Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Mazda MX-30 Electric 2022 review

Despite being SUV-based, the MX-30's design and packaging has drawn inspiration from the BMW i3.
EXPERT RATING
7.6
The Mazda MX-30 E35 Astina is a quirky, comfortable, luxurious and dynamic SUV, but suffers in Australia for a lack of competitive range, non-subsidised high pricing and poor rear-seat packaging. Yet its real-world 200km between top-ups is sufficient for most, and you get to enjoy striking design, an opulent interior and lots of standard features, making this a flawed yet compelling premium EV.

Mazda has a magnificent history with engines and motors.

In the 1960s, it pioneered the rotary with the R100; in the ‘80s the 626 was one of the first affordable family cars with a diesel engine; the ‘90s there was the Miller Cycle engine in the Eunos 800 (remember that) while lately we’re still trying to get our ahead around the compression-ignition supercharged petrol tech known as SkyActiv-X.

Now we have the MX-30 Electric – the Hiroshima brand’s first electric vehicle (EV) – but why has it taken so long for it to jump on the EV bandwagon? Given Mazda’s history of being pioneering with engines and motors and so on, that’s a bit of a surprise.

More of shock, however, are the newcomer’s pricing and range, meaning that the MX-30 Electric situation is complicated…

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

On the face of it… no.

Only a single MX-30 Electric grade is available for now, the E35 Astina, and it kicks off – wait for it –from $65,490 plus on-road costs. That’s nearly $25,000 more than the visually identical MX-30 G25 M Mild Hybrid petrol-powered version with virtually the same equipment levels.

We’ll go into why a little later on, but you need to know that the MX-30 Electric has one of the smallest lithium-ion battery packs available in any EV today, with a capacity of just 35.5kWh. This means just 224km of range before recharging is required.

It seems almost like self-sabotage on Mazda’s behalf, when the 2021 Hyundai Kona EV Elite starts from $62,000, boasts a 64kWh battery and offers an official range of 484km. Other big-battery alternatives around that price point include the world’s best-ever selling EV, the Tesla Model 3, Kia Niro EV and Nissan Leaf e+.

Only a single MX-30 Electric grade is available for now, the E35 Astina. Only a single MX-30 Electric grade is available for now, the E35 Astina.

But it isn’t game over for MX-30 Electric because Mazda hopes you buy into this car’s unique philosophy of offering a so-called ‘right sized’ approach to EV motoring. It basically encompasses well-to-wheel sustainability in terms of battery size, the resources used for production and total energy consumption over the car’s lifespan… or, in other words, the EV’s impact on natural resources. If you’re going green, such factors are probably of significant value to you…

Then there’s how the MX-30 Electric is used. Aimed primarily at Europe, where distances are shorter, charging stations more plentiful, government support stronger and EV user incentives better than in Australia, the Mazda’s range makes sense over there. Yet even over here, most of the urban consumers that this car is aimed at can commute many days without exceeding 200km, while solar energy helps make electricity cheaper for those with panels facing our hot sun.

Thus, the company can only call this a ‘metro’ EV – though obviously Mazda doesn't have a choice otherwise, does it?

At least the E35 Astina isn’t found wanting when it comes to equipment levels compared to rival SUV EVs.

Among the usual array of luxury, functionality and multimedia features, you’ll find adaptive cruise control with full stop/go functionality, glossy 18-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree view monitor, an electric sunroof, heated and powered front seats, a heated steering wheel and a leather-like synthetic upholstery dubbed “Vintage Brown Maztex”. Owners of '80s 929s rejoice!

No competing EV this side of the ageing BMW i3 offers such unique design and packaging. No competing EV this side of the ageing BMW i3 offers such unique design and packaging.

Fans of 2020s cars will appreciate an 8.8-inch widescreen colour display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, a Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers, digital radio, satellite navigation and even a 220V domestic plug outlet (perhaps for a hair dryer?), while an elegant head-up display for speed and GPS info is reflected on the windscreen.

Throw in a full suite of driver-assist safety kit for a five-star crash-test rating – see more below – and the MX-30 E35 almost includes everything.

What’s missing? How about a wireless smartphone charger and no electric tailgate (motion sensor activated or otherwise)? The climate control is single-zone only. And there’s no spare tyre – just a puncture repair kit.

Still, no competing EV this side of the ageing BMW i3 offers such unique design and packaging.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

It’s difficult to find anything boring about how this vehicle appears.

The MX-30’s design is divisive. Many people love the coupe-like SUV silhouette, forward-opening rear-hinged back doors (dubbed Freestyle in Mazda-speak) and sleeker take on the company’s five-point grille.

