New Mazda MX-30 electric SUV revealed: prototype drive and full details

New Mazda MX-30 debuts in Tokyo as an EV but hybrid and plug-in versions of the SUV are planned

This is the Mazda MX-30, the company’s first pure-electric vehicle and the star of its Tokyo Motor Show stand.

The car being shown in Japan is a pure- EV, but the new SUV’s underpinnings are able to support a wide range of powertrains. Under the bonnet there’s room for not only the electric motor driving the front wheels but also a rotary engine that neatly bolts on to it, along with a generator.

• More from the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show

This means that the MX-30 can be offered in three different configurations. This pure-electric model comes with a 35.5kWh battery that Mazda claims will deliver a range of ‘more than 200km’ [125 miles].

The same battery can be retained in a range-extender version that also has a fuel tank and the rotary engine. These models will come with 50kW fast-charge capability. Finally there’s scope for a closed hybrid that has a larger fuel tank again, but a smaller battery designed to support short bursts of pure-electric running.

The car’s design has echoes of other Mazda SUVs, including the CX-30, although the MX-30 has a different grille and a squarer shoulder line at the top of the wheelarches.

There’s also the same reverse-hinged rear doors that featured on the RX-8 sports car. These should help to increase the opening ahead of the rear wheels – although they also mean back-seat passengers won’t be able to get out without the front door being opened.

We know that the MX-30’s electric powertrain will offer 141bhp and 265Nm – stats that look more ‘real world’ than the 402bhp of Volvo’s XC40 Recharge. Given the size and likely weight of the MX-30, we’d expect a 0-62mph time of between eight and 10 seconds; the top speed is likely to be around 100mph.

There’s no word yet on pricing. But the relatively modest battery and lack of ultra-rapid charging should help Mazda to keep the MX-30 in roughly the same bracket as the similarly sized CX-30. That could give the pure-electric version of the car a list price of around £30,000, before any government discounts. The MX-30 is expected to launch in Japan within the next 12 months, although UK sales aren’t likely to commence before the start of 2021.

We drive the MX-30 prototype 

Mazda’s prototype for the MX-30 features a CX-30 bodyshell on top – but underneath, it’s a good indicator of how some of the car’s novel features will work in practice. And we’ve been able to have a 30-mile run in the car.

The first thing you realise when you pull away is that the MX-30 feels more like a conventionally powered car than an electric one. The power and torque outputs are relatively modest in a car of this size. So while the initial throttle response is there, you simply don’t get that hot hatch-beating surge that comes in EVs like the BMW i3.

There’s noise, too – a faint bit of electric motor whine from deep down below you, but also Mazda’s EV Sound, which uses synthesized audio to represent how much of the car’s torque you’re currently calling upon. It’s an interesting noise more than an appealing one – a bit like a distant electric guitar – but while we’d be tempted to switch it off around town, we can see how it could add a bit of extra involvement if you’re getting hasty along a B-road.

The standout quality is the Mazda’s brake pedal modulation. The transition between braking energy regeneration and the conventional pads and discs is exceptional, and perhaps the best of any EV we’ve yet sampled.

More controversially, you’ll be forced to use that left-hand pedal, because the car won’t bring itself to a halt on energy recuperation alone.

The rest of the package is typical Mazda, with a ride that borders on firm but just about gets away with it. We’ll have to wait to try the properly bodied model before making a call on refinement at speed, though. 

So the MX-30 feels much like a conventional car in lots of ways. That, in the end, could be one of its trump cards.

Read the full Mazda e-TPV prototype review here…

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