At the Automobile Council near Tokyo on Friday, the only auto show to be staged in Japan since the pandemic struck, Mazda surprised the 3,000 invited guests and media with the world premiere of a gasoline-hybrid version of its soon-to-be-launched MX-30 pure electric SUV. Up until yesterday, as far as anyone knew, the MX-30 crossover which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, was going to be a dedicated EV. Now it has a hybrid brother.
Fitted with the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline “e-Skyactiv G” mild hybrid system employed in the Mazda3, the all-wheel-drive MX-30 will go on sale by the end of the year. In contrast, Mazda says it will start taking orders to lease the MX-30 fully electric version by the end of 2020, with deliveries starting in early 2021. Featuring suicide doors, like those employed on the rotary-powered RX-8, the MX-30 incorporates controversial styling that takes the crossover in a different direction to Mazda’s highly-acclaimed Kodo Design. Penned in that design philosophy, the Mazda3 won the 2020 World Car Design of the Year while the MX-5 captured the same trophy in 2016.
Rising coronavirus cases in Japan worried nervous event organizers who feared the Automobile Council might be canceled altogether, after already being postponed twice. As infections spiked at over 1,500 cases on Friday, the Japanese government re-floated the idea of imposing a state of emergency. In line with current non-state of emergency government guidelines however, all guests were required to wear masks and socially distance while event staff took body temperatures at the venue’s entrance and recorded visitor’s names and phone numbers to maintain a potential tracing protocol.
Mazda’s head of design, Ikuo Maeda, who was at the Makuhari Messe complex to oversee the firm’s special 100th birthday display said, “It was touch and go there for a while with another potential event postponement on the cards, but we are ecstatic to finally be able to reveal the hybrid MX-30 in amongst our collection of historical cars celebrating the firm’s centenary.” In the biggest stand at the event, Mazda also displayed its Green Panel tricycle from 1936, the tiny R360 two-door passenger car from 1960, the 1963 Familia 800 Van, the Luce 1500, the MX-5, as well as the rotary-powered 1967 Cosmo Sport, RX-7 and RX-5.
The Automobile Council’s catchphrase “classic meets modern” says it all. Now in its fifth year, the event combines components of typical car shows, at which new cars are revealed, with those of classic car collections at which heritage vehicles are displayed and paid homage. In addition to the Mazda MX-30 hybrid reveal, McLaren also held their Japan debut of the 620R road car of which only 350 units will be built.
For 2020, the event’s theme of “The Beauty of 1960’s Le Mans Cars” was aptly illustrated with the display of a 1963 Alpine M63 and a 1966 Iso Grifo A3. Dozens of other classic road and race cars were also on display including a 1956 Corvette, a Ferrari 308GTB, a 1936 MG TA Q-Type, a 1967 Lotus Elan, as well as a variety of Citroens, Porsches and Mercedes Benz classic cars.
The Automobile Council will allow a maximum number of 5,000 visitors per day and run until August 2.