Mazda MX-30 – Illuminating

Ian Lamming has a lightbulb moment as he drives Mazda’s new electric SUV.

IT’S a bold statement and quite unexpected at the launch of a new, fully electrical vehicle.

According to Mazda, electric vehicles are not the panacea for the world’s CO2 woes, that will come from a technology yet to be decided.

Until then, the answer lies in a combination of EVs and very, very efficient petrol motors. It’s honest, it is bold and, when you actually think about, it is right.

If you pack in the miles, like I do, EVs are going to bring you nothing more than range anxiety and unnecessary stress. Mazda’s answer to this is either move closer to home or buy a petrol.

But if you do live locally EVs are genius, simple, delightful and they actually take the stress out of life. This is because Mazda’s research shows that most people travel, on average, just 26 miles a day, so a huge range shouldn’t be needed. If you do require more, then plump for petrol.

So on the face of it Mazda’s brand new EV, the MX-30, has a range that is limited for people like me. The claimed 124 mile range would only just get me to school and back – as, bizarrely, I do live 62 miles from the school gates – and this would plummet if you ever approached the MX-30s top speed of 87mph. If I travelled at ‘city’ speeds then I could expect 165 miles. But who drives this carefully on the throttle? Not me.

But my lifestyle is not how sensible old Mazda thinks the new MX-30 will be used. It believes owners will trundle around the locality safe in the knowledge that they can charge it up overnight, which is why the MX-30 comes with a free home wall charger to zap it back to life.

Big bore 50kw + rapid charges, like those at the supermarket, will pump life back into the MX-30 very quickly taking it from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in just 36 minutes, which is great.

And this takes us back to the whys and wherefores of the MX-30. It has limited range and power because Mazda has chosen to go down the small battery route. This means that CO2 levels in the production process are lower than big heavy and more powerful units. It also shows an appreciation of the eventual disposal of the vehicle and all its associated CO2 issues.

Being light comes with some excellent spin offs when it comes to driving the MX-30. The battery weighs just 310kg, the total weight is a mere 1,645kg, very light for an EV and the overall result is a very nippy and agile mover that is a whole lot of fun to drive.

There is as bit of noise from the motor, no more than a hum really, which makes you think you are in a conventional fuel-powered SUV, but it is uber smooth and pick-up is rapid. It does feel light, in a good way, and the sharp steering and excellent suspension leave you appreciating how nimble and fun to drive MX-30 is.

Strangely, it doesn’t look as modern and sleek as it SUV cousins, CX-5, CX-3, CX-30, mainly because there is no need for a deep front grille as there’s no combustion engine up front that needs cooling. It does have a funky-ish air that screams ‘I’m something different’ and picking the right colour is absolutely essential.

In some hues it can look ordinary while the two-tone roof/bodywork combo really does have a massive impact on its appearance.

Speaking of funky, there are also rears doors that open rearward – remember the RX-8’s? like those – which allow for easy entry into the back as the opening is pillar-free.

Inside has that high quality, tactile feel that Mazda’s is renowned for. There’s a feeling that it is built to last forever – which should also help with the CO2 levels.

The infotainment centre and central tunnel mounted control knob will be familiar to anyone who has driven a Mazda recently and, in homage to the 100-year-old company’s cork business roots, the designers have employed the sustainable tree product to liven up the interior trim, which it does nicely. These are off-cuts from the bottle-stopper business. Well, waste not want not, eh? The cork trim sets off the recycled plastic bottle door materials too – how things have changed in the past century.

Believe it or not – and why would I lie – Mazda started exploring EVs 50 years ago with the EX005, a micro car for the city. Today, more than half of total sales are SUVs so it makes perfect sense that MX-30 has gone down this particular avenue.

What’s important is that it is an SUV with a specific purpose, namely to fill a gap, and given this aim is to slow down the destruction of the planet until better technology comes along, that’s no bad thing.

Fact File

Mazda MX-30

Engine: Electric

Power: 145PS, 271Nm torque

0-62mph: 9.7 secs

Top speed: 87mph

Range: 124-165 miles

Transmission: Auto

CO2 g/km: 0

Price: from £28,545 to £32,845 (minus £3,000 Government grants) k