It also may be the most luxury you can get for the money. Seriously.
Mazda has been late to the EV game, but for good reason: The company wanted to get it right when they did. Well, they’re here now and, yes, there’s a lot right with the newest in the Mazda lineup, the Mazda MX-30. It starts with the Mazda ‘Zoom-zoom’ drive experience but doesn’t stop there; this petite EV crossover is simply loaded with luxury and style. Add in tax incentives and it could have a final price of just $24,000. A stunningly low price for a lushly appointed, modernly stylish, tech filled crossover.
Just introduced in the US, it was rolled out in other global markets last year and was a finalist for the World Design Car of the Year for 2021. This small electric crossover, based on the frame of the Mazda CX-30, has seating for 5 but really, is best for one or two. It also has a small battery range, a small environmental footprint and a small price tag. However, it’s big on design, luxury and fun, making this a great crossover for commuting and tooling around town.
First, the EV Details
If you hear skeptics talk critically about the Mazda MX-30, it’ll be this: It has an electric driving range of 100 miles on a full charge. With some intentional driving and using the regenerative braking system at its max, you might improve your range by 5%-10% (that’s about what I experienced), though masterful EV drivers could do better. Still, that’s on the low side for EVs these days; many have a range of double or triple that number.
While Mazda could have added more battery capacity, there are a few reasons for pegging the range at such a low number: this allowed Mazda’s engineers to use a smaller, lighter weight battery pack and therefore preserve the sporty Mazda drive experience; the smaller battery keeps the price down; the company’s research shows that most drivers don’t need the longer range; and, the MX-30 will be sold in countries where a 100 mile range is just fine.
As for US drivers, consider this: Most people drive about 12,000 miles a year, or 1,000 miles a month. That translates into just 40 miles per day if you drive 6 days a week.
Also consider that if owners plug in at home rather than a public charging station, they’ll easily recoup a full charge every day: it takes 14 hours to fully charge with a standard household outlet; just under 3 hours to fully charge with a level 2 charger and 36 minutes to charge at a DC fast charge station. So, the larger battery pack may give owners more confidence, but will they really need it? Mazda thinks that, for now at least, there’s a market of drivers for whom this car makes sense.
And, the company plans to introduce 3 more EVs, 5 plug-in hybrids and 5 hybrids in the next three years. So while yes, the MX-30 appeals to a particular buyer, it’s just the start of this new era for Mazda.
This Car Had Me at Luxury
Oh my, this car is nice—even at the standard model level, which has a starting price of $33,470. The Premium package adds a few more luxe details and takes the price up to $36,480. Paint color is extra, ranging from $495 to $995 for Soul Red Metallic, Mazda’s signature color. But honestly, the base model is just lovely and the pure delight of getting all these features for $24K with the tax credits factored in is almost too good to pass up.
Here are some of the features in the base model:
- Leatherette trimmed and woven upholstery with heated front seats
- Cork and brushed metal interior details
- Head up display
- Keyless entry
- Rain sensing wipers
- 2 USB ports and a household outlet (under the floating console)
- 8.8” media screen with dial controller
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Moon roof
- Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert,
- Parking sensors
- 18” wheels
The Premium Plus package adds:
- Blind spot assist, which beeps and lightly brakes when someone or something is in your blind spot
- Front cross traffic alert
- Surround view camera with dynamic lines
- Cargo light
- Advanced keyless entry
- Premium Bose sounds system with 12 speakers
You can add a few more options like navigation, wireless charging, a cargo cover and roof rail cross bars, but none of the options struck me as a glaring oversight. If you add navigation, you’ll see turn by turn directions in the head up display, as well as road sign displays, but with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, navigation displays on the media screen. And, there’s a portable power bank option (available from dealers) that is enough to jump start the car; this may be a good idea with the 100 mile battery range.
Driven By Design For a Fresh, Modern Look and Feel
On first glance the MX-30 stands out from the rest of the Mazda lineup; its front grille is slimmer and the front end has softer, rounder lines; the roof is dark rather than body-colored, and it has a more coupe-like shape than the typical Mazda. And, it features coach doors, which Mazda calls “Freestyle;” these open outward from the center of the car; there is no center pillar between the seats and this creates better access to the rear seat. These doors offer an easy way for your dog to get in and out, to load large items into the cargo area or simply, for rear seat passengers to get in and out.
