Mazda’s first all-electric model

24 October 2019

MAZDA is the latest car company to prepare to join the electric vehicle invasion as conventional combustion engines are increasingly being consigned to the history books.

Any car company that wants to stay in business will be forced to add electric vehicles to its line-up, with a wholesale move away from petrol and diesel engines within a few years.

Motor manufacturers are systematically unveiling their electric-powered offerings in order to comply with forthcoming legislations designed to reduce air pollution.

The latest is Mazda, with details of its first all-electric vehicle in the shape of a stylish mid-range SUV, which is about the same size as a Nissan Qashqai.

The newcomer has just been unveiled in pure electric guise, although it will be offered as a hybrid and also as a plug-in model in due course.

This means that it can be used with plug-in battery power only, a combination of rechargeable battery and engine, or with a battery pack that is charged automatically whilst driving.

The newcomer is based on the same platform as a number of other Mazda models, meaning that the pure electric concept will be able to be introduced throughout the range.

It is also designed in such a way that even more forms of power can be used, including possibly the sort of rotary engine that Mazda used years ago in its sports models.

These engines were flawed in their day, with poor economy and rotary tips that wore out, but technology has improved so much since then that the company believes there could now be a future for born-again rotary engines.

It is likely that such an engine would be allied to an electric motor to achieve the best of both worlds.

The all-electric model that Mazda has just unveiled uses a 35kWh battery that gives a maximum range of about 125 miles, creating a realistic return journey range in everyday conditions of about 50 miles.

In terms of performance there is likely to be acceleration to 60mph in about ten seconds, with a top speed in the region of 100mph, although using maximum performance in an all-electric vehicle drains the battery more quickly and reduces the range.

The only way to improve the range at present is to add the rotary engine, with the battery packs also benefitting from the usual fast-charge capacity available at some commercial charging points.

In terms of styling the MX-30 looks similar to the current CX-3.

However, in the case of the MX-30 there are the sort of rear-hinged rear doors that have appeared on other Mazda models, including the RX-7 sports model.

This means that the rear doors can only be opened whilst the front doors are open but the arrangement allows easier access to the rear seats.

At this early stage there is no indication of likely prices for the newcomer, which is not expected here before the end of next year.

However, the order book is now open for Mazda’s new small SUV model, which will cost up to £33,500 when it arrives here early next year.

The newcomer will bridge the gap between the current CX-3 and CX-5 ranges and will be known as the CX-30.

The entry-level version is the SkyActive-G model costing from £22,895, with the most expensive flagship version being the range-topping SkyActiv-X.

Looking a bit like a Mazda3 hatchback on steroids, the newcomer will be offered with a choice of five trim and equipment levels, with even the most basic SE-L boasting 16-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and heated door mirrors.

There is also air conditioning, electronic park brake, a seven-inch display ahead of the driver and an eight-inch central infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay.

Mid-range models are the SE-L Lux, which gain a reversing camera heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and an automatic tailgate plus keyless entry.

Higher up the range the standard kit includes larger-diameter wheels, chrome trim, darkened rear windows and a sunroof on some versions.

The GT Sport models get leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and an electric memory function to combine preferred settings for the driver’s seat, door mirrors and head-up display.

At the top of the pile is the GT Sport Tech with an around-vehicle camera system plus automatic operation of the accelerator, brakes and steering in traffic at crawl speeds.

Stealing a march over rival Nissan’s new Juke, the Mazda offers a choice of mild-hybrid power systems in addition to petrol engines.

There is a two-litre four cylinder petrol engine generating 120bhp of power and 215Nm of pulling power.

This unit is mated to six-speed manual or automatic transmission systems, with the option of any of the trim and equipment packages.

Performance figures are likely to be ten and a half seconds to reach 60mph, a top speed of 115mph, CO2 rating of 116g/km and average economy of 45mpg thanks to cylinder deactivation.

This a clever system that shuts down half of the engine when it is not needed, such as cruising on level ground at steady speeds.

For higher mileage drivers in search of slightly better performance there is the hybrid model that comes with a £1,500 price premium.

The two-litre engine is supercharged and mated to an electric motor to achieve a combined power output of 178bhp with 224Nm of torque, or pulling power.

This engine combination also comes with the manual and automatic transmission choices, plus the further option of all-wheel drive for better grip.

Performance is reckoned to be somewhat brisk, with a 0-60mph acceleration time of just eight and a half seconds, a top speed nudging 130mph, a CO2 rating of 105g/km and claimed economy of 48mpg.

In terms of size the new Mazda is 4,395mm long and 1795mm wide, with a boot capacity of 430 litres.

First deliveries are due in January 2020.