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RAY MASSEY: Mazda's MX-30 features pillar-less design


The temptation to make an airline-style ‘cabin doors to manual’ announcement was almost overwhelming.

For it is the wide open space between the doors that strikes you first with Mazda’s new family and fun focussed MX-30 crossover which goes on sale this week.

The wide-opening ‘freestyle’ or clam-shell doors of perception swing open in the opposite direction to one another creating a disconcertingly huge gap where the sides of the five-door five-seater SUV normally are.

Mind the gap: Mazda's new family-focused MX-30  features a pillar-less design

Mind the gap: Mazda’s new family-focused MX-30  features a pillar-less design

The front doors of the MX-30 are hinged conventionally at the front. But the rear doors are hinged at the back, allowing access to the rear bench seat. And when that happens there’s no visible central pillar. So with all the doors open you can look right through the car.

It’s a style already used on Mazda’s earlier 2003 RX-8 sports coupe, as well as on the Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine (though it has a central pillar) and – on one one-side only – by MINI with its Clubman, BMW’s i3. And of course, a London cab.

Back in the far distant olden days – when many a car’s front and/or rear door were hinged at the back like this – they were known rather grimly as ‘suicide doors’ because of the risk that opening one while underway and against the direction of travel could result in the driver or passenger being sucked out.

Rest reassured, modern health and safety means the rear doors on the new Mazda – launched in the Japanese firm’s centenary year – can only be opened of the front door is open first. And if that is attempted while the car is driving, the vehicle will come to a stop.

For the record, that elusive central pillar is cunningly hidden in the frame of the rear door, so maintains structural integrity when the doors are closed.

The new Mazda MX-30 is Mazda’s first all-electric car and the Japanese car firm’s first to achieve a top 5-star EuroNCAP crash-test safety rating under more stringent 2020 regime.

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Having seen it unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show (remember those pre-Covid days when you could still travel abroad?), I recently drove an early production model on UK roads.

Sitting quite high on its 18-inch wheels but with low-slung looks and a commanding seating position, it’s a sprightly and engaging drive with nimble handling and dynamic pace.

It has stylishly distinctive looks and some neat design and eco-friendly touches including the clean dashboard, contemporary fabric seats, and recycled bottles used in the doors.

Open space: While the front doors are hinged conventionally, the rear ones are hinged at the back

Open space: While the front doors are hinged conventionally, the rear ones are hinged at the back

Cork trim around the gear selector – off-cuts from bottle stops- reflects Mazda’s origins as a cork manufacturer.

Prices over three trim levels run from £25,545 for the SE-L Lux, to £27,545 for the Sport Lux and £29,845 for the top-of the range GT Sport Tech, as well as a well-specced initial limited UK run of 350 ‘First Edition’ cars priced from £27,495 – all after deducting the £3,000 plug-in grant.

Powered by a 145 horsepower electric motor and a smaller lighter-weight 35.5KWh lithium ion battery it accelerates from rest to 62mph in 9.7 seconds up to a top speed of 87mph, and you can increase the driving resistance to help create more charge and therefore range.

WILL IT FIT INTO MY GARAGE?

New Mazda MX-30

On sale: Now

Price: from £25,545 (after deducting the government’s £3,000 plug-in car grant)

Length: 4,395mm

Width: 1,795mm

Height: 1,555mm

Wheelbase: 2,655mm

Weight: 1,645mm

Drive: 145 horsepower electric motor

Battery: 35.5KWh lithium ion battery

CO2 emissions: Zero

0 to 62mph: 9.7 seconds

Top speed: 87mph

Range: 124 miles

Charging time

Domestic wall-charger: about five hours

Fast charger up to 80%: 36 minutes

Those who get their order in before the end of this month get the bonus of a free domestic wall-charger which should charge it to capacity in about five hours. On a fast charger it will do up to 80 per cent in 36 minutes.

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The big compromise with a smaller battery is on range which, at 124 miles, marks it as a city or commuter car – great for short hops and round-trips, but requiring forward planning and re-charging pit-stops for longer journeys , adding to the hassle factor when public charging points may be scarce or out of action. 

That range is less than rivals such as the Renault Zoe (245 miles), Peugeot e-208 (211 miles) and Nissan LEAF (194 miles), and even those already having range identified as a limiting factor such as the Honda-e (136 miles) and MINI Electric (136 miles).

With custom-designed hinges, the front doors open forwards to an angle of up to 82° and rear doors backwards, to 80°. This –and the absence of a central pillar – allows easy entry to and exit from both front and rear seats.

The rear door trim also incorporates a vertical grip that makes it easier to open and close the door easier, with less stress on the wrist, even with the door wide open.

Front seats are equipped with a ‘walk-in’ mechanism that, with a single touch, folds the seatback forward and simultaneously slides the whole seat toward the front.

This makes entry and exit from the rear seats easier.

Managing director of Mazda Motors UK, Jeremy Thomson, said: ‘Our first all-electric Mazda heralds an exciting start to Mazda’s second century in business.’

LAND ROVER DEFENDER VOTED WOMEN’S CAR OF THE YEAR  

 The new Land Rover Defender was this week voted Women’s World Car of the Year for 2021. 

It was also named Best Medium SUV in the only car awards with an all-female jury of 50 motoring journalists from 38 countries across five continents. 

Favourite: The awards were timed to coincide with International Women's Day on March 8

Favourite: The awards were timed to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8

The awards were timed to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, and Marta García, executive president of Women’s World Car of the Year, said: ‘­The jury’s decisions represent the liking and preferences of millions of women drivers around the globe.’ 

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The Land Rover Defender is from £44,825 for the 90 and £46,215 for the 110, with a 90 Hard Top from £35,360 (before VAT). 

Among other winners were: the Peugeot 208 (urban car); Skoda Octavia (family); Lexus LC 500 Cabrio (luxury) and Honda e (electric).

CELEBRATION FOR 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF JAGUAR E-TYPE 

The 60th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type is being celebrated with the creation of six matching pairs of restored Series 1 models — a coupé and a convertible — based on the two cars used for its debut at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. 

Costing about £650,000 for the pair, they honour the cars driven flat-out overnight from Coventry to Switzerland — by test driver Norman Dewis and Jaguar PR Bob Berry — on March 15. 

Stylish: Six matching pairs of restored Series 1 models — a coupé and a convertible (pictured) — based on the two cars used for its debut at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show

Stylish: Six matching pairs of restored Series 1 models — a coupé and a convertible (pictured) — based on the two cars used for its debut at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show

Named after their number plates — 9600 HP and the 77 RW — the cars were created by Jaguar Classic in Coventry and have 3.8-litre 265bhp straight-six engines. 

An engraving on each car illustrates the original routes. In the reborn E-Type coupé, this engraving is accompanied by Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons’ words to Berry on his arrival in Geneva: ‘I thought you’d never get here.’ 

In the convertible, this is swapped for Lyons’s phone instruction to Dewis: ‘Drop everything and come now. 

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