From there, some distinct details include the truly beautiful white leatherette and gray woven seating with pumpkin-colored trim (there’s also a dark charcoal and espresso interior) that has a chic, elegant look. It reminded me of the designer Kenzo’s use of texture and color to create a modern aesthetic.
On first blush, some buyers and critics may see similarities between the MX-30 and the BMW i3, a similar sized, coach-door clad, futuristic EV. I certainly got that feeling, too, though the BMW is much more of a departure from the overall aesthetic of its siblings. The MX-30 feels more like the future of the brand, combining familiar details and design while evolving and innovating others.
A Floating Console Surrounded by Cork Is the Star of this Interior
As you get into the MX-30 your eyes are drawn to the centerpiece: the command center. It features a floating console with a cork surround; cork also lines the tray underneath the center console and the back of the door handles. The cork detail is truly a gem; it adds a light pop of color and compliments the pumpkin trim on the seats. And, the cork makes it easy to see any items in the lower tray; often these spaces are a black hole and impossible to see into.
Cork also lines the tops of the cup holder covers; these flip up to reveal two cup holders, or fold down to keep the elegant look.
The center console features an angled glass panel with climate controls, the media system dial controller and the gear selector, a small squarish lever that easily fits in the palm of your hand. Gear selectors this size and shape are a welcome trend; I liked that Mazda included it in the MX-30.
A Smaller Environmental Foot Print, Inside and Out
The beauty of the interior details are made all the better by the knowledge that Mazda sourced recycled products to produce them. The door panels are made from recycled plastic bottles and the cloth upholstery is made from recycled fabrics.
And of course, the cork that lines the center console is a very sustainable product; cork trees regrow their bark in 8 to10 years. But the cork isn’t simply a sustainable and stylish detail; it’s a nod to Mazda’s heritage. Before the company began building cars, it was a cork producer more than 100 years ago.
Add to this the lack of tailpipe emissions and all electric function (and yes, were can debate the sustainability of electricity sources, but let’s just assume for the moment that grid-sourced energy is more sustainable than unleaded gas) and the Mazda MX-30 is a feel good driving option.
What’s It Like to Drive?
I’ll start with this: I love driving EVs. They are effortless and liberating. They send instant power to the wheels the split second you tap the accelerator. They speed up quickly, and when you ease your foot off the accelerator, they slow. Pull the left paddle shifter and the Mazda MX-30 slows even more quickly by using regenerative braking (and, the system adds unused energy back to the battery, extending your range). You can set it for mild regeneration or stronger regeneration. Leave it in D mode for a drive experience that is more like a typical car— not slowing too quickly and creeping forward at low speeds when you ease off the brake.
Mazda’s team worked on the drive experience to also ensure that when you slow the car the feeling isn’t jerky or weighty; they call it human centered design, which also adds to the fun of the drive experience. I found the MX-30 had much of the zoom-zoom we expect from Mazda, plus the liberating, weightlessness of EV driving.
One caveat I noticed was that even when I had the system set in max regeneration mode, it defaulted back to regular D mode after a while. If you want to drive all the time in D mode, you’ll get used to pulling that left paddle shifter.
A Couple of Perks, and One Drawback
Realizing that many buyers will occasionally need a car that can drive further than 100 miles at a time, the company is offering MX-30 buyers the option of up to Mazda loaner vehicle for 10 days a year. Which could actually be really great, even if the other car in your driveway is a gas-powered SUV; you can drop by your Mazda dealer and pick up a CX-9 for that trip to Disneyland.
Mazda also partnered with ChargePoint to gift every buyer with a $500 credit toward charging at local charge stations or a home charger. Either way, it’s nice to have an incentive to get you started on your EV journey.
If all this sounds really good; it is. The drawback is that the MX-30 is only be introduced in California (for now) and there will only be about 500 for sale. However, with the aggressive plan for EVs that Mazda will roll out over the next few years, this is a great start. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Disclosure: I was Mazda’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.