Maker's first electric car offers 130 miles of range and is intended to drive like any other Mazda

The electric Mazda MX-30 will shake up the EV market when it launches next year, shunning typical characteristics, such as silent motoring and one-pedal driving, that are found in EVs.

Mazda said the car, launching in early 2021, has been developed for drivers who “don’t want to sacrifice driving pleasure” when buying an electric car.

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Mazda’s first electric model will deliver 141bhp and 195lb ft from an electric motor powered by a 35.5kWh battery, offering a range of 130 miles. This is far less than many rivals, such as the 279-mile Hyundai Kona Electric, but Mazda says it exceeds the 31-mile average daily drive of European customers. 

Mazda added that it has chosen a smaller battery to achieve better emissions through the entire lifecycle of the car. Its research has found that a 35.5kWH battery produces fewer lifecycle emissions overall than a petrol-powered Mazda3 or an EV using a 95kWh battery (as the Audi E-tron) does. 

Christian Schultze, Mazda Europe R&D boss said: “We should not be excessive with battery size. We should consider how much range does a customer really need and how much battery [capacity] can we avoid to reduce CO2 substantially?”

There are no plans for a higher-powered or higher-range flagship MX-30, project manager Takeuchi-san told Autocar.

Mazda has chosen to differentiate the MX-30 from other EVs in a number of driving characteristics. For example, it has less regenerative breaking than many EVs - eschewing the popular one-pedal driving style - and also more progressive acceleration. 

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Schultze says: “For strong deceleration, we think the brake is better because it moves in the direction of our body. It has the same efficiency as the one-pedal of other EVs but has human advantages.”

It has also introduced an artificial sound which is intended to imitate the sound variations heard in an internal combustion-engined car as torque is applied. Mazda told Autocar it is still deciding whether to offer a silent option, which would be controllable by a switch in the car. 

The crossover, unveiled at Tokyo motor show, sits on a platform derived from the new architecture used on the Mazda3 and CX-30, but with increased ring structures around the battery and floor in order to achieve a “super stiff and fast-reacting body,” said Schultze. 

It employs an enhanced version of Mazda’s G-Vectoring control system called e-GVC Plus, which “leverages the torque characterisitcs of the electric motor to optimise the front-rear load shift under an even wider range of usage scenarios,” said Mazda. The electric motor allows for more minute torque control than an engine, Schultze explained.

The MX-30 is almost the same length as the brand’s CX-30 and slightly taller, to accommodate the underfloor battery. It brings back the RX-8’s suicide doors which Mazda said “enhances functionality and opens up a wide range of new and creative uses for the MX-30,” such as providing easier access for buggies and wheelchairs.

Inside, there is a floating console which includes a new seven-inch touchscreen display. Air conditioning is controlled by the touch panel for the first time in a Mazda, “making operation safe and intuitive,” said the brand. Leather is replaced with a vegan alternative, while cork left over from the production of bottle stops is used for the car’s storage space and door grips. 

The MX-30 is capable of 6.6kW domestic charging and and 50kW rapid charging via a CCS connection, the latter of which will give 80% charge in 30 to 40 minutes, claimed Mazda.

Explaining the MX-30 nomenclature, Mazda said the MX prefix has previously been used on products that “challenge assumptions”. For example, the MX-5 was a sporty roadster when this segment had been dismissed by other makers.  Mazda’s European boss Yasuhiro Aoyama commented: “As with all our products, our designers and engineers had a very clear goal for our first battery electric vehicle. It had to have stand out design, be great to drive, something we believe many manufacturers have forgotten in their rush to launch EV products, and most importantly, make a positive contribution to reducing emission across the entire life cycle of the product".

He added: “Alongside the electrification technologies we are introducing across our range, being a smaller manufacturer we focused all our efforts on creating an electric car that we anticipate will be a second car where the range of our vehicle will meet customers’ needs.”

Following the launch of the electric MX-30, a range-extender variant will be added to the model line-up, powered by Mazda’s famed rotary engine. The Japanese firm’s range hasn’t featured a rotary-engined road car since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012, but has remained interested in reintroducing the technology to production since. The Mazda RX-Vision Concept, which was shown at the Tokyo motor show in 2015, used such a powertrain.

Talking about the variant, Schultze says: “With the rotary engine range extender, we can recharge during driving and the car becomes long distance. It is a multi-fuel engine, so in the future, we could use with CNG, LPG, hydrogen. We think it’s important to have a global view.” The model could also offer plug-in hybrid and series hybrid variants.

The electric MX-30 will start below £30,000 including the £3500 plug-in grant. Orders will open next summer, ahead of deliveries starting in early 2021. Mazda UK boss Jeremy Thomson predicts the MX-30 will make up three to five per cent of its overall volume in the first year, betting on EV sales growth beyond the current UK market share of just over one per cent.

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Comments
9

23 October 2019

I must admit, after all my excitement about the possible styling of this car, I find myself a little underwhelmed with the final exterior design.  The interior has some nice looking materials and is not very different to the 3 or CX-30, which I suppose is what Mazda are trying to acheive with this car as a whole, hence the somewhat staid exterior.  I do love that the suicide doors have made a return, and they offer something different to all the other crossovers currently on sale.  Maybe it would look more interesting in another colour...

23 October 2019

I hope that the suicide doors are not as impractical as the BMW i3 where the front seat passenger must open their door first?  Not very user friendly if the front seat passenger has already vacated.

 

23 October 2019

Dissapointed to say the least! It looks like a total afterthough and suffers from being a modified ICE platform with a big bonnet and small passenger compartment. Also explains the small battery capacity. Lack of engineering depth elswhere is rationalised with marketing BS - less regenertive braking 'more human' , progressive accelleration is code for low power. The battery is slow charging. sounds like they have bought the rights to the first gen Nissan Leaf tech! Sales forecast = 0.

23 October 2019
Regarding regenerative braking and lack of one pedal, does this mean the regen doesn't happen when you lift off the accelerator, it happens when you depress the brake?

I quite like the styling of this and like the Honda e and mini I can understand some needing a lower range, which would be great if it translated to a lower price. This appears to be priced at a similar level to a Kona which even in lower range betters this.
Whilst I don't know but I do imagine that most ev buyers at this price point will prefer the higher range of its competitors.

23 October 2019

The possibility of one pedal driving is one of the things that really appeals to me about electric vehicles. I drive an electric van at work, and I particularly enjoy this feature, especially on windy country roads. Its a shame Mazda couldn't have just incorporated an adjustable system as others have done.

23 October 2019
One hopes that the artificial noise is only played inside the car. The child driving can enjoy all the stupid vrooms he (and, yes, it'll be mostly men) wishes, without annoying the grown ups.

23 October 2019

This seems like a step backwards for Mazda. Their recent styling has a breath of fresh air but this appears poorly proportioned and frankly a little odd. Interior looks better but I really don't want a touch screen for the a/c controls - whatever Mazda say, it's not safer than a physical knob or button. However the real issue is range. Sure my average journey may be far under 130 miles but the thing with averages is they are made up of journeys that are longer and shorter. Maybe the range extender will sort this, but why not just have a bigger battery than an engine and fuel tank.

23 October 2019

It had better be extremely cheap, like MG ZS or less cheap.

23 October 2019

Surprised to see the touchscreen for climate controls in this Mazda.  I remember reading that Mazda did a lot of research in designing the new 3 interior and concluded that touchscreens were a distraction hence the set-up in the 3.  Totally ignoring that here?

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