It’s difficult to find anything boring about how this vehicle appears. It’s difficult to find anything boring about how this vehicle appears.

The doors are meant to recall the RX-8 sports car of the 2000s, while Mazda’s history with luxurious two-door coupes is illustrious, thanks to classics like the Cosmo and Luce; you might even connect the MX-30 with its dyslexic namesake, the MX-3/Eunos 30X of the 1990s. Another interesting engined Mazda – that one had a 1.8L V6.

However, some critics liken the styling’s overall effect as oddball, with elements of the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Pontiac Aztec coming through. These are not elegant alignments. For prettiness, you’re far safer with the CX-30.

Both the exterior and interior exude a quality, upmarket look and feel. Both the exterior and interior exude a quality, upmarket look and feel.

It’s probably safe to surmise that the BMW i3 heavily inspired the MX-30’s design and presentation inside and out. The decision to go crossover/SUV rather than small car like the Germans probably makes good horse sense too, given the unrelenting popularity of the former and dwindling fortunes of the latter.

Wherever you stand on the car’s appearance, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that both the exterior and interior exude a quality, upmarket look and feel. Knowing Mazda’s aspirations for going upmarket, the MX-30 could be regarded as an aesthetic triumph (but not of the TR7 variety).

How practical is the space inside?   5/10

Not very.

The platform is shared with the CX-30, so the MX-30 is a small-car crossover with a shorter length and wheelbase than even the Mazda3 hatch. The upshot is a limited amount of room inside. In fact, you could call Mazda's first EV a tale of two cars.

From a front-seat point of view, it’s typical Mazda in its design and layout, but it progresses what the brand has done over recent years, with a palpable up-step in quality and detailing. Top marks for the look and execution of the trim and materials, imbuing the vehicle with an upmarket feel.

Up front, you’re greeted by plenty of room, even for taller people. They can stretch out, on comfortable and enveloping front seats offering a wide range of support. The layered lower centre console – even with its floating-like design – offers up a sense of space as well as style.

The MX-30’s driving position is first class, with an excellent relationship between the steering wheel, instrumentation sight lines, switchgear/controls access and pedals reach. It’s all very typical, modern Mazda, with an emphasis on quality and usability for the most part. Ventilation is ample, storage is adequate and there isn’t much that’s strange or intimidating in here – and this is not always the case with EVs.

From a front-seat point of view, it’s typical Mazda in its design and layout. From a front-seat point of view, it’s typical Mazda in its design and layout.

Mazda3/CX-30 owners will recognise the company’s latest multimedia system, which relies on the (claimed) ergonomically-designed rotary controller and high-set non-touchscreen display that helps keep eyes on the road; and the elegant instrumentation and standard head-up display are beautifully presented – it’s all very on-brand. From a historical point of view, so are the cork-like finishes, which hark back to the company’s distant past.

So far, so good, then.

However, we’re not completely sold on the new electronic touch-display climate control system, what looks upmarket but takes up a lot of dash real estate, isn’t as intuitive as physical buttons and forces the driver to take eyes off the road to see where they’re fumbling around down in the lower recesses of the centre console. Here’s where the march of progress meets the call of fashion, we suppose.

More annoying is the new electronic shifter – a thick yet stubby T-bar item that requires a hefty sideways shove to slot it from Reverse across to Park. It doesn’t always go in first time, and not being a logical movement, it’s too easy to think you’ve selected Park but actually have left it in Reverse, since both live on the same horizontal plane. That could lead to trouble so it's a good thing rear cross-traffic alert is standard. A rethink is required here. 

Just as worrying is the MX-30’s dreadful side and rear vision, and not just from the driver’s point of view. The pillars are way too wide, creating major blind spots, backed up by the shallow rear window, sloping roofline and rear-hinged back doors, which put pillars where you might not expect them to be from a peripheral vision perspective.

We’re not completely sold on the new electronic touch-display climate control system. We’re not completely sold on the new electronic touch-display climate control system.

Which leads us to the back half of the Mazda EV.

Those Freestyle doors make entry and egress delightfully theatrical as the fixed centre (or ‘B’) pillar is eliminated, though Mazda says when shut the doors provide ample structural strength. Anyway, the resulting yawning gap when fully opened – along with the taller body – means most people can simply step through into the rear seats like they're leaving Studio 54 for the next shindig.

Note, however, that not only can you not open the rear doors without first opening the fronts (fiddly on the outside and a real stretch trying from the inside), but if you close the fronts first, there’s a risk of damaging their door skins when the rears bash into them when shutting. Oops.

