Wait for it - Mazda

goes electric

Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, side, action
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, side, static
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, front
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, nose
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, front, action
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, front, static, sea
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, front, static
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, rear, action
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, cockpit
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, gear lever
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, dashboard
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, interior, front
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, rear seats
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, side, static, upright
Mazda MX-30 prototype, 2019, doors

MAZDA may be arriving a bit late at the EV party but the Japanese brand is confident that having seen what rivals have done so far plus their own deliberate and patient development of an all-electric car it will be all right on the night.

The problem for UK motorists is that they will have to wait until the early weeks of 2021 before they are able to get their hands on it although it will be available on mainland Europe by next summer with an expected price tag of 33,900 euros - around £29,000 at today's exchange rates.

In the meantime the Mazda engineers and technicians are fine tuning the new MX-30 EV currently disguising it in the body of the newly launched CX-30 SUV as it uses the same platform and is the same length.

The most noticeable difference to current EV rivals is that the MX-30 uses a much smaller battery - just 35.5 kWh compared to the apparent standard 95kWh - which with its development so far will offer 141bhp and a battery range of around 125 miles.

Mazda's backroom team are convinced using a smaller battery is the way forward because they claim to be looking long term at the lifecycle of the car as it produces fewer emissions than say a petrol powered Mazda3 and also fairs well compared to the bigger battery on rivals' EVs.

The smaller lithium-ion battery used in the MX-30 is a Japanese-made Panasonic and size-wise is the same as Honda is using in its new e-car which has an output of 134bhp and a range of 136 miles.

The new Mazda EV - certainly in its current prototype form - is different though in terms of driving because the torque is delivered in a more progressive manner and not instantly as in rival makes.

Drivers quickly discover that coasting and regeneration will become crucial elements of gaining the best return when out on the road.

Press the accelerator pedal and the car responds positively but without the sudden torque urge as on other EVs - it's a kind of a more subtle feel when accelerating with more feel for the driver and certainly a different experience.

Most current EVs are almost totally silent on the move but the Mazda EV is again different in that the engineers have added an artificial engine sound which you can hear inside the cabin once accelerating.

The development team is yet undecided whether to make the sound louder and more pronounced - or stop it altogether. My view is to leave it as it is now which is pleasant and subtle enough to do the job.

Regenerating the battery is different too. When de-accelerating there's little recharging happening from the accelerator pedal but most comes when the foot brake is applied.

There's clearly some homework to do in this area because on the prototype when driven down the steeper roads the brakes juddered slightly and were not quite as smooth and re-assuring. The same applied when driving over a couple of sections of cobbled streets.

Out on normal roads and at normal speeds this EV handles in fine fashion and is fairly predictable.

There's little doubt that once the Mazda team have fine tuned everything it will be a worthy contender in the growing sector of battery powered cars.

When it does arrive the MX-30 will have an enhanced version of Mazda's G-Vectoring Control system to improve the car's handling. It also allows the driver more torque control with an electric motor compared to a normal combustion engine.

The shape of the new MX-30, revealed at the recent Toyko Motor Show, shows its to be a crossover with nice, uncluttered body lines but with no door pillar which follows on from the RX-8 body style of a few years ago with the back doors opening rearwards.

As for future electric/hybrid cars from the Mazda stable engineers confirm that an MX-30 rotary engine inspired version is en route as a range extender which will also have reduced recharging times and again feature interior materials made from recycled plastics with even the door handles having a layer of recycled cork on the inside.

First impressions of this first Mazda EV are good even though the engineering team admits there's still some work to do before the car actual goes public next summer.

With it's low centre of gravity the MX-30 certainly drives differently than existing rivals but when it does arrive in Britain in just over a year's time one crucial element will be its pricing.

Keeping it around the £30,000 mark and still including the current government's £3,500 grant - if that is still in place by then - will be important.

Overall the MX-30 is an interesting new concept into the EV world and a chance for Mazda to show what it can do in this new world of electric powered motoring.

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