Mazda’s first all-electric production vehicle is part of an electrification strategy that has also seen the Mazda M Hybrid mild-hybrid system fitted to the Mazda3, Mazda CX-30 and selected Mazda2s. Like every Mazda, the MX-30 has been conceived with the goal of ‘Jinba Ittai’ at the forefront of the development process; a Japanese phrase for horse and rider as one, the spirit of Jinba Ittai can be found in every Mazda where the connection between driver and car is a key element of what makes a Mazda a Mazda.
No car exemplifies this more than the Mazda MX-5 and its focus on driver engagement, lightweight design, communicative controls and balanced handling. Sharing the MX moniker – that’s only worn by Mazdas that challenge convention to create and deliver new values in a segment – the Mazda MX-30 has been designed with the aim of delivering the kind of driver engagement not traditionally found behind the wheel of a battery electric vehicle.
With the 2019 launch of the latest Mazda3, the company introduced its latest Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture, a set of next-generation structural technologies which focus on the further evolution of Mazda's human-centred development philosophy. As the third newcomer in Mazda’s next-generation model line-up following the Mazda3 and the CX-30, the MX-30 adopts this advanced technology. It is designed to offer a pure and connected driving experience uniquely tailored to the smooth behaviour and seamless operation of its all-electric powertrain.
The goal of the Jinba Ittai driving ethos is to make the car's reaction to the driver’s intention instantaneous, so that driver and machine move together as one, providing faithful response, greater confidence and enhanced safety. The ongoing quest for the ultimate Jinba Ittai driving experience is at the heart of every element of the MX-30s dynamics. Both the multi-directional ring structures of the bodyshell and G-vectoring control (GVC) were evolved to fully exploit the unique characteristics and qualities of an electric vehicle.
Mazda has also developed its own bespoke motor pedal concept for the Mazda MX-30 - a development of the traditional accelerator pedal. The MX-30 is also equipped with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to further enhance the enjoyment of EV driving. These technologies combine to offer drivers a composed ride quality, seamless vehicle motion in all directions, and an intuitive feeling of total control over all driving operations with natural feedback and responses not normally found in some rival EVs.
Mazda’s original bodyshell concept, which is based on a straight framework bolstered by continuous ring structures, is enhanced in the MX-30 through an increase in its rigidity and energy transmission efficiency. The vertical, lateral and longitudinal connections of the bodyshell’s multi-directional ring structures increase rigidity while reducing lag in energy transmission and maximising the function of the dampers and tyres. By concentrating energy input from the road surface in specific locations and using the damping structure that serves as a buffer material to absorb it, the body effectively reduces vibration that would otherwise cause noise, and does so without increasing vehicle weight.
Incorporating the battery pack as a part of the bodyshell’s ring structure enhances the multi-directional ring structures of its basic design by greatly increasing diagonal rigidity. Specifically, the frame that surrounds the battery pack is connected to the body in 20 locations. Straight crossmembers sandwiching the battery pack from above and below combine with a reinforced ring structure for the rear axle mounts to significantly reduce the delay in the transmission of inputs. In total, these measures effect a 24% reduction of the input time delay of front-to-back transmission in Mazda's new-generation EVs versus ICE-powered vehicles, significantly increasing the controllability of the car.
The MX-30 suspension system features a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear set-up. By implementing the same measures as on the Mazda3 and CX-30 - such as the use of optimised bushings and a centre beam - the smooth and instantaneous transmission of force from the road surface to the driver has been achieved.
With the aim of matching the natural feel of an accelerator pedal, the e-Skyactiv system's motor pedal uses Mazda’s own electric motor torque control system to realise the desired vehicle speed and posture control based on the driver’s intended amount of both acceleration and deceleration. Closely monitoring the stroke as well as the speed of the driver’s pedal action enables the motor pedal to meet the expectations of the driver in responding with linear application of G-force. Gradual torque transition makes it easy to maintain vehicle speed when the driver operates the pedal slowly. In contrast, it interprets quick pedal operation as an indication that the driver wishes to accelerate and responds quickly by providing powerful acceleration. Similarly, when lifting the foot from the pedal, the system monitors the speed with which the driver operates the pedal and controls the response of deceleration G-force accordingly.
