The RX-8’s spirit lives on in Mazda’s first electric vehicle
|driving.ca 22 Oct 2019 at 22:43|
Well, for one thing the MX-30 breaks from the EV orthodoxy that says the cure for range anxiety is bigger batteries. In its current guise, its 355- volt battery tops out at 35.5 kWh, which, though Mazda has not released final figures, should be good for 200 kilometres or so of all-electric motoring. That should be more than enough for most people’s daily commutes, even those commuting into large urban centres from suburban outreaches.
But instead of offering bigger batteries for those looking for inter city travel, Mazda is adding a range-extending, gasoline-fed engine so that the current lack of a recharging infrastructure. And not just any range extender, but a rotary engine — the likes last seen in the company’s RX-8 sports coupe. Not only is the Wankel engine more compact, affording the MX-30 generous cabin space, but held at a constant rpm (as generators are wont to do) rotaries can prove quite frugal. In other words, the MX-30 looks to be the EV the world needs — enough electric range to motor daily without emissions and a convenient range extender for long-distance motoring — if not the EV it desires.
Another takeaway from the RX-8 is the MX-30’s rear ‘suicide’ doors — Mazda calls them freestyle — that open from the rear. Like the RX-8’s, they are smaller than traditional rear doors but open a ingress/egress-aiding 80 degrees. Looks wise, Mazda says the MX-30 shows off its new “Human Modern” design. What they really mean is that it’s a slightly European take on the classic sport-cute. For those looking for current offering to judge the MX-30 against, the new Mazda is about the same size as Kia’s Niro.
Inside, the cabin is perhaps — that should be read easily — the best yet crafted by Mazda. Pretty much all the controls — even the air conditioning system — are now touchscreen controlled, the dashboard is ultra “clean” with barely a switch of button to interrupt its horizontal flow, and Mazda has trotted out some Heritage Cork trim to highlight the MX-30’s greenness.
We will be getting the MX-30 in the second half of 2020, and pointing out the importance of Canada to Mazda and its EV aspirations — I suspect the former should be read avoiding penalties from Quebec’s ZEV mandate — we will be one of the first three markets to receive MX-30s.
Well, that depends on how pretentious and gullible you are. If you fall for the Elon Musk logic that anything short of a pure EV is climate change denial and that one needs at least 500 kilometres of range to be considered a real EV, then I don’t think the MX-30 is for you.
But if you’re looking for a pragmatic solution to the automobile’s future, the MX-30 — with its rotary range extender — will let you cut 80 per cent of your greenhouse gas emissions (and your monthly gasoline bill) while having the combined convenience of charging at home and gassing up quickly on the highway. From that perspective, it might be the best thing going.