Electrification has not been a primary interest at Mazda. Efficiency? Yes, SKYACTIV technology. Family friendliness? Yep, with four crossover/SUVs of varying stripes. Performance? Well, yeah, Mazdas are fun to drive and the MX-5 Miata is a perennial sports car favorite, plus the brand is competitive in all sorts of racing.
There clearly hasn’t been any urgency to embrace electrification at Mazda, even as most of its competitors have done so. The brand has dabbled, though. There was a Miata EV concept in the 1990s and a short-lived Demio EV demonstration project in Japan back in 2012, but little else. Now things have changed.
Enter the 2022 Mazda MX-30, a model representing the first step in this automaker’s journey toward electrification. Aimed initially at the California market this fall with a likelihood of expanding to other ‘green’ states, the electrified crossover is powered by a 144 horsepower electric motor with 200 lb-ft torque driving the front wheels. Energy is provided by a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Mazda has not provided U.S. range estimates for its new electric, though the MX-30 is rated at delivering 124 miles of single-charge driving range on the European WLTP testing cycle. Translating that to the more conservative EPA testing cycle is not a science, but you could reasonably conclude that a full battery would deliver about 100 miles of driving on U.S. roads.
Yes, that’s pretty limited range given the direction of new electric vehicle offerings in the U.S., which skew toward 200 miles of driving range or better, courtesy of larger battery packs. Charging via a standard 220-volt wall charger is convenient and assures that when you’re home for the night, just plug in and you’ll have a full charge in the morning. If you’re on the road or just want to pick up additional range while out, plugging into a rapid-charger will bring the battery from 20 to 80 percent charge in about 36 minutes.
Mazda has more in store for the MX-30 beyond this initial all-electric version. Coming later is a range-extended variant featuring the addition of Mazda’s signature rotary engine, with this powerplant operating exclusively as a rotary generator that creates electricity to augment battery power. This, in effect, creates a series-hybrid electric MX-30 with the ability to motor on long after battery power is gone.
Inside the handsome cabin is a floating center console with an electronic shifter and command knob. A 7-inch display is provided and flanked by controls. Adding to the new model’s innovations are rear doors that are hinged at the rear and swing outward at the front.
A handy MyMazda app allows locking doors, monitoring state-of-charge, and adjusting climate controls via a user’s cellphone. A full suite of the automaker’s i-Activsense safety and driver assist systems will be offered, though details about this and the model’s suggested retail price have not yet been revealed.
The MX-30 represents the first of Mazda’s electrification thrust, with a hybrid crossover option coming and a plug-in hybrid variant to be offered in a new large-platform SUV. All promise expected Mazda driving dynamics courtesy of an enhanced SKYACTIVE vehicle architecture.