05 November 2019
Hutt News, Wellington by Damien O'Carroll
Although Mazda is decidedly cool on the overall environmental benefits of EVs, (arguing that on a "well to wheel" basis it's more effective to improve combustion engine technology), the latest model in the company's new-generation line up (the recent Mazda 3 being the first) also happens to be its first EV.
And, current tastes being as they are, it is - of course - an SUV.
But it happens to be a sporty SUV crossover that shares its underpinnings with the new CX30, its naming structure with the MX-5 and packs hints of the RX-8.
While we drove a prototype disguised as a CX-30 earlier this year, Mazda has just revealed a final production version of the EV - called the MX-30 - at the Tokyo Motor Show and it boasts a stylish new look that is distinctly different from the CX-30 it is based on, with its RX-8-style "freestyle" doors.
The introduction of the Mazda 3 earlier this year marked the beginning of a new phase for Mazda's Kodo design and the MX30 expands on it with a new, more squared-off look, albeit one with a same distinctive lack of traditional feature lines as the Mazda 3.
And, from a personal perspective, it works particularly well, with the MX-30 being both distinctly a Mazda as well as being distinctly different from every other Mazda, including the 3.
Mazda says its design team paid particular attention to selecting the right materials for the interior and "showing them in ways that bring out their best."
The materials used in the cabin are low-impact and sustainable the door trim uses fibres made from recycled plastic bottles and the cork used in the console tray is harvested from the bark of trees without cutting them down.
The cork is also a nice nod to Mazda's origins as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company - a manufacturer of corks that moved into tools, then eventually motor vehicles.
A 7-inch touch panel is used to control the HVAC system (for the first time in a Mazda vehicle) and also welcomes drivers getting into the car with a graphic that Mazda says changes along with the external environment and offers "an interactive experience designed to bring people closer to their car".
The MX-30 introduces Mazda's new e-Skyactiv electric drivetrain and combines an advanced EVspecific version of the company's G-Vectoring Control (e-GVC Plus) to provide "natural feedback" that the company says is afforded by "precise torque control and sound that lets the driver know exactly what the car is doing."
Yes, you read that right: sound.
The MX-30 will make a sound as it moves. While the final mix is yet to be settled on, the MX-30's sound will be derived from the electric motor and rise in intensity as torque increases.
Mazda says the MX-30 strengthens its i-Activsense advanced safety technology suite with new functionality added aimed at helping to prevent collisions at intersections and lane-keeping technology designed to help keep drivers on track on roads with no lane markings, using kerbs or discernable edges instead.
In terms of size, the MX-30 is identical in length, width and wheelbase to the forthcoming CX30 it is based on (4395mm long, 1795mm wide and with a 2655mm wheelbase), but is 30mm taller at 1570mm.
By way of comparison, the larger CX-5 is 4550mm long, 1840mm wide, 1675mm high, with a 2700mm wheelbase, while the smaller CX-3 is 4275mm long, 1765mm wide, 1535mm high and sits on a 2570mm wheelbase.
The MX-30 sits on Macpherson strut suspension at the front, with a torsion beam set up at the rear, while its 105kW/265Nm watercooled AC synchronous electric motors are powered by a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery. It supports CHAdeMo and Combo spec DC charging, as well as up to 6.6kW AC charging.
While the 35.5kWh battery might seem small compared with other EVs (the recently upgraded Hyundai Ioniq packs a 38.3kWh battery, while the Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh battery and the Hyundai Kona boasts a 64kWh battery), it is line with Mazda's "every gram counts" approach to delivering a car that is great to drive, regardless of its motivating power.
"While this model is an EV, Mazda's human-centric development philosophy remains unchanged," said Mazda's president and chief executive, Akira Marumoto, at the reveal of the MX-30.
"It offers the same smooth and natural Jinba-ittai driving feel as our combustion engine-powered cars."
Marumoto also reinforced Mazda's commitment to feature the company's e-Skyactiv electricdrive technology in every car it makes by 2030, as well as its regional approach to offering different powertrains, depending on what is most suitable.
"We will push forward with our strategy of offering multiple solutions in light of each country or region's energy situation, power generation mix and the diversification of customer preferences."