Mazda likes to do things its own way.
When the rest of the car industry was busily downsizing its engines and popping 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines into big cars, Mazda stuck to using bigger engines that didn’t have to work so hard and were economical.
And then there’s Mazda’s perseverence with the rotary or Wankel engine, which others abandonded decades ago.
This week’s road test car is another example of Mazda sticking to its principles.
The car is the MX-30 and it’s the company’s first pure electric vehicle. Like most of Mazda’s recent cars it’s good looking with simple styling. However, the rear doors are hinged at the back edge and there are no B-pillars to get in the way of climbing into the rear seats.
But what’s really interesting is that the car’s range is only 124 miles. Mazda has an explanation for this and it makes quite a lot of sense.
Firstly, batteries are hugely expensive and the more range you want, the bigger the battery you need.
By fitting one of only 35.5kWh, Mazda is able to pin the price of the entry-level model at £28,545. And that’s without the PICG being deducted so when deliveries start next March you’ll be able to put an MX-30 on your drive for £25,545.
The company also argues that the more battery capacity you add, the more the weight of the vehicle increases and therefore the more energy it will use.
The MX-30 weighs in at 1,650kg which isn’t a lot heavier than a conventionally powered SUV and is lighter than most if not all of its electric SUV rivals. Less weight should also make the car better to drive and more fun.
So let’s step inside this interesting newcomer. The cabin feels spacious and uncluttered.
In front of you is a clean dashboard design that features an 8.8in infotainment screen and a 7.0in screen for the heating and ventilation system.
Thankfully, there are plenty of conventional controls for adjusting settings and a rotary controller on the centre console for the infotainment system.
Mazda first started as a cork producer so it’s a neat touch that it’s used cork as a trim material on the console.
The seats are upholstered in environmentally friendly materials, too.
The rear doors make slotting children into the back seats easier. There’s not a huge amount of space in the back but it’s more than adequate for a couple of adults.
It’s slightly claustrophobic because the rear windows aren’t that big but at least there’s the option of a full-length sliding sunroof.
The boot, meanwhile, is an acceptable 366 litres with 1,171 litres available when the rear seats are folded flat.
The MX-30, thanks to its relatively low weight, certainly feels more alive than many EVs. Don’t think of it as an SUV version of the MX-5 sports car, but it is pleasant to drive.
It’s best to have a light touch on the accelerator or you’ll soon chomp through the available range.
There are paddles behind the steering wheel that select five levels of energy recuperation with the strongest allowing you to almost drive the car with only your right foot.
If you lift the MX-30’s bonnet you’ll see that there’s a lot of space under it. That’s because Mazda is planning to build a version of the MX-30 that uses a small rotary engine as a range extender.
That is Mazda really doing it differently – and that promises to be a very interesting car.
Whether you put the Mazda MX-30 on your shopping list very much depends on whether you think a maximum range of 124 miles is sufficient, and whether its arguably lower impact on the environment (and your wallet) are factors that can justify its purchase.
Whatever, we need companies like Mazda to throw different arguments into the ring and come up with
Mazda MX-30 First Edition SUV
Engine: Single electric motor, 143bhp
0-62 mph: 9.7 sec
Range: 124 miles
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MG ZS EV Exclusive
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Peugeot e-2008 GT Line
Very attractive and 211-mile range is a big selling point.