Mazda begins production of its first pure EV this week

Mazda begins production of its first pure EV this week

Should be great to drive, but it'll need that rumoured range extender

EARLIER THIS week, Mazda began manufacturing its first ever pure electric car. The company will start UK deliveries of the MX-30 early in 2021, with an entry level price of £27,495. That will make it slightly more expensive than competitors such as the £26,845 Nissan Leaf, but much less than more upmarket alternatives such as the £35,350 BMW I3.

The small cross-over MX-30 features rear-hinged doors in the rear (like a BMW I3) and a sharply raked rear end. It’s more a sporting look than a traditional offroad profile. Its front-wheel drive chassis is powered by an AC synchronous electric motor with 145hp.

Relative to its competitors, the MX-30’s 35.5kWh battery is small, which also explains its uncompetitive 124 mile range on a full charge. Mazda claims that its battery strategy seeks to strike a balance between a range that it believes is adequate, and life-cycle C02 emissions that are as low as possible. And while that is a laudable ambition, range is still a major consideration for many EV buyers and that relatively low range may conspire to make the MX-30 a harder sell.

Hence, the persistent rumour, not explicitly denied by the company, that Mazda might eventually offer the MX-30 with a tiny range extending petrol motor (this would not power the wheels, but top up the battery). It’s thought that the company is looking at a rotary wankel (which Mazda famously used in past models like the RX-8) unit to pair with the MX-30’s battery powertrain. That would go a long way to alleviating concerns about range.

Mazda is renowned for making cars that are rewarding to drive. That is their stated goal for the MX-30, which shares its ‘MX’ prefix with the company’s flagship sports car, the MX-5. So the signs are good, and early reviews of prototypes by motoring journos have been positive.

The MX-30 continues the environmentally responsible theme in the interior, with materials such as cork and fabric incorporating fibres from recycled plastic bottles. As per its more sporting brief, the cockpit is, as Mazda describes it, ‘driver centric’. The cabin also features a floating centre console and a seven-inch touch-screen.

On a more practical note, customers ordering an MX-30 First Edition will qualify for a free wall box home charger. The car is equipped with both a Type 2 mode 2 charge cable for 3-pin plug charging and a Type 2 mode 3 charge cable for AC charging via home or public charge points. A DC socket allows for rapid charging up to 50Kw. In this mode a charging time of 30 to 40 minutes can deliver up to 80 per cent battery charge.

It’s a safe bet that the MX-30 will be a car that enthusiast drivers will enjoy. The bigger question, though, is how consumers will view that 124 mile range, especially as many EV competitors offer far more range. So, Mazda, bring on that range extender.

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