Having recently driven many of the latest and greatest EVs, I’d started to forget “range anxiety” was a thing. Then a Mazda MX-30 arrived in my driveway, all sexy long hood, coupey roofline, and two-tone (gray over Soul Red) paint. Waitaminit. I gotta drive 83 miles to Saginaw Monday. What’s the EPA range of this MX-30’s 35.5-kWh battery? Only 100 miles!?
Look, anyone with a casual knowledge of EVs knows that 100 miles of driving range would have been middling for an affordable EV ten years ago; amongst today’s options and their 200-miles-plus figures, the Mazda is seriously lacking. But, hey, the EPA says the MX-30 can do 100 miles, and I’d be putting it to the test trying to achieve, well, 83 percent of that in the real world on a single charge.
My Nexteer supplier hosts confirmed they had a level-two charger I could park at and charge with during our meeting, so I set off from suburban Detroit after having parked on my L2 garage charger overnight. The Mazda’s gauge showed 92 miles of range—not much reserve, so I locked the cruise at the 70-mph limit, with no heat or air conditioning (the 60-degree cloudy weather made this tolerable).
Along the way, it was amusing to watch the MX-30’s native nav system announce all gas stations at every exit—the system is clearly borrowed from gas-fed models—but less so contending with the dearth of available energy-use screens or eco-driving coaches. There’s only a miles/kWh history bar graph and an info page that tells you how much range you’ll gain by switching off climate control. I arrived in Saginaw with the Mazda showing 12 miles of remaining range.
After an hour and 20 minutes on Nexteer’s L2 charger the MX-30 was showing 36 miles of range (and a low battery range warning). I programmed my home address into the native nav system and was surprised to get no “destination out of range” warning or suggested routing via chargers, widgets typically found in EVs. I found a list of chargers along the route in the POI menu, but the list was woefully out of date (Sirius XM can provide up-to-date listings, but the press-car’s subscription had expired), so I programmed my Waze app for the DC Fast-Charger I’d already determined to be closest to my route—33 miles south at the Flint airport. With only 3 miles of cushion, I tucked in to draft a semi going 65 mph to ensure I arrived with enough energy to find another charger if necessary.
DC Fast Charging
Fortunately, the two ChargePoint units, located inside the airport’s short-term parking area (adding a $2 disincentive to their use) were both unoccupied and functional. The MX-30 is rated for 50 kW DC charging, but this 125 kW charger maxed at 35 kW, which added 21.89 kWh ($6.57) in 39 minutes. With an indicated 70 miles of range and only 58 miles to go, I felt emboldened to drive 80 mph with the climate control set to 68 degrees. Doing so consumed most of my range cushion and I arrived home with 3 miles to spare.
Is the Mazda MX-30 a Real EV?
It would have been an awesome EV—in 2010. In 2022, it’s impossible to excuse the two-digit real-world range with no apparent nav programming to facilitate route planning or eco-coaching to maximize the minimal range. Then there’s the cramped packaging, the enormous hood with no frunk (there is SO much air under there), the slow charging, etc.
As Mazda’s first electrified vehicle, nearly every normal buyer will be able to get into one for just $27,195 after the $7,500 federal tax credit is applied. That—along with its styling—are its biggest selling features, now that other manufacturers selling out of their tax-credit allotments. As to whether it’s a real EV, we’ll say this: The MX-30 is electric, but it’s not very good at being electric. If your daily driving requirements don’t see much highway use and favor short trips, the price could be attractive; for everyone else, spend a little more and get, say, a Nissan Leaf or a Chevrolet Bolt, both of which offer over 200 miles of range for not much more money.
Looks good! More details?
|2022 Mazda MX-30 Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-motor, FWD, 5-pass, 2+2-door hatchback|
|MOTOR||143-hp/200-lb-ft DC permanent-magnet electric|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,650 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||173.3 x 70.7 x 61.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.3 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||98/85/92 mpg-e (est)|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||100 miles|