Remember how the front area is spacious? The back seat is tight. There’s no getting away from that. There isn’t that much knee room – although you can push the driver’s seat forward with handy electric buttons behind the driver’s backrest, but even then, it means you still have to compromise with the occupants ahead.

It’s all nicely finished, with interesting colours and textures. It’s all nicely finished, with interesting colours and textures.

And even though you’ll find a centre armrest with cupholders, as well as overhead grab handles and coat hooks, there’s no lighting back, directional air vents or USB outlets.

At least it’s all nicely finished, with interesting colours and textures, briefly distracting you from how cramped and hemmed-in the MX-30 is for an SUV. And you're peering out of porthole windows, which may make it all seem a little bit claustrophobic for some.

It's not uncomfortable, though; the backrest and cushion both accommodating enough, with sufficient head, knee and leg clearance for occupants up to 180cm, while three smaller passengers can squeeze in without too much discomfort. But if you’re using the MX-30 as a family car, it’s best to take your regular rear-seat travellers along for the test drive before deciding.

The Mazda’s cargo capacity is meagre, being wide but shallow, with just 311 litres to exploit; as per almost every SUV on the planet, the rear seat-backs split and fold down, revealing a long and flat floor. This boosts boot volume to a more-useful 1670L.

Finally, the lack of proper storage for the AC charge cable is a pity. It’s left to loll around in the back. And while we’re on the subject of hauling things, Mazda does not supply any towing capacity info for the MX-30. Which means we wouldn’t…

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Under the MX-30’s bonnet is an e-Skyactiv AC synchronous electric motor with water cooling and inverter, driving the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. The shifter is a shift-by-wire arrangement.

The electric motor delivers a conservative 107kW of power from 4500rpm and 11,000rpm, and 271Nm of torque from 0rpm to 3243rpm, which is on the smaller end of the EV scale – and in fact is below that of the regular mild-hybrid petrol version.

Under the MX-30’s bonnet is an e-Skyactiv AC synchronous electric motor with water cooling and inverter. Under the MX-30’s bonnet is an e-Skyactiv AC synchronous electric motor with water cooling and inverter.

As a result, forget about keeping up with a Tesla Model 3, since the Mazda needs a sufficient but unexceptional 9.7 seconds to reach 100km/h from standstill. In contrast, with 140kW, a Kona Electric will manage that in under 8 seconds flat.

Plus, the MX-30’s limited to a 140km/h top speed. But don’t worry, because Mazda says it’s all in the name of optimising efficiency…

Energy consumption and range   7/10

Under the MX-30’s floor is a battery that – controversially – is smaller than most of its direct competitors.

It offers 35.5kWh – and that’s almost half the size of the 62 to 64kWh batteries found in the Leaf+, Kona Electric and new Kia Niro EV that cost around the same amount. 

Mazda says it went for a “right sized” battery rather than a big one to save weight (for an EV, the 1670kg kerb weight is actually quite impressive) and costs across the entire lifecycle of the car, while making the MX-30 quicker to recharge.

Like we said earlier, it’s a philosophical thing.  

What this means is that you can expect a range of up to 224km (according to the ADR/02 figure), while the more real-world WLTP figure is 200km, compared to 484km (WLTP) in the Kona Electric. It’s a huge difference, and if you’re planning to drive the MX-30 over long distances regularly, it might be a deal breaker. 

Under the MX-30’s floor is a battery that – controversially – is smaller than most of its direct competitors. Under the MX-30’s floor is a battery that – controversially – is smaller than most of its direct competitors.

On the other hand, charging from 20 to 80 per cent needs only about 9hr using a domestic plug, 3hr if you invest around $3000 in a Wallbox or just 36 minutes plugged into a DC fast-charger. These are faster times than most.

Officially, the MX-30e consumes 18.5kWh/100km … which, in plain English, is about average for an EV of this size and bulk. As with all EVs, using the air-con or being heavy-footed can increase consumption dramatically.

Standard-fitment heated seats and steering wheel help maintain charge as they don’t draw from the EV battery, which is a bonus.

While Mazda won’t actually supply you with a Wallbox for home or for work, the company says there are plenty of outside suppliers that can provide you with one, so factor that in the price of buying an MX-30.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

Tested in late 2020, the MX-30 scores a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

Safety gear includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning (FCW), lane-keep warning and assist, front and rear cross-traffic alert, forward object warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop/go and speed limiter, auto high beams, traffic-sign recognition, tyre-pressure warnings, driver attention monitor and front and rear parking sensors.

