Mazda's first electric car opens up thanks to 'Freestyle' doors

The MX-30 is ready to one-up Tesla's Falcon Wing.

Mazda is a bit late to the electrified party, but the small MX-30 crossover it just unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show might have been worth waiting for. Besides its 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery and e-Skyactiv the showstopping feature here is the RX-8-like "Freestyle" door setup, with front and rear doors on both sides that open at the center "so customers can invent new and creative ways of using the car."

Like the Tesla Model X with its Falcon Wing doors that open up instead of out, the Freestyle doors -- which open to 82 degrees in the front and 80 degrees in the rear -- are supposed to make getting people and things in and out easier than ever. This is no towering SUV however, while it's over 14 feet long, the top of MX-30 is only a little over 5 feet high.


One of the most outstanding features of the MX-30 is its unique center-pillar-less Freestyle doors with custom-designed hinges that allow the front doors to open to 82° and rear doors to open to 80°. This not only makes entering and exiting the car and loading and unloading cargo easier but also provides easier access for strollers and wheelchairs. The wide angle to which the front doors open was designed to facilitate this wide variety of usage styles. For example, the layout and the absence of a center pillar make it possible to bring a stroller right up beside the rear seat and smoothly and comfortably put a baby into a child seat while maintaining eye contact. The front door is opened first, followed by the rear door, and both can be opened without changing position. Opening the freestyle doors wide provides a new view and, in addition to improving access, opens a range of new possibilities for enjoying the car. For instance, drivers may wish to take time out of their daily routine to stop by the park, open up the doors and listen to the sounds of nature for a few moments or to use the car like base camp from which to enjoy outdoor activities with their friends.

To further enhance the freedom of ingress and egress provided by the Freestyle doors, the height and shape of the door openings are designed in accordance with human characteristics. The rear door trim adopts a vertical grip that makes opening and closing the door easier and that does not place much burden on the wrist when reaching for it, even with the door wide open. The 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.1 The folding angle and slide distance were chosen in consideration of the occupant's body movements, ensuring smooth entry to and exit from the rear seats. The cross-section of the side sills and shape of the side sill garnish are also carefully designed to facilitate smooth, effortless exit from the cabin.

Driving dynamics are a key feature in any Mazda and the MX-30 is no different, with "Electric G-Vectoring Control Plus" torque vectoring control that helps the car load its weight on the front going into a corner, then back to the rear as it exits. Its single electric motor is mounted up front along with other components, while its battery beneath the floor helps increase rigidity.

Despite its suicide door-opening -- wonder how Elon Musk feels about that -- Mazda says the frame surrounding the battery is connected to the body in 20 locations to make it diagonally rigid and reduce road noise. The battery has a refrigerant cooling system, and fast DC charging is possible using the either the CHAdeMO or COMBO standard, which will vary by region. The version we're seeing is a European spec, but we're still waiting for details on how much it will cost, how far it can go on a charge and when it will be available.