The MX-30 uses the bones of the CX-30 utility vehicle, but the MX-30’s rear doors are hinged at the back and of course the styling is different with a big front bumper and thin grille. PHOTO: MAZDA

The MX-30 uses the bones of the CX-30 utility vehicle, but the MX-30’s rear doors are hinged at the back and of course the styling is different with a big front bumper and thin grille. PHOTO: MAZDA

Mazda MX-30: Is there enough to lure buyers to Mazda’s first EV?

Electric-vehicle first-timer Mazda is dipping its toe into the electric grid with the limited-production 2022 MX-30 hatchback.

Instead of developing a specialized EV platform, which is the case with most competing electric models, Mazda chose to build the MX-30 using the CX-30’s bones. Both cars are identical in all key dimensions and cargo capacity.

What’s unique about the MX-30 is a pair of unconventional rear doors. Actually they’re not doors in the usual sense, but rather partial-door-size openings. They latch clamshell-style from the inside and make access to the rear seat much easier than a traditional two-door coupe design, but obviously not like full-size doors would.

Setting the MX-30 apart from the CX-30 are unique pinched-nose grille and taillight treatments along with an available black-painted roof surrounded by silver grey pillars.

The MX-30’s interior is a modest departure from the CX-30’s, with variations in the control panel, door trim and the console. In both cases, the 8.8-inch touchscreen appears partially sunken beneath the dashboard.

The new MX-30 and CX-30 are identical in all key dimensions and cargo capacity. The CX-30 starts at about $26,900 and has 186 horsepower. The base MX-30 costs about $17,000 more and has 143 horsepower. PHOTO: MAZDA

The new MX-30 and CX-30 are identical in all key dimensions and cargo capacity. The CX-30 starts at about $26,900 and has 186 horsepower. The base MX-30 costs about $17,000 more and has 143 horsepower. PHOTO: MAZDA

Mazda’s new e-Skyactiv system consists of a relatively small 35.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack plus an 80.9-kilowatt electric motor. This combination produces 143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. A single-speed transmission directs power to the front wheels.

The MX-30 is therefore among the least powerful electric vehicles on the market. Another “least” is an estimated 160 kilometres of range. A 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV costs slightly less, has 200 horsepower and nearly 400 kilometres of claimed range.

A Level 2 station — most public charging stations and extra-cost home units — will replenish the MX-30’s batteries to 80 per cent from five per cent in close to three hours. It’s best to try sourcing a Level 3 charger (480-volt DC), which can get the job done in a bit more than 30 minutes. Recharging using a 120-volt home outlet requires an agonizing 14-hour wait. And if you drive the full 160 kilometres of range each day, then that’s 14 hours a day on the charger.

For fuel consumption equivalency, the MX-30 is officially rated at 2.4 l/100 km in the city, 2.8 on the highway and 2.6 combined.

Power and charging times aside, the MX-30 is fun to drive. The cabin is well appointed, road noise is low and the overall steering and handling is as precise as that of any Mazda vehicle. The MX-30’s suspension does a good job on rough pavement, too. The regenerative brakes function smoothly, unlike some competing vehicles in which the pedal can be touchy.

The best part of the MX-30 might just be the interior, which is simple, elegant and fresh. PHOTO: MAZDA

The best part of the MX-30 might just be the interior, which is simple, elegant and fresh. PHOTO: MAZDA

The MX-30 can’t produce rapid off-the-line bursts and the throttle response is on par with a modestly powered four-cylinder gasoline engine.

The base MX-30 costs $44,000, including destination fees, and comes reasonably loaded, including navigation, heated front seats and an eight-speaker audio system.

The GT trim gets a power moonroof, 12-speaker Bose audio system, faux leather seat covers, 360-degree surround-view monitor and 18-inch wheels (16s are standard).

The full suite of dynamic-safety technologies includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and driver-attention alert. The GT also gets front-traffic alert and steering intervention that kicks in if the driver attempts to change lanes while another vehicle is occupying that space.

Initially, the MX-30 will be offered only in Quebec and British Columbia before eventually rolling out across Canada. Also in the works is a plug-in hybrid version that uses a range-extending gasoline engine to supply juice to the batteries.

That will definitely eliminate any issues concerning range anxiety for MX-30 buyers who would likely find owning one a more satisfying experience.

The big question: Will buyers go for the $44,000 MX-30 when it has only 160 kilometres of estimated range and 143 horsepower? The trade-off could be a reasonably luxurious look and feel. PHOTO: MAZDA

The big question: Will buyers go for the $44,000 MX-30 when it has only 160 kilometres of estimated range and 143 horsepower? The trade-off could be a reasonably luxurious look and feel. PHOTO: MAZDA

What you should know: 2022 Mazda MX-30

Type: Front-wheel-drive compact electric hatchback

Motor (h.p.): 80.9-kilowatt (143)

Transmission: Single-speed automatic

Market position: The MX-30 is Mazda’s first (and somewhat tentative) effort at creating a global electric vehicle. It doesn’t have much battery range or power, but it is in the shape of a utility vehicle, which should help popularity.

Points: Attractive bodywork is based on the existing CX-30 hatchback. • Interior has been given a more up-level appearance. • Drives and handles well despite a noticeable lack of power. • Standard array of safety tech covers most contingencies. • Given the price, 160 kilometres of range will concern prospective buyer who travel far afield.

Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (std.); front and rear emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (std.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)

L/100 km-e (city/hwy): 2.4/2.8

Base price (incl. destination): $44,000

BY COMPARISON

Chevrolet Bolt EUV

  • Base price: $42,100
  • New-for-2022 model uses a 200-h.p. motor and has a 395-km estimated range.

Hyundai Kona electric

  • Base price: $45,700
  • Updated 201-h.p. hatchback handles well and provides a 415-km range.

Nissan Leaf

  • Base price: $37,800
  • Nissan’s low-priced EV has a range of 240 or 360 kms, depending on the model.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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