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Mazda MX-30 Review: Befitting Small Island Life

Mazda right-sizes its first BEV instead of entering all guns blazing.
James Wong
James Wong
26 Mar 2023
... the MX-30 somehow seems to work just fine in little Singapore, one of the smallest countries in the world.
What we like:
Unique concept and looks
Pleasingly good to drive
Price is fair
What we dislike:
Not a dedicated BEV platform
Range is an issue for some

Never would we have expected that the venerable Mazda ‘MX’ nomenclature would eventually be placed on a BEV. The MX-5, Mazda’s well-loved two-door roadster, now shares its MX name in the form of the MX-30 SUV.

As Mazda’s first fully electric vehicle, there is a lot resting on the MX-30’s shoulders. Built on the CX-30 platform, the MX-30 adopts unusual approaches to the BEV world - as we would expect from Mazda.

For one, it has chosen to go for a smaller, ‘right-sized’ 35.5 kWh battery so as to reduce the lifecycle emissions impact of the MX-30. For reference, the battery in the Peugeot e-2008 (also in Category A COE) is some 30% bigger.

While this allows a lighter weight (1,720 kg) and more flexibility with cabin space (crucial for a car as small as the MX-30), it gives the car an official maximum range of just 224 km. However, in the real world, you should expect more like 170-180 km. This feels uncomfortably low especially if you do not have a charger at home to plug in every night. Conversely, it would not be a huge concern if you had your own dedicated charger whether at home or at the workplace.

No matter how you feel about the car’s limited range, one thing’s for sure: while it would have fallen flat in countries where one had to travel vast distances like the USA or Australia, the MX-30 somehow seems to work just fine in little Singapore, one of the smallest countries in the world. During my two day test carrying out my normal routine, it would be feasible to charge it once every two days assuming I had access to a charger every night.

The other uncommon approach with the MX-30 is its ‘freestyle’ doors. Fashioned very much like the ones in the RX-8, these give the car an added dimension of coolness. My 4 year old son was very much amazed at how the doors worked, and getting in and out was fun for him - so long as there was enough space in the car park. As the doors open very wide, it may be more practical to look for larger parking spaces with the MX-30. But I think it is the right move and gives the car an edgy appeal.

On the inside, it is very much familiar Mazda fare but lightly touched up with sustainable materials like heritage cork and fabric made from recycled PET bottles. The former is especially unique as it’s not a material we usually see in car interiors. Apparently it’s used because Mazda in the 1920s used to be a cork manufacturer. Another first we’ve seen is a second touchscreen below the main one for climate control and other functions - adopting what we’ve first seen in Audi interiors.

On the move, the MX-30 is superbly refined. It has reasonable damping and noise levels are extremely low. The steering is weighted nicely so there is some dynamism to the way the MX-30 drives. Given its lack of inertia of lugging around a huge battery, it handles and rides more like a normal ICE car.

With its small 80.9 kW electric motor, it’s never going to feel very fast, but I see that as a bonus as you don’t get nauseated every time you do a hard acceleration. I would call it ‘just nice’ at 143 hp and 271 Nm, dispatching the 0-100 km/h sprint in a respectable 9.7 seconds.

One thing though, due to the high shoulder line, the cabin does feel a little claustrophobic sometimes, especially for the rear passengers. The view out thus is also not as easy. But I guess these are trade offs for the style and looks.

Since the MX-30 isn’t built on a dedicated BEV platform, perhaps it's no surprise that there is no storage space in the frunk, but there is a fairly sized boot that will serve most purposes. Space inside feels better than the CX-30 but not much bigger.

Perhaps the greatest appeal of the MX-30 is its price - at $185k it is one of the more affordable BEVs around, while looking and feeling like it is more expensive. If you could live with the compromise of the limited range, it is a strangely appealing car.

Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club


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