With the fast-arriving advent of many electric vehicles (EVs) on the market, there was always a risk that, in some characteristics, they would all become a tad samey.
Make no mistake: we’re big fans of well-executed EVs. Based on our star ratings, the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron are among our favourites, both achieving 4.5 stars in our road test. Most do, however, have some notably similar elements: instant torque, one-pedal driving and silent motoring, to name a few.
Talking about its first EV, the MX-30, Mazda’s European boss Yasuhiro Aoyama said: “It had to have standout design, be great to drive – something we believe many manufacturers have forgotten in their rush to launch EV products – and, most importantly, make a positive contribution to reducing emission across the entire lifecycle of the product.”
There’s a strong opinion if ever you needed one. While we reckon existing EVs have plenty of scope for enjoyable driving (just read Matt Prior’s take on the Porsche Taycan), Mazda’s decidedly different approach should be applauded.
It won’t offer one-pedal driving in the MX-30, instead providing only a small amount of regenerative deceleration when coming off the throttle. It doesn’t deliver instant torque, instead giving a more progressive line of acceleration. And rather than silent motoring, it has created artifical sounds to reflect the increase of torque similar to an internal combustion engine (although Mazda is discussing offering no artificial sounds as an option).
Those well-versed in EVs would probably miss some of those traditional EV characterisitcs (I, for one, enjoy silent motoring), but many, including the large majority of the population who aren't familiar with EVs, will happily embrace a car that's just like their existing one except that it’s electric.
Either way, Mazda’s single-mindedness is a breath of fresh air, especially from a relatively small manufacturer that isn't going all-in on EVs. To the contrary: next year, it will introduce an innovative new diesel engine. There’s a sentence you didn’t expect to read.