Mazda MX 30 launch report by Steve Rogers
It would be easy to write off Mazda's new electric car before hitting the starter button.
Why? Because Mazda has pegged the range for MX-30 to just 124 miles. Deliberately.
That sounds nonsensical, even suicidal, when rivals are busting a gut to extend the range of electric cars yet Mazda has a plan and two good reasons for the decision.
The carbon footprint of an electric car is not as low as we might imagine when disposal of the battery packs comes into play - the bigger the battery pack the more harm to the environment - so Mazda has gone for a smaller 35.5kWh pack, hence the reduced range, but fewer nasties floating around when the time comes to get rid of them.
Secondly a lighter battery pack doesn't take so much away from the car's handling and that is important to sporty minded Mazda which has bestowed the MX badge to its family crossover. This is no MX-5 but by EV standards MX-30 is super to drive, agile, nimble and genuine fun.
So a car full of surprises, but here is the biggest. Remember the rear-hinged door on the 2003 RX-8 sports coupe? That same pillarless design has been incorporated into MX-30 and helps give the car such a clean profile. Vauxhall did it with the Meriva and there is the Rolls-Royce Phantom although that has a centre pillar.
It is novel and worked well on the RX-8 because the back seats were rarely used but that won't be the case here. Getting in is a bit tight unless the front seat is tilted forward although once in there is enough leg and wiggle room although a bit claustrophobic because of the small amount of glass.
There is a vegan feel to the cabin with recycled materials. You will spot a lot of cork lining the centre console and around the door handles, a nod to Mazda's beginnings in 1920 as a cork manufacturer, while some of the door trim is made from the fibres of plastic bottles. Even the leather is fake.
Yet there is a distinctly premium feel to the cabin considering this is one of the cheaper electric cars starting at £25,545 after taking off the £3k government grant. The dashboard is devoid of switches with everything channelled through a top mounted screen operated from a rotary controller behind the gearstick and is easy to use.
A 7 inch touchscreen at the base of the centre console takes care of the permanently displayed heating and ventilation controls. That works well too.
The driver's display is a mix of traditional and modern with three large dials, the central speedometer computer generated and calibrated to just 100mph (top speed is 87mph) with the speed limit clearly shown in red, and there's a head up display option all helping to keep you on the right side of the law.
With 271Nm of torque coming on the moment pedal hits the metal the MX-30 is a tearaway off the line, that's the beauty of an electric car, you can even spin the front wheels for an adrenalin rush!
But EV driving is all about getting the maximum range and that is where regenerative braking helps by putting miles back into the battery on the move. Mazda uses steering wheel mounted paddles for the four levels of engine braking and with practice the brake pedal is only needed to come to a dead stop. It makes you a more considerate and careful driver, is excellent for slowing at junctions, and prolongs the life of the brake discs and pads.
There is a three model line up, well equipped from the starting SE-L Lux with the range topping Sport Tech (£29,845) fully loaded with Bose 12 speaker sound system, 360 degree camera view, heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats among the highlights.
The 350 run 1st Edition model at £27,495 might be worth a punt with its generous spec and if you order any of the models by the end of March you get a free home charging wall box which I think is essential.
Mazda accepts some people will turn their noses up at MX-30s low mileage range but in reality will only hinder those making longer journeys, it certainly makes sense as a second car.
With a caravan on the drive an electric car is a no-no for me but if I had to buy one tomorrow the MX-30 would be top of the list. I loved it.
MX-30 GT Sport Tech
Electric motor 143bhp
0-62mph 9.7secs; 87mph
Range 124 miles
Battery warranty 8 years
Emissions/ road tax: Zero
Insurance group 19
Boot: 341 litres