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Mazda moves into the EV market

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Mazda moves into the EV market

Rapid charge time but limited driving range, upmarket style but comfortable feel — BRUCE McMAHON finds Mazda’s first all-electric vehicle an enigma.

The MX-30, around $70,000 on-road, has a price tag comparable to Hyundai’s extended-range electric Kona and others rolling into this niche of SUV-style machines without tailpipes.

Yet, where many in this bracket work around a driving range of 400km and more, the MX-30’s is more like 200km and maybe a bit.

While most of today’s EVs (Electric Vehicles) go-to-whoa power can shove a driver back in the seat, this Mazda is gentle.

Where others drive like a dodgem car at the Ekka – lifting off the accelerator bringing on abrupt braking – the Mazda is far more considered, more like a conventional petrol-engined car.

Mazda’s idea of running with a smaller 35.5kWh battery, compared with the 60-75kWh batteries in some rivals, is that this is quite sufficient for a town car and helps save on the environmental cost of the batteries.

It also means less charging time.

A rapid charge, 50kW station can reportedly have the MX-30 from 20 to 80 per cent in 36 minutes, while a 7kW home charger will take five hours for a full charge. That’s about half the time of a 70kWh battery. Still, a range just over 200km wouldn’t get you from Brisbane to Noosa and back without a re-charge.

Plus, this Mazda isn’t a huge vehicle. It’s more for couples than families.

It looks good though, inside and out, with back doors hinged at the rear, a la the Mazda RX-8 sports car.

There’s a premium, grown-up feel throughout the cabin which includes sustainable materials such as cork for some finishes.

Of course, there’s the usual array of today’s comfort, convenience and safety features to keep a driver, and occupants, calm and controlled.

Yet all this upmarket style and the Mazda badge, may not convince everyone that the asking price here isn’t a bit steep for a car with a driving range limited to 200km or so.

But wait, there’s more …

The Mazda MX-30 is a much nicer car to drive than many EV rivals.

It has a more cohesive bridge between old (internal combustion engines) and new (electric motors) and there are a number of matters which make an old bloke feel more at home.

The gear selector is more involving by the simple business of having to shift the lever into park, rather than pushing buttons.

Then there’s the little bit of artificial engine noise piped through the stereo.

Out and about, the MX-30 may not be as supercar-smart off the line as some EVs yet it’s quick enough and there isn’t that on-off abruptness of coming off the accelerator.

Through paddle-shifters, there is the opportunity to increase the amount of electric motor braking, and regenerative charging, to some degree.

And where others of these compact to medium-sized EVs can be a tad roly-poly in handling and road-holding traits (some built on re-purposed SUV platforms), the Mazda is a far more composed machine, more engaging to drive than most in this class, as befitting that Zoom-Zoom marketing.

Perhaps the Mazda MX-30 won’t have widespread market appeal, but this is quite an appealing, albeit expensive, electric car.

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