Skip to main content
car review

2022 Mazda MX-30.Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

According to a 2019 survey from Statistics Canada, the median distance travelled by Canadians with a car commuting time of at least 60 minutes is 40 kilometres. The vast majority of car commuters drive much shorter distances, the median figure dropping to just eight kilometres. The new Mazda MX-30′s stated 161-kilometre range on a full charge should therefore be sufficient and workable. But consumers are rarely rational.

Mazda seems to recognize that the MX-30′s range is going to immediately filter out some new car shoppers. Over at Hyundai, the popular Kona EV is not much more expensive, and offers more than double the range. The MX-30′s 35.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack puts it in the company of the lower-spec Nissan Leaf, which is significantly less expensive.

The MX-30 will be launched in British Columbia and Quebec only, at least at first. It qualifies for the $3,000 electric vehicle rebate in B.C., and Quebec’s significant $8,000 rebate.

Few people start their new-car-buying journey by asking how much gasoline the fuel tank can hold. EVs are different: Range is the major concern; everything else seems like a secondary consideration.

In the case of the MX-30, Mazda has the unenviable task of trying to get buyers to look past the range and actually climb behind the wheel. Those who do will find an EV that is typically Mazda in execution: Deeply satisfying in some ways, puzzling in others, and far from boring.

The first clue to the MX-30′s quirks comes when you open its doors. Yes, there are four of them, but they’re not laid out in the typical crossover fashion. Instead, the rear doors are hinged at the back, similar to the old Mazda RX-8 coupe.

Mazda affixes the “MX” appellation to the company’s more experimental offerings – the original MX-5, the weirdly tiny V6 of the MX-3. Here, the MX-30′s underpinnings start out conventionally – its structure is related to the CX-30 crossover – but plenty of oddness follows. Under the hood, for instance, is a huge amount of open space.

A small rotary engine range extender is slated to fill this space, making the MX-30 even more unusual. In the pure EV version, the battery pack is mounted beneath the floor, and the compact drive unit sits up front. The MX-30 is front-wheel drive, but has rearward weight bias.

Despite a readily available 200 lb-ft of torque, the MX-30 offers slower acceleration than some of its bigger-battery rivals. It’s not significantly lighter than some of its South Korean rivals, but it does feel lighter on its feet. On a very wet road, the electric torque vectoring offered secure grip.

Mazda seems to recognize that the MX-30′s range is going to immediately filter out some new car shoppers.Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Even better, the fully charged battery showed a better-than-advertised 200 kilometres of range, which depleted no faster than the odometer counted up kilometres. The MX-30′s battery pack is equipped with warming elements, given that cold weather often has a significant negative effect on EVs. It appears that Mazda has erred on the side of caution when listing the MX-30′s range, which is good for buyers.

As the rain turned torrential and the traffic became even more snarled, the MX-30 pulled an ace out of its sleeve. (Forget that this car shares a prefix with the MX-5. Mazda’s popular roadster shines on an empty back road, but lacks everyday practicality.)

The MX-30 is almost Scandinavian in how snug and comfortable it can be, despite miserable driving conditions. The high-quality fabric seats, the exposed cork trim, and an overall high level of fit and finish combine to create a calm space.

The MX-30′s limited range narrows its appeal. But its thoughtful layout and well-crafted interior make it feel special. Further, according to typical commuting distances, at least, what it offers is perfectly adequate for most people. It’s not for everyone, but it will surprise those willing to climb into the driver’s seat.

Tech specs

2022 Mazda MX-30

Base price/as tested: $42,150/$42,800

Motor: AC synchronous

Transmission/drive: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive

Fuel economy (Le/100 kilometres): 2.4 city/2.8 highway

Alternatives: Hyundai Kona EV, Chevrolet Bolt, Kia Soul EV

Mazda's MX-30 is not for everyone, but it will surprise those willing to climb into the driver’s seat.Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Ratings

Looks

Mazda deserves a significant amount of credit for not making the MX-30 look weird just to stand out. The overall look is more squared off than the rest of the Mazda range, but it’s conventionally handsome. The choice of rear doors does come with the drawback of a large driver’s-side blind spot.

Interior

Mazda’s engineers have spent countless hours fine-tuning handling and performance, but the real heroes for the MX-30 are the members of the interior design team. Many surfaces are made of recycled materials, but the overall feel is upscale and comfortable. Adult rear seat passengers have enough room to stay comfortable during a quick across-town jaunt.

Performance

Mazdas generally offer deft handling, but not at the expense of ride quality. Such is the case with the MX-30, which soaked up bumps without fuss, yet was also fun to drive and sure-footed on curving roads.

Technology

The MX-30′s battery can be charged quickly. With a Level 2 charger installed, owners can expect to reach an 80 per cent charge from 20 per cent in under three hours. A Level 3, 50-kilowatt fast charger can take the battery to 80 per cent from 20 per cent in 36 minutes.

Cargo

As the door layout would indicate, the MX-30 offers coupelike qualities over mid-sized crossover practicability. Cargo space in the rear is 431 litres, or 1,053 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The verdict

The range will be a deal-breaker for many, but for buyers looking for a commuter vehicle that’s outside the mainstream, the MX-30 has its quirky charms.

The MX-30 is almost Scandinavian in how snug and comfortable it can be.Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.