The new normal
Electric cars distinguish themselves with their technology. Therefore, before there is even a word about space, comfort or safety, whole chapters have already been devoted to range, performance and battery capacity. These things are important for engineers, but for the motorist, other issues come into play.
A different approach
That is why Mazda took a different approach to developing the MX-30. The designers started by talking to customers. These did not ask what kind of car they wanted, but what was the problem the car was supposed to solve. Around the wishes, a car was then designed. This also took into account environmental friendliness from production to the end of the car's life.
As the MX-30 will be the first electric car for many buyers, Mazda wanted to make the threshold as low as possible. That is why it did not opt for a futuristic design from the wind tunnel, but rather a rugged look. The MX-30 is an SUV because there was a lot of demand for easy entry and high seating. Thanks to elements such as the roof in a contrasting colour and the protective edges on the sides, the MX-30 appears less tall. The rear doors open against the direction of travel and a B-pillar is missing. As a result, the MX-30 looks like a three-door coupé, while access to the interior is more spacious.
The interior is innovative but at the same time familiar. For example, at the end of its lifecycle, the MX-30 is 95% recyclable and recycled materials have been used wherever possible. For example, Mazda uses vegan leather, which, according to the manufacturer, already achieves more for the environment than many thousands of kilometres of electric driving. The grey part of the upholstery is made from recycled PET bottles. Also note the use of cork in the centre tunnel and on the door panels: this is a hint at Mazda's origins, which once began as a cork manufacturer. Not despite, but because of these materials, the interior's atmosphere is warm and inviting.
Space in the front is fine. Despite the easy entry to the rear, legroom in the rear is moderate. Luggage space is reasonable, but certainly not as large as other SUVs of this size. This is not because of the batteries, but because of the sloping rear end.
The equipment is exactly as can be expected in this price range. The MX-30 is equipped with all the usual luxury and safety features. Here again, a balance has been sought between the familiar and the innovative. For instance, the info panel behind the steering wheel consist of a central display surrounded by analogue gauges. The climate control system has its own display, surrounded by traditional buttons.
The audio, communication and navigation system is operated via a wide screen that sits on top of the dashboard. Its operation sometimes requires some searching, but in the end it offers all standard functionality (including support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto). Autozine often criticises audio systems from Bose, but in the MX-30 this too has been rethought. Thanks to a different speaker placement and more harmonious fine-tuning, the sound of the optional Bose audio system is quite creditable.
In many electric cars, all available space has been used to accommodate the largest possible battery. Although the MX-30's platform can accommodate a large battery, Mazda has deliberately chosen a relatively small battery (35.5 kWh). This is for three reasons: it makes the car lighter, more economical and less environmentally damaging.
Another special feature: Mazda expects that for most buyers, the MX-30 will be their first electric car. Therefore, efforts have been made to give the MX-30 the character of an internal combustion engine car wherever possible. This sounds illogical, as a major reason for choosing an electric car is the superior character of an electric motor.
And rest assured: Mazda exploits the benefits of electric propulsion to the full, but merely opts for a different presentation. Like any other electric car, the MX-30 has its full power at the ready, for a quick start at traffic lights and more agility than even the best internal combustion engine. However, the MX-30 does not do the job in perfect silence, but produces a light, artificial rumble in the background (which cannot be switched off). This would give the driver the familiar feeling that work is going on under the bonnet. It is also said to reduce motion sickness in passengers, as the engine noise would allow them to better predict what the car is going to do.
Levers behind the steering wheel can be used to control how strongly the car decellerates when releasing the accelerator or how eagerly it responds to the accelerator. This allows one to choose between strong decelleration when releasing the pedal to stronger acceleration when depressing the pedal. Despite the fact that performance is not impressive on paper (0-100 km/h in 9.7 seconds, top speed 140 km/h), in practice the MX-30 is nicely fierce and the car never lacks power.
Range and charging
On paper, the MX-30 can travel 200 km (WLTP) on a full battery. During the test drive, under favourable weather conditions but with a wanton driving style, this was even just over 200 km. If charging can be done at home, this is more than enough. Those who have to charge on the street and search daily for a free charging point (or are forced to stop at expensive fast chargers along the road) will find this a significant drawback.
The battery is liquid-cooled, with air-conditioning ducts running from the interior to the batteries. The MX-30 can charge at a rate of 6.6 kW on alternating current (charging time about 4.5 hours). Fast charging is also possible, and at 50 kW.
Its relatively small battery makes for a lower purchase price, but its biggest advantage is its superior handling. Although the MX-30 is heavier than a comparable internal combustion engine SUV, the extra weight is in the ideal place: centrally under the car.
Even the best SUV is never as stable as a traditional hatchback because of its tall build. And an electric car, because of its high weight, always has a longer braking distance and has to manage more weight when cornering. With the MX-30, Mazda has managed to turn those disadvantages into advantages. The MX-30 is more stable than any other SUV in this segment, and on the upside, livelier. Just as the handling of a coupé is superior to that of a hatchback, the MX-30 is superior to a conventional SUV. In this way, the driver not only feels at home in the MX-30, but this electric car is accepted as the new normal.
Engineers often think in solutions, but not infrequently forget to first identify the problems to be solved with their technology. Many electric cars are therefore like show pieces of the technology that manufacturers have in store. They impress the driver with futuristic design and crushing performance. But not everyone is into that or wants to pay for it. Mazda shows with the MX-30 that things can be different.
Mazda therefore started by identifying customer needs and requirements and built a car around them. Moreover, Mazda looked not only at the environmental impact during the car's useful life, but from production to the end of its life. The result is a practical family car with an unusually small battery. The latter is not a disadvantage in practice, but actually an advantage (if charging can be done at home). Thanks to the small battery, the MX-30 is less environmentally harmful in production and much cheaper to buy. The biggest advantage is in the driving characteristics: thanks to its relatively low weight, the MX-30 is above-average quick, lively and stable.
Finally, Mazda makes every effort to give the MX-30 the familiar character of an internal combustion engine car wherever possible. In this way the driver experiences the MX-30 as a very ordinary car, but one with many advantages. The new normal!
- Low costs per kilometre
- Well-thought-out concept
- Lively, stable and confident handling
- Moderate space in the back
- Artificial engine noise cannot be switched off
- Limited range only acceptable if home charger is available