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Mazda has chosen a slightly different path for its first production EV, and now we try it in UK specification.
Our first chance to try a UK specification example in the UK
Standard equipment on GT Sport Tech:
LED headlights, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control with intelligent speed assist, 8.8in touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, head-up display, type 2 AC charging cable plus socket for 50kW rapid charging, home charging unit provided by NewMotion, wiper de-icer, power and tilt sunroof, heated steering wheel, 12-speaker Bose surround sound, auto-dimming driver door mirror, 18in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, driver attention alert, blindspot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, emergency lane-keeping with lane departure warning, three-pin plug socket.
Our first encounter with Mazda's MX-30 electric car was in a left-hand drive example last autumn.
The experience was slightly underwhelming, especially as Mazda claimed only 124 miles range for the car on the WLTP cycle. This level of range was an aspiration for electric cars a decade ago, but it seems to lack ambition in 2021.
The MX-30 is similar in size to Peugeot's E-2008, which is capable of around 200 miles on a full charge.
But Mazda says most people don't need all of that range at once, and to be truly sustainable, electric cars should not be plundering the earth's natural resources of precious metals to create vast battery packs that are rarely used for long journeys, as well as increase the vehicle's mass.
In 2011, Mazda launched its SkyActiv philosophy in its car range, focusing on efficiency through weight reduction, and perhaps this also applies to electric cars.
So the MX-30 compact SUV has enough range for a trip of a couple of hours, while remaining athletic, and perhaps has even stronger environmental credentials than many of its rivals.
The other benefit of keeping the mass of the MX-30 to a minimum is that Mazda has a better chance of making the car retain some of the driving characteristics that bring people to the brand.
Mazda has also brought us some quirky and endearing models over the years, and the MX-30 revives the RX-8's rear-hinged back doors. Those additions actually make access to the rear passenger compartment surprisingly easy, and is also good for fitting child seats.
The MX-30's wheelbase is somewhere between that of a Peugeot E-2008 and a Nissan Leaf, and offers reasonable space for up to five adults, although perhaps not ideal for comfort on longer journeys.
The lower console incorporates a 7in colour touchscreen air conditioning control panel, and, in a nod to Mazda's founding as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company in 1920 (it diversified into engineering in 1927), the Mazda MX-30 features cork-lined centre console trays and inner side door handles.
Cork is harvested from the bark of trees without felling, and - as well as door trim materials incorporating fibres from recycled plastic bottles - it feels like they strike the right note for Mazda's first production EV.
The MX-30, unlike many modern electric cars, retains conventional analogue instruments, although it's refreshing not to be bamboozled by various configuration options for the driver's preferred information layout.
With 145hp and 200lb ft of torque, the Mazda MX-30 moves along very nicely, despite a kerb weight of around 1,600-1,700kg, which depends on specification chosen, while the low-mounted battery pack helps the car feel planted and secure when cornering.
Mazda engineers seem to have worked hard to retain the enjoyable driving characteristics you'd expect in a Mazda - intuitive steering, with stability and composure when going through the corners - and made it feel like a well-rounded product, rather than the all-too-often EV set-up of rapid acceleration and so-so handling response.
The low full-charge range of 124 miles (perhaps dipping under 100 miles on a cold winter's day) might be too high a price for some to choose it, but for those whose driving is predominantly urban and when long journeys are rare, the MX-30 is a refreshing take on the EV.