebates. You get more, but you pay for it. If you want an EV, but don’t need the sportiness, the Nissan LEAF S at $33,425 is an excellent choice. If the range is not a hot-button issue for you, we’d go for the Mazda, though.

Also, a note – plan to see more Mazda Hybrid type vehicles in the future as well. They’re just gearing up as we speak.

We love the new 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV. Great looks, a stand-out interior and wonderful Mazda driving dynamics. For the first time at bat with an EV, it’s a home run!