Tested in late 2020, the MX-30 scores a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating. Tested in late 2020, the MX-30 scores a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

You’ll also find 10 airbags (dual front, driver’s knee and side, side and curtain items), stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, 360-degree surround-view camera, two rear-seat sited ISOFIX child-seat anchorage points and a trio of child-seat tether points behind the backrest.

Note that the AEB and FCW systems work between 4km/h and 160km/h.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The MX-30 follows other Mazda models in offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, along with five years of roadside assist.

The battery though, is covered by an eight-year/160,000km assurance period. Both are typical for the industry nowadays, rather than exceptional.

The MX-30 follows other Mazda models in offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The MX-30 follows other Mazda models in offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Scheduled service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first, which is about on a par with most other EVs.

Mazda says the MX-30 Electric will cost $1273.79 to service over five years under its Service Select Plan; averaging out to be about $255 annually – that’s cheaper than many EVs right now.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

The thing about the MX-30 is that if you’re expecting Tesla Model 3 levels of neck-snapping performance and acceleration, you’ll be disappointed.

But having said that, it’s not slow by any means off the mark, and once you get going, there’s a steady stream of torque that comes on instantly to power you along. So, it’s fast and it’s zippy, and that’s particularly obvious in the city, where you need to dart in and out of traffic situations. And in that regard, you’ll definitely won’t think this car is gutless. 

Like many other EVs nowadays, the Mazda features paddles on the steering wheel which regulate the amount of regenerative braking, with ‘5’ being strongest, ‘1’ having no assistance and ‘3’ being the default setting. In ‘1’, you have a freewheeling effect, and it’s like coasting downhill, and that’s actually quite a joy to experience because it almost feels like you’re flying. 

 The other positive EV characteristic is utter smoothness. This car glides along. Now, you can say that about the Leaf, Ioniq, ZS EV and all those other EVs priced around the $65,000 mark, but the Mazda has the advantage of actually being more refined and more premium in the way it delivers its performance.

Once you get going, there’s a steady stream of torque that comes on instantly to power you along. Once you get going, there’s a steady stream of torque that comes on instantly to power you along.

The steering is light yet it talks to you – there’s feedback; the car deals with bumps – especially larger city bumps ­– really well, with a suppleness to the suspension which I wasn’t expecting given the size of the wheel and tyre package in this Astina E35; and at higher speeds, it kind of corners the way you expect a Mazda to corner.

The suspension set-up isn’t that sophisticated, being a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear, but what it does is that it handles with a confident and assured poise that it kind of betrays the fact that this is a crossover/SUV.

If you like driving, and you like travelling in cars with comfort and refinement, then the MX-30 should definitely be on your shopping list.

The MX-30 also has an excellent turning circle. It’s really tight, really easy to park and manoeuvre, and that makes it particularly well suited in its role as a metro urban runabout. It’s great.

If you like driving, and you like travelling in cars with comfort and refinement, then the MX-30 should definitely be on your shopping list. If you like driving, and you like travelling in cars with comfort and refinement, then the MX-30 should definitely be on your shopping list.

Now, there are of course criticisms in the MX-30 because nothing’s perfect and this is far from perfect – and one of the more annoying ones is the aforementioned gear shifter, which is a little bit awkward to put into park.

The thick pillars make it difficult at times to see out without having to rely on the camera – which is actually excellent – and those large Dumbo ear-like rear-vision mirrors.

Also, there is a little bit of road noise over some surfaces like coarse chip; you can hear the rear suspension working if there’s only one of you on board, though if there’s a bit of weight in the back then that settles the car down a bit.

But that’s pretty much about it. The MX-30 Electric drives at a level that you might expect a Mercedes or BMW or Audi EV to, and in that regard, it punches above its weight. So, for a $65,000 Mazda, yes that’s expensive.

But if you consider that this car can certainly play in the Mercedes EQA/BMW iX3 levels and they’re approaching $100,000 and upwards when optioned up, then this is where the value of Mazda’s first EV really shows.  

The MX-30 is really pleasant to drive and travel in. Job well-done, Mazda.

Verdict

Overall, the Mazda MX-30e is a heart-over-head purchase.

Its flaws are easy to see. Packaging isn’t great. It’s got low range. There are some blind spots. And most of all, it isn’t cheap.

But these are obvious not long after you first step inside one at the dealership. Taking the time to drive it reveals an EV of depth and conviction, as well as quality and character. The Mazda's controversial specification is there for sound reasons, and if they align with your values, then you'll likely appreciate how far above its weight the MX-30e actually punches.  

So, from that perspective, it’s definitely complicated; but also well worth checking out.

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Price and features7
Design9
Practicality5
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership8
Driving9
Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist

Share

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.