First Drive Impressions: Should You Buy The $36,000 Mazda MX-30 Over A Tesla Model 3?

Does actually driving the MX-30 put any of our reservations at ease?

2022 Mazda MX-30
The Mazda MX-30 kicks off a move toward electric vehicles, but is it worth your time? (Images: Mazda)

How does the new Mazda MX-30 perform in the real world?

The EV race is on, and Mazda’s jumping into the fight first with its all-electric MX-30. Make no mistake, this is more of a city-car than a long-distance cruiser, thanks to its 35.5-kWh battery. Nonetheless, the automaker remains confident that folks needing a small, affordable zero-emissions car for their daily commute will find just what they need in the MX-30. But how well does it actually work in the real world? Tommy finds out in the video below.

Now, as Tommy’s time with the car was limited on the event itself, we’ll have to reserve some of the farther-reaching verdicts until we can test it more thoroughly. Initial impressions of the 2022 Mazda MX-30, however, are mostly positive. Mazda takes a different approach to both design and convention here, by way of moving beyond their standard SkyActiv gasoline models. You will see some different features with this car, like the entirely electronic shifter, as well as some noise piped into the cabin to simulate what you’d experience conventionally.

In terms of dynamics, the front-wheel drive Mazda MX-30 brings a single electric motor to the table. The unit puts out 143 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. It’s fairly easy to break the front tires loose a little bit with all that instantaneous torque, but out-and-out sports car the MX-30 is not. It does have a slightly more rear-biased weight distribution than its CX-30 platform mate, though, and the combination of the car’s well-weighted steering and Mazda’s G Vectoring Control system certainly makes the MX-30 a solidly good drive.

2022 Mazda MX-30

Addressing the “R” word

As electric cars evolve, though, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 does face one major headwind, even with serious buyers. With just around 100 miles to a charge, the car won’t satisfy those looking for a good road trip video. Mazda contends most folks will drive 30 miles of daily commuting, but the buffer literally isn’t there should you want to go farther afield. 50 kW DC fast charging capability is another limiting factor, even if it does make more sense for a battery this small.

In all, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 is an interesting first shot. It’s a good driving experience — as you’d expect from a Mazda — and the interior looks good. Still, with cars reaching (and even surpassing) the 500-mile mark these days, the goal posts have moved from the compliance cars we saw a decade ago. The worry here is that buyers will simply look at that 100-mile range, coupled to a $34,645 starting price (before incentives, mind you), and just write off the MX-30 by default.

For now, it seems the automaker is testing the waters with their fledgling EV. It’s only going on sale in California later this year, and other markets may follow. We’ll also see a plug-in hybrid backed up with a rotary range extender in time, and that could well enhance the MX-30’s appeal.