Mazda’s first EV is the MX-30. We drove it…
The Japanese car manufacturer has a quite different approach to electrification than most of its (usually far bigger) competitors. We already gave information about this in the recent past. Today, we had the opportunity, as one of the first in Europe, to drive their first fully electric car, the MX-30.
Mazda stands for an original multi-solution approach to the energy transition problem. Apart from the transition to (kinds of) electrical sustainable energy, Mazda wants to keep its “pursuit of driving joy”. In its plan for the next ten years, it wants to pay attention to the global earth, to society, and to people who live on/in it.
LCA and MET
Mazda is using LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) to come to its present strategy. It implies that the company chooses for smaller batteries (less pollution, lower cost). They word it like this: “batteries have to be as big as necessary but also as small as possible.”
That’s the reason why Mazda is not only aiming at battery electric vehicles (BEVs). In the future, the manufacturer will still offer its innovative SkyActiv X technology for internal combustion engines (ICE), and apart from that BEVs, BEVs with a range extender, plug-in hybrids, or full hybrids. It’s a strategy of Multiple Electrification Technologies (MET).
Where the aid of an ICE engine is needed for electric propulsion, Mazda will also use an original path. The engine/generator adjacent to the electromotor will be a rotary engine. It is compact, light, space-saving, and can run on gas, LPG, CNG, and even hydrogen.
Mazda’s European head of advanced engineering, Christian Schultze, also believes in synthetic fuels. They can also bring their part of the solution, always considering the LCA approach as the leading perspective.
Driving the MX-30
One of the first pre-series Mazda MX-30 models was waiting for us at Mazda Belgium’s HQ for a short test drive. The MX-30 has a cross-over look and is rather compact. When you open the door, you get the first surprise. The back door hinges at the rear (like the BMW i3 but also the late Mazda RX-8) to have an easier ingress for rear passengers. In tight parking spaces, this layout can be a bit of a problem.
The interior is airy and uses a lot of recycled or ‘natural’ materials, which is most visualized by the cork inlays in the doors and in the center console. The dashboard layout is rather classic, the seating position mostly familiar. That’s also the purpose: users have to feel at home as soon as possible in an EV.
With its 105 kW electric motor, the MX-30 is able to follow traffic flow swiftly, but it’s not the impressive accelerator you are used to from other electric vehicles like a Tesla for example. It once again illustrates the different Mazda approach on electric propulsion.
With its relatively small battery pack (35,5 kWh), the MX-30 has an official WLTP range of around 200 km. During our test drive on different types of roads, highways included, the on-board computer indicated an average electricity consumption of 15,7 kWh, which is very frugal taking into account the size and weight of the car.
Comfortable and quiet
Thanks to a good platform and a low center of gravity due to the heavy battery pack under the floor, the road-holding of the MX-30 is impeccable in most circumstances. The car even offers a lot of driving joy (a priority for Mazda), but don’t consider MX-30 a sports car. That’s not the purpose.
The key factor of the car is comfort, in all meanings. The seats are supporting well, in the back row space is more limited. Comparing the suspension comfort with that of other Mazda’s, CX-30 for example, we had the impression that MX-30 is clearly more comfortable, the more so when the road surface gets worse.
Another important comfort aspect is noise. The MX-30 is very quiet, also rolling noises are well subdued. What amazes a little bit is that the engineers have created a driving sound coming in through the audio system, mimicking the acceleration of an ICE car. Not very useful, and surely not necessary for us to feel comfortable, but at Mazda, they believe that EV newcomers appreciate this.
When we drove a mule of the car in October last year, there was only a very light slowing down when you stopped pushing the acceleration pedal, signaling that energy recuperation while decelerating was not optimal.
On the MX-30 you now can choose the degree of ‘energy braking’ through paddles at the steering wheel (three different modes). This works very well, in the third mode you approach so-called one-pedal driving, using the real brakes as scarcely as possible.
To sum it all up, the first meeting with the MX-30 was a pleasant experience. Don’t expect a sporty EV, rather a very comfortable and snug little cross-over. The range is enough for most car users in this country. People with acute range anxiety can wait for the version with range extender.