Why we’re running it: Does Mazda’s unusual debut EV make daily driving a joy, or will its limitations frustrate over time?
Life with an MX-30: Month 1
Welcoming the MX-30 to the fleet - 5 May 2021
Whatever your opinion on the unstoppable rise of the SUV, there’s no disputing that such cars facilitate the acceleration of electrification.
First, they’re generally raised off the ground, which allows for a whopping great block of lithium ion to be strapped to their undersides. Second, SUVs generally prioritise practicality over driving thrills, so any adverse dynamic impact stemming from the heft of electric innards isn’t of huge concern to the majority of buyers. And third, with the engine, gearbox and propshafts out of the way, there’s room for a much more capacious cabin than perhaps we’ve become used to.
All of which serves to explain why most mainstream manufacturers have chosen SUVs to be their first electric cars (not forgetting, of course, their overwhelming popularity with the modern consumer). But then there’s Mazda, that automotive salmon usually found swimming against the current of convention.
Rotary engines, compression- ignition petrol motors, slick Kodo design language that helps even its most mainstream models stand out: there are many reasons it’s among the most petrolhead-friendly brands in the mainstream sphere.
So what of its first fully electric car, the MX-30? Well, it’s certainly a Mazda: the rear doors open backwards, the centre console is clad in cork and the engineers have made a concerted effort to preserve some of the brand’s trademark dynamic balance. But with nearly everyone doing the whole electric SUV thing nowadays, can those quirks really be enough to make it the pick of the crop, or could this be a rare example of Mazda choosing panache over practicality?
What you will really want to know, and what we’re quickly finding out, is whether its 35.5kWh battery pack – a common talking point – can provide enough range for daily use. It’s the same size as that used in the notoriously short-legged Honda E and only 40% larger than the battery used for the plug-in hybrid version of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.