2022 Mazda MX-30 E35 Astina
When Mazda introduced the MX-30 small crossover to its already comprehensive small-vehicle family in March 2021, it wasn’t immediately obvious how it fitted in. With the CX-3 looking after the compact-SUV crowd, the Mazda 3 taking care of the hatchback audience and the CX-30 filling in any gaps between them, how could the mechanically almost identical MX-30 find any attention at all?
SMALL RANGE, BIG PRICE. HIGH DESIRABILITY?
Aside from an extremely mild hybrid system, its engine and drivetrain is unchanged from the 2021 Wheels Car of the Year, while its exterior design is mould-breaking in some respects but compromises practically in others. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, the MX-30 comes at a price premium to its CX-30 sibling, too.
However, the petrol-powered MX-30 was arguably the curtain-raiser for this, Mazda’s first pure-electric vehicle – the MX-30 E35 Astina.
While the petrol versions broke little new ground beyond their attractive façades and interesting interior approach, the newest offering keeps the promises that its radical exterior design made when it was first unveiled.
But the battery-electric drivetrain now found in the flagship E35 Astina is the true gem of the model line. It pairs a 35.5kWh lithium ion battery with a single AC synchronous motor on the front axle for a simple but elegant package. Figures on paper are modest: 107kW and 271Nm, however, that relatively small battery only adds around 160kg over the petrol version of the MX-30 for a total of about 1650kg. That translates to surprisingly lively performance. Pin the quiet pedal from standstill and the MX-30 responds eagerly with strong acceleration and the occasional chirp of the front tyres.
It’s really the torque figure that has the most influence on the Mazda’s performance, especially when negotiating urban traffic where you can also experiment with the five-level regenerative braking.
In the highest setting, the regen effect is not quite as aggressive as some other EVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace or BMW i3 and not quite calibrated for true one-pedal driving, but still effective enough to slow the car and maximise battery range.
The two coasting modes at the opposite end of the spectrum are arguably even more interesting, creating an eerie but likable frictionless glide. When you do have to rely on the brakes during more enthusiastic driving, the pedal feel is pleasingly progressive and confident.
The chassis is equally rewarding with the additional weight positioned low down providing a real sense of stability and sure-footedness. Further, the weight feels equally distributed and there’s a surprising resistance to understeer. Coupled with a sharp steering tune, the E35 is certainly the pick of the MX-30 range for drivers who like to drive, especially if a majority of those duties are in suburbia. Add to that the same range-topping level of equipment you get in the equivalent petrol MX-30 and a boot that only sacrifices six litres of space at 311L.
A relatively short range of 224km on a full charge may put off some interested parties, but it’ll probably be ample for a majority of city dwellers. Finally, the MX-30 has the unique drivetrain to match its unique looks and the entire car feels most complete as an EV. However, it comes at quite a hefty price. At about $15,000 more than the petrol-powered G20e Astina, the cost of entry into Mazda’s zero-emissions club is certainly exclusive.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE
- Model 2022 Mazda MX-30 E35 Astina
- Motor single (front axle)
- Battery 35.5kW/h
- Max power 107kW
- Max torque 271Nm
- Transmission single-speed reduction gear
- Weight 1654kg
- 0-100km/h 9.0sec (estimated)
- Economy 17kW/h/100km
- Price $65,490
- On sale Now
- PLUS + Cool design; excellent city dynamics; efficient powertrain
- MINUS — Hefty price; relatively short range; single variant for now