IT was always only going to be a matter of time before Mazda joined the electric revolution.
And for those who feel the Japanese manufacturer has arrived a tad late to the party, here’s a little timecheck.
The company first started looking at electricity as an eventual alternative to the combustion engine no less than 50 years ago.
Since then there has been a string of concept models that have led a path to the brand’s first mass-produced fully electric vehicle, the Mazda MX-30.
Better driving range, more public charging points and lower prices have all contributed to an increasing number of car makers hitting the road with their own contributions.
But the MX-30, which goes on sale this week, is in the perfect position to steal a march on its rivals.
For one thing it simply oozes style, which is no mean feat for a compact SUV, and brings some tantalisingly cool features to the table – including vegan-friendly interior materials.
Mazda actually started out as a cork manufacturer in Hiroshima in 1920 and a century later uses the once popular product on part of the centre console and door grips, while recycled plastic bottles are moulded with fibre for the upholstery fabrics.
In fact some of the colour coordinated seat fabrics use recycled thread and all the leather in the seats backs is artificial.
The MX-30 shares the same wheelbase as Mazda’s CX-30 model and sports the same coupe-like profile – an evolution of the company’s KODO design philosophy already responsible for several eye-catching models – giving it a sleek, sophisticated look.
So there’s plenty of room up front and fair space for rear seat passengers, though one of the car’s stand-out qualities does have a downside to it in the shape of the rear-hinged ‘freestyle’ doors. They look attractive but don’t make it easy to access the back seats.
Powering the MX-30 is a 35.3kWh battery giving it a range of 124 miles on a single charge, or 165 miles of city driving. That may not compare too favourably with some rivals, though the company’s own research reveals that Mazda owners drive an average 26 miles in a day.
Recharging up to 80 per cent capacity can be completed in 36 minutes from a rapid charger while a full home recharge takes around five hours.
As for performance, it takes 9.7 seconds to hit 60mph from standstill and top speed is a rather conservative 87mph. That said, this is a really enjoyable car to drive, displaying the dynamics and handling balance to match its sharp styling.
It also has five levels of brake regeneration, controlled by paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel and even enabling the driver to stop without using the brake pedal.
Add price to the equation and the MX-30 is definitely a serious player.
For instance, take off the £3,000 Government grant for low emission cars and the Mazda starts at £25,545, representing genuine value in an EV arena that sees the likes of many vehicles of equivalent size and smaller costing more.
Those quickest off the mark will be able to snare a limited number of First Edition models priced from £27,495, otherwise the four-model range will top out from £29,845 for a high spec GT Sport Tech variant.
Predicted best seller, from the middle of the line-up, is the Sport Lux at £27,545 and every buyer ordering an MX-30 by March 31 will receive a free home-charger wall box.
All models are extremely well kitted out and include an elegant 8.8-inch colour display screen on the top of the dash, a separate 7-inch screen for the ventilation as well as high end features like a head-up display.
There’s also a full suite of safety kit and the Mazda Connect set-up supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with smartphone integration.