Let's play a quick game of word association, shall we? When I say "Mazda," what are the first things that come to mind?
Odds are good you thought of at least one of these words: "Miata," "Mazdaspeed," "fun," "affordable," and if you have a good memory for TV ads, "zoom-zoom" (which in turn might have lead you to "creepy kid").
One phrase you likely didn't think of, however: "electric cars." That's because Mazda, well, doesn't really sell any, at least here in the States. No hybrids, either. Thanks to a lineup largely comprised of small cars and powered entirely by four-cylinder engines, there's much less pressure on Mazda to find ways to reduce its average fleet emissions through hybrids and EVs than there is for, say, Ford.
In other markets, though, it's a different story. Venture to Japan or Europe, and you'll find a battery-powered model up for grabs: the MX-30. And 2021 has brought a piece of good news for those of us whose Venn diagrams of "things we like" include circles for Mazda and EVs alike: as The Detroit Bureau discovered and Car and Driver confirmed, the MX-30 will soon be coming to the U.S. Here's why we're stoked.
The MX-30, at least abroad, comes in two versions: a pure electric vehicle and an EV with a gas-powered engine that operates as a generator to extend the range. The PHEV version's specs remain up in the air — Mazda hasn't started building that one yet — but the pure electric one packs a 36-kWh battery pack connected to a 144-hp electric motor driving the front wheels.
If that battery sounds small, well, it is. The EV version of the MX-30 is rated for just 124 miles of driving, and that's using the generous WLTP range estimate; the EPA range rating would likely come in close to 100 miles. As such, Car and Driver is speculating Mazda might outfit the car with a larger battery for U.S. consumption, but that's all hypothetical for now.
At least, the design is. As you can plainly see here, the MX-30 packs a pair of conventional doors up front and a pair of backwards-opening half-doors (the type that used to be called "suicide doors" in a less politically correct time) for the second row, just like the RX-8.
That's not the only way it takes after the RX-8, however. That range-extending gas engine in the PHEV version? Yeah, it's a rotary, just like the RX-8 and the RX-7 before it. Rotaries make for very good range-extending engines, as it turns out.
This being a Mazda, the MX-30 should still be more enjoyable to drive than your average car; the carmaker may have ditched the zoom-zoom tagline, but it still takes pride in ensuring its cars boast what it calls the "jinba-ittai driving experience," with the Japanese words translating to "person [and] horse [as] one body."
The interior, likewise, largely resembles other Mazdas, but it makes a few changes to help set it apart from its internal-combustion brethren. The shifter is an electronic unit, freeing up room to create a floating center console; and instead of leather or pleather, the interior is upholstered in fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, which Mazda says is both tough and soft at once.
As for when we'll see the MX-30 in American showrooms, well, that remains to be seen. Mazda hasn't given a debut date yet, just said that it'll be coming here; it could be later this year, it could be in 2022, or even later. Nevertheless, you can bet that we'll be adding this to our list of electric cars we're excited to drive soon.
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