Mazda MX-30 Review: Good Looks, Subpar Performance

Mazda claims in its marketing materials that instead of going for all-out range, they chose to pack the MX-30 with a weak electric motor and short-range battery because that’s all a typical driver would need. I’m skeptical. It sounds like justification for underinvesting in EV technology over all these years. It doesn’t matter that most trips in the car are under 100 miles. Cumulatively, all those short trips add up fast. Trying to fit a day of commuting to and from work, plus errands, in the MX-30 means playing a never-ending game of range anxiety that involves starting every journey with maximum (or 80 percent) charge, carefully plotting out where to refill, and wondering whether you’ll have enough power left at the end of the day to make it home.

The MX-30 can charge up to only 50kW on a fast charger. That’s weak compared to the 115-150kW available on the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the astounding Kia EV6 that can reach over 200kW at peak speed. Still, it has such a small battery that it doesn’t take that long to charge from 20 to 80 percent. I managed the task in about 40 minutes at a fast charger that didn’t quite hit its peak of 50kW for the entire charging time.

The MX-30’s remaining range estimator on the dashboard, though, was the most accurate of any EV I’ve driven. When it said I had 60 miles of range, I knew that 40 miles down the road I’d have about 20 miles of range left, even as I oscillated between bumper-to-bumper traffic and cruising along on the highway. That, at least, is a consolation prize for having such a short range.

Having said that, road trips in the MX-30 would be tedious beyond comprehension if you’’e having to stop every 50 to 75 miles to plug in, and downright impossible across many stretches of the country where charging stations are few and far between. Not to mention that lithium-ion EV batteries behave just like lithium-ion batteries in other consumer products, such as phones. If you charge it to full each time, you’re going to degrade the battery much faster than if you charge it to only 80 percent. Charge the MX-30 to 80 percent, though, and you’re starting with only 80 miles of range.

Beautiful Interior, Bland Screen

Photograph: James Halfacre/Mazda

The MX-30 mounts an 8.8-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard and a separate 7-inch touchscreen for climate controls down by the shifter. The dashboard itself bisects the space between the two screens, so there’s no singular giant tablet that handles all functions, like Tesla, Polestar 2, the Mustang Mach-E, and, well, most EVs these days.

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