Where’s the practicality, Mazda?

Mazda just launched its first all-electric vehicle, the MX-30, at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and it’s quite an exotic crossover in a sea of dull-looking haulers. And that’s mostly because it has tiny, rear-hinged doors like the RX-8, a sports car that Mazda built from 2003 to 2012. Needless to say, it’s a cool feature to have, but it ruins the practicality of the MX-30 and makes me wonder why Mazda went with such a design.

The feature that made the RX-8 famous

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The designed was actually very practical for the RX-8, turning it into a proper four-seater

The rear-hinged, suicide-style rear doors are among the few features that turn the RX-8 into an iconic car. The designed was actually very practical for the RX-8, turning it into a proper four-seater rather than a 2+2 coupe. The goal was to improve access to the rear seats, an issue with most coupes, but the rear-hinged design had to do with the fact that the RX-8 had no B-pillars. It was a fortunate case in which a practical design became exotic, as it revived the rear-hinged doors on an affordable car after many decades.

Mazda obviously aimed to do the same with the MX-30. With the much-rumored return of the rotary engine still not happening, Mazda probably thought it was a good idea to bring one of the RX-8’s most notable feature back into the spotlight. This is indeed a good marketing scheme, but the design isn’t as practical for a small SUV like the MX-30.

The MX-30’s rear doors make no sense

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The small rear doors don't make much sense from a design standpoint

A quick look at an RX-8 with both the front and rear door open reveals that access to the rear seats is quite easy. But not the same can be said about the MX-30. Opening the rear door doesn’t create a lot of space to climb into the car, because there’s not enough room between the front door and the rear fender. To offer similar room to the RX-8, the MX-30 needed to have a slightly longer wheelbase and a longer rear door. In this configuration, it’s basically impossible to enter the rear section of the cabin without having to recline the front seat and take a big step over the base of the front seat.

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What’s more, the small rear doors don’t make much sense from a design standpoint. They actually disrupt the design of the rear fenders and create an unusually large quarter window. Mazda could have easily gone with regular doors on this one. And before you argue that the MX-30 might have looked weird with longer rear doors, just look at the CX-30, an SUV that’s very similar to the EV, and you’ll see that it looks just fine with proper doors.

So what’s the point of this design? Well, Mazda says it’s supposed to give the SUV "a distinctive and elegant silhouette," but I can’t see it. It’s just a way to make its first EV seem special, but it fails to add the practicality that made the RX-8 famous.

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