October 18, 2021

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Mazda MX-30 Electric Car Sports Just 100 Miles of Range

  • Mazda finally enters the EV market with the MX-30, sporting just 100 miles of range from a 35.5-kWh battery.
  • If you occasionally need to go farther, Mazda will loan you your choice of gasoline-powered Mazdas up to 10 days a year for free, along with providing $500 for charging or for installing a charging port at your house.
  • Mazda will be making just 560 examples the first year, and the MX-30 will only be sold in California to start.

    After almost every other manufacturer on Earth has had electric vehicles on sale for years, Mazda shows up with a smallish crossover called the MX-30 with a spec sheet that falls short in almost every way it could fall short.

    To determine whether you think the MX-30 is a “good” electric car, however, you have to consider how you want to look at it. Compared to everything else on the market, it has: less range, less room, less availability, and maybe even slightly blander styling. That’s only if you compare it to everything else on the market.

    If you look at what you really need in a car, the MX-30 could be just right.

    Handy doors are a joy to use.

    Mazda

    For instance, how often do you really need to drive to Las Vegas, Chicago, or Buffalo? Or anywhere outside of your relatively short commute to work? Depending on how far you have to drive to get to work, the MX-30’s 100-mile range is way more than enough for almost all drivers except maybe traveling salespeople: 16 miles is the average American commute according to ABC News; 27.6 miles according to the US Census Bureau; or between five and nine miles according to streetlightdata.com. For any of those, 100 miles range is more than enough.

    That range comes from a 35.5-kWh battery, which is no Lucid Air megastructure, granted, but you don’t need Lucid’s 520-mile range unless you’re writing a car review about range. And even if you do need to go farther occasionally, Mazda will loan you your choice of gasoline-powered internal combustion Mazdas up to 10 days a year for free, along with providing $500 for charging or for installing a charging port at your house.

    I myself own a Mitsubishi iMiEV with a paltry 16-kWh battery that had 62 miles of EPA range when new, and I find it meets about 90 percent of my driving needs. So this MX-30 would be paradise. At least for me. Write down how many miles you actually drive in a typical day—you may be surprised. And you may line up for your own MX-30.

    But you may have to move, because the MX-30 is only on sale in California and Mazda will only be making 560 of them available for sale in the first year. After that there will be “more,” but we don’t know how many more. We do know that an MX-30 plug-in hybrid will be coming “at some point.”

    What’s it like to drive? They let me take it on a 61-mile loop around Mazda’s US headquarters in Orange County, California. I drove it conservatively on mostly city and suburban streets, with a short stretch of freeway. I started with 103 miles indicated range based on whoever had it before me. When I finished the 61 miles there was an indicated 53 miles range remaining, meaning I got 114 miles of potential range out of my drive, had I continued to empty.

    The MX-30 is tightly sprung, with a firm ride meant to make it “feel like a Mazda,” i.e. sporty. This I would say it largely accomplished, and compared to other crossovers of the same size it may be the sportiest. But only compared to them. This is not a Mazda3 Turbo. Zero to 60 mph comes up in 9 seconds or so from the 143-hp (107-kW) electric motor driving the front wheels. The smaller-than-average battery means the MX-30 suffers only a 300-pound weight penalty compared to the very similar CX-30 gasoline version of this vehicle. For comparison’s sake, the also-electric Mini Cooper SE gets to 60 in 6.9 seconds and the iconic Nissan Leaf takes 7.4.

    The battery stows neatly and flat under the floor of the MX-30. It weighs just 300 pounds.

    Mazda

    Nonetheless, the MX-30 is overall a fairly comfortable conveyance, with plenty of room in the two front seats and enough room in the back that I was able to fold my six-foot-plus frame into the rear seat without my Conway Twitty pompadour scraping the roof. Rear ingress is done via a cool rear-hinged half-a-door, like the Hyundai Veloster or the old Saturn Ion. I applaud such cleverness.

    Pricing is also more or less competitive: $34,645 including destination. That’s before you subtract the $7500 Federal tax credit and $2500 Calif. state tax credit, since this is only sold in California for now. The Leaf goes 50 percent farther in base trim and costs almost 20% less, at $28,375; the Kia Niro goes more than twice as far but starts at $41,165; the Mini Cooper SE is $30,750 with just slightly better range and comparable handling; and the list goes up from there.

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