Power unit mounts and other measures to increase the rigidity of the torque transmission system realise smooth and stable vehicle behaviour, even as motor torque changes from generating drive power to generating braking force. In addition, cooperative control over deceleration by the motor and brakes as the brake pedal is operated allows kinetic energy to be recovered and electricity regenerated with minimal waste. Seamlessly connecting deceleration force as the driver moves their foot from the motor pedal and starts to press the brake pedal provides greater control over the front-rear load shift when braking.
To ensure drivers in the MX-30 can experience perfect and adjustable levels of regenerative braking, the MX-30's steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters add to the driving experience by enabling drivers to adjust the powertrain's torque characteristics and the level of energy regeneration both when the motor pedal is not operated, and under braking. These characteristics can be adjusted through five selectable settings with the paddle shifters -two levels up and two down from the default 'D' level, which have an impact on both the motor pedal's on and off positions. Regardless of the speed level selected, the only thing the paddle shifters change is the ease with which the driver can change vehicle speeds.
For example, when driving downhill, using the left paddle will result in what feels like an increase in vehicle running resistance (along with an increase in energy recuperation), enabling the driver to control the vehicle with added confidence. Alternatively, using the right paddle when driving up steep inclines will give the feeling of a decrease in running resistance (and energy recuperation), making it easier for the driver to maintain speed. In addition, using the right paddle when driving on motorways will impede deceleration, allowing the driver to more easily travel at a set speed without straining their right foot.
Complementing, the MX-30s chassis and EV drivetrain set-up, Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC), which uses the powertrain to improve chassis performance, has evolved into e-GVC Plus. This uses the torque characteristics of the electric motor to optimise the front-rear load shift under an even wider range of driving scenarios. In every speed range, the system achieves smooth and seamless transitions between longitudinal and latitudinal G-forces, whether the driver is making steering corrections on a straight road or cornering, to create vehicular behaviour that always feels natural and pleasing.
e-GVC Plus provides fine control over motor torque in response to the driver’s steering wheel operations. When the driver turns the steering wheel to enter a corner, the system reduces torque slightly to instigate load transfer to the front, assume a smooth turning posture, and optimise front tyre grip. When the driver starts to return the steering wheel to its original position as the car begins to exit the corner, torque is increased slightly to shift the load to the rear and stabilise vehicle behaviour. If the driver quickly returns the steering wheel to the neutral position, brake moment control operates in co-operation to settle cornering behaviour. As a result, it greatly improves stability when driving on all types of roads.
The well-weighted, accurate and communicative steering of the MX-30 further complements this dynamic set up, while a brake system that delivers the sort of pedal feel and consistent feedback missing from other EVs also marks the MX-30 out. Mazda’s ideal braking performance set-up is to have braking force build gently from the instant the driver touches the pedal, and then maintain a consistent strength level. Braking force should also drop off smoothly when gently lifting one’s foot from the pedal. Developed according to this philosophy, the Mazda MX-30’s braking system reduces rolling resistance while increasing control. The resultant vehicle behaviour enables cabin occupants to maximise their innate ability to maintain balance for a comfortable driving experience.
As you would expect, refinement and excellent ride control are also key MX-30 dynamic attributes and even though an electric vehicle produces no engine sound, Mazda’s e-Skyactiv provides aural feedback to the driver that enables the driver to subconsciously recognise the torque status of the power unit and thus control vehicle speed with greater precision. For example, when people hear the sound of a river flowing, they can imagine the amount of water and speed at which it is flowing based solely on the sound frequency and volume. Mazda takes advantage of this human characteristic by actively controlling sound - developed in house by Mazda -through the audio system in a way that is natural and pleasing to the driver’s ears. Synchronising this sound to perfectly match both the motor torque and the driving situation - uphill, downhill, etc, helps not only the driver to more precisely control vehicle speed, but also all occupants to more instinctively understand the movement of the vehicle for greater on-board comfort.
With comfort, driver engagement and enjoyment a key part of the MX-30s appeal this dynamic EV is electric the Mazda way.