Car executives frequently claim their firm thinks differently, often when they’re about to pull the covers off a new box-shaped, box-ticking, firmly inside-the-box SUV. But Mazda? Mazda really is a little bit different. From its belief in the rotary motor to its compression ignition petrol engines, Mazda frequently stands alone in a fug of car industry conformity - and that’s true of its approach to electric cars.
Mazda, you see, doesn’t seem entirely convinced by them. Not because of tin-hatted climate change denial, but due to a belief that the environmental impact of an EV should be measured across its whole life cycle - and big lithium ion batteries mean making an EV produces more CO2 than making a combustion-engined car.
But Mazda knows it needs EVs - both to meet growing consumer demand and to meet ever-toughening emissions legislation. Which brings us to the MX-30. From the outside, it looks like a firmly inside-the-box electric crossover. It mixes Mazda’s typically understated style with some stylish flourishes (RX-8-esque suicide doors!), a packed equipment list and pricing that starts at a very competitive £25,545 (after government grant).
So far, so conventional. But the philosophy underpinning the MX-30 is almost wilfully anti-establishment. Mazda has taken a stand against the trend to pack EVs with expensive and bigger batteries to offer more range. It’s fitted the MX-30 with a comparatively small 35.5kWh battery: good for the environment, lowering the car’s price and for driving dynamics. The cost is the MX-30’s official range: 124 miles. Mazda claims it’s ‘right-sized’, offering sufficient range for the daily usage of intended buyers. You could also describe it as ‘small’, especially compared with rivals such as the Peugeot e-208 (211 miles), Renault Zoe (245) and Nissan Leaf (194). It can’t even match the oft-criticised ranges of the Mini Electric (142) and Honda E (136).
So can the MX-30’s competitive price, driving dynamics and new features convince sceptical buyers that Mazda’s philosophy really is right?