Is 150-180km of real world range enough?
Mazda will try to convince you it is. Its spiels proselytise romantically about “rightsizing”. A smaller battery is good for the earth, and good for your soul. This is the way, they say. It saves weight and, like the company so successfully achieves with the featherlight MX-5 sports car, puts you on the enlightened circle of virtue.
Their research says that the range is “more than enough for the vast majority of daily use”. Academically speaking, they’re probably right. So the short answer is, yes, it is enough.
The longer answer is a tougher sell. My fridge has enough food to last seven days even though the supermarket is downstairs. I have 12 rolls of toilet paper in reserve. My watch has a depth rating of 200m, and I don’t even swim!
Simply put, people like buffers. If you do not have your own private charger at home, the MX-30 is a non-starter. Nobody wants to sit at public charging stations for an hour every two days.
There is no denying that the car is a clever demonstration of high concept. Of course it is, for Mazda has always gone its own way. They have always seemed, more than any manufacturer, to have done things on sheer principle.
One gets the feeling the accountants are subordinate to the dreamers in this corporate entity. For the most part, this has allowed the company to become one of the most charmingly characterful entities in the volume car-making space.
Less is more is all well and good as a philosophy, but this time, have they outsmarted themselves?
BEYOND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Cars in the same price bracket are armed with much more impressive numbers. The Opel Mokka-e and Peugeot e-2008, both capable of travelling easily 100km more on a charge, are more sensibly packaged.
Then your eyes move down the spec sheet and realise that the MX-30 comes in at 1.7 tonnes, no lighter than the 1548 kg Peugeot and 1529kg Opel. Oh dear.
So, before you even head off to the showroom, the dice is loaded against the little electric SUV from Hiroshima.
Yet, like with the shy kid in the corner of the class, take off the mathematical hat, put in the effort to get to know her, and there is a universe of charm and delight to discover. Like a Kimono against a Giordano T-Shirt, the MX-30 stands apart. She is layered, artful, and beautiful.
There is a petite delicacy to the design that makes something like the e-2008 look fussy and busy by contrast. Almost ornamental in its prettiness, you could park one in the gardens of a ryokan (that’s one of those traditional Japanese spa resorts) and it would not look out of place next to the little stone stools, tinkling streams, and cherry blossoms.
Like a warm cup of cocoa, it may even look better on a dreary day than in the sun, so friendly and comforting is its disposition.
BRINGING ZEN IN
The story of the interior is written with the same tasteful restraint. The car industry’s informatics and electric revolution has tempted many manufacturers into garish extroversion.
Mazda has not risen to the bait. Again, we are met in here with a classy architecture full of thoughtful touches and wonderful details. Accents made out of heritage cork and breathable fibre are arranged elegantly in accordance with Mazda’s fastidiously considerate “human-centric” design philosophy.
The unusual door arrangement may seem like a faff but somehow the rear door hinges fall effortlessly to hand at the perfect height, making opening them to their impressive 80-degree angle a fluid and enjoyable action. Technology is easy on the eye, easy on the temperament, and easy to use.
A sense of natural harmony pervades the entire vehicle, and it is not long before my entire mood has settled into a contented state.
Squeeze the throttle, and we are off. Accelerative impetus is delivered progressively rather than in the frenzied snaps so characteristic of electric cars. This calm manner would not be appropriate in a MINI, a brand built almost entirely around the mental image of a hyper-caffeinated terrier puppy. Here, however, it is friendly and entirely in keeping with the MX-30’s geisha-like muted elegance.
This relative absence of explosive verve does mean that the pleasantly talented chassis can occasionally feel slightly underserved by the motors when trying to scrabble its way out of enthusiastically attacked bends.
Yet, at the risk of sounding like I am selling a flaw as a feature, the fact that the car does not leap forward like a startled rabbit actually works to its advantage.
The MX-30 glides down any road, straight or curvy, pockmarked or smooth, in that fluent, graceful way that Mazdas tend to. The car may be a porker on paper, but it certainly does not feel like it behind the wheel. If there is one thing Mazda is good at, it is making its vehicles feel intuitive and harmonious to drive.
The moderately assisted steering slips through its motion with just the right amount of feedback and resistance, and the control surfaces match the car’s flowing body motions perfectly, aided by a well-judged degree of give in the disciplined but forgiving suspension.
So, here is a car that calls for a considered evaluation. Give its charms the time they deserve to sink in, and you will discover an immensely likeable partner in your journey through the madding world.
Have you ever had that moment while furniture shopping, when you’ve sat down on an armchair and immediately gone: “AaaAaaAAaaahhhhhhhh. Yes. This is it. This has to be it.” The difference between a 99% comfortable and a 100% comfortable lounge chair is subtle but transcendent. That’s what on offer here.
The MX-30 is one of those cars that fills its driver with a genteel sense of wellbeing. The kind that might be the world’s solution to road rage.
If the car’s objective limitations exclude it from your lifestyle and circumstances, then fair enough, shop somewhere else. Otherwise, this could yet be one of the best, most beguilingly desirable electric driving experiences you can enjoy today.
Mazda MX-30 (A)
MOTOR AC permanent magnet synchronous
MAX POWER 143hp (107kW) at 4500-11,000rpm
MAX TORQUE 270.9Nm at 0-3243rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 83.1hp per tonne
0-100KM/H 9.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 140km/h
PRICE INCL. COE From $184,888
AGENT Trans Eurokars