First drive: 2021 Mazda MX-30 Electric launch review
Tim Nicholson plugs in with a first drive of the all-new Mazda MX-30 Electric.
Mazda’s first fully electric production car, the MX-30 Electric, has made its Australian debut ahead of an on-sale date in late August. The battery-electric version follows the March launch of the mild-hybrid MX-30. The MX-30 is Mazda’s first salvo in its global plan that will see 25 per cent of its model range fully electric by 2030. That includes five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids and three EVs in the range by 2025.
Mazda is expecting modest sales for the MX-30 Electric, with early adopters, design-focused and environmentally aware young urbanites the clear target, thanks to a bold design and sustainable cabin materials.
In launching the new model, Mazda Australia managing director, Vinesh Bhindi said he would need to see more government support before the Australian model range would hit the 25 per cent target. He called on the federal government to develop an action plan to avoid the complexities of state-by-state electric vehicle taxes and incentives.
What do you get for the price?
Unlike the MX-30 Mild Hybrid, which comes in three model grades, the MX-30 Electric is available in just one generously specified grade, the Astina. Pricing is set at $65,490 before on-road costs, $25,000 more than the MX-30 Mild Hybrid Astina and about $20,000 more than Australia's cheapest EV, the MG ZS. But it's in the ballpark of two other all-electric SUVs, the recently launched Kia Niro Electric Sport ($65,990) and Hyundai Kona Electric Highlander ($66,000).
The Mazda has a more premium look and feel than its Korean competitors, but it trails behind when it comes to driving range. The MX-30 has a WLTP-cycle range of 200km, while the Kia and Hyundai have a range of 455km and 484km, respectively.
Mazda's got loads of inclusions, with a standard kit including a sunroof, keyless entry and start, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated front seats, 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory function, 12-speaker Bose audio system, wireless charger, and an 8.8-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and satellite navigation.
How safe is it?
The MX-30 Electric carries the same 5-star crash safety rating as the Mild Hybrid version, tested against ANCAP’s tough 2020 protocols. It has a lengthy list of standard safety gear and driver aids, including front autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear AEB, front and rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, reversing camera, lane-keeping aid, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor, and driver attention alert.
The MX-30 Electric dashboard.
How does it drive?
We only had limited time behind the wheel at the media launch, so extensive drive impressions will have to wait for a full road test review.
Acceleration is usually pretty brisk in an EV, thanks to the instant torque. The MX-30 covers the 0-100km/h dash in 9.7 seconds, which is fine, but it’s slower than the MG ZS EV, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona Electric.
Mazda says it opted for a smaller battery pack with less range so it could be neatly housed under the floor, aiding weight distribution for improved handling. What you lose on driving range you gain in driver enjoyment. The MX-30 offers sharp handling and loads of grip when leaning into corners, aided by precise steering and Mazda’s torque vectoring system that enhances traction and grip.
The MX-30’s low-speed ride on urban roads is comfortable and well sorted, but we can’t tell you what’s it’s like on highways or b-roads just yet.
Thankfully Mazda has engineered its first EV to be just as engaging to drive as its other models.
Should I buy one?
The striking design, recycled cabin materials and electric powertrain will attract buyers drawn to interesting design and sustainable motoring. But if you are looking for a conventional EV with a functional second row and decent driving range, maybe check out one of the MX-30’s rivals.
Mazda’s evolving model range will soon include EVs that can drive longer distances, but for now, its first EV is more at home in an urban environment.