It looks like a Mazda, but of a different kind, and with a new electric powertrain.
With the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show opening today, Japanese automakers are clamoring to showcase their latest concept and production vehicles. And this is what Mazda brought.
It's called the MX-30, and it emerges as Mazda's first electric vehicle – adopting, as so many of the latest EVs have, the form of a crossover, but in the Zoom-Zoom brand's own unique style. It's clearly designed by the same manufacturer behind the Mazda3, but where most of Mazda's crossovers have more or less applied the same styling from the brand's passenger cars to their taller forms, the MX-30 forges its own, more rugged stylistic path.
The wheel arches, for example, are not only squared off, but clad in contrasting trim extending around the bottom of the vehicle. The shape is decidedly more upright, and designed to look like it's been chiseled (or machined) from a solid block of billet. And like the lower body cladding, the roof structure contrasts with the principal bodywork, with metallic pillars framing a black top panel.
Mazda has also given the MX-30 pillarless, counter-opening "freestyle" doors in similar style to those it applied to the RX-8, offering unimpeded access to a human-centric and welcoming cabin space – all in a package sized almost identically to the new CX-30 crossover.
Where you'd expect to see plastic and leather, the interior materials are decidedly more "natural," with fibrous textile upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles and renewably sourced cork trim that pay tribute to Mazda's heritage, having been founded in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company.
The shape of the interior surfaces follows the exterior design, with squared-off forms, a horizontal layout to the dashboard, and a floating center console for an airy and harmonious cabin environment. There's a 7-inch touchscreen display, a proliferation of power outlets, enough luggage space to swallow four carry-on suitcases, and of course all the advanced driver-assistance and safety systems Mazda has to offer.
The real advancement which the MX-30 represents, however, is the new electric-vehicle architecture and powertrain which it brings to the road for the first time. In European spec, at least, it packs a 35.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, but while Mazda has detailed everything from the G-Vectoring Control active chassis to the response of the accelerator and brake pedals, it hasn't said is just what kind of electric motors it employs, or the power, performance, and range they'll provide. But we're sure those details will follow in due course, including the potential incorporation of a Wankel rotary range-extender markets like ours where commuting distances are typically farther than they are in Europe or Japan.