EV Motoring: A Taste Of EV's - MAMA and the EV R-evolution - by Thom Cannell
Here comes the fun, and it's alright!
Senior Editor, Michigan Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Fall of 2021, MAMA, the Midwest Automotive Media Association resumed its oft-annual Rally at Road America and I drove my first new-generation Electric Vehicles. They could not have been more different.
First a Volkswagen ID4, later the Mazda, MX-30. Each of them is in some ways a more complete vehicle than the other. For instance, the interior of the Mazda is way better, a First Class, New York Fern bar with an exquisitely finished cabin. It doesn't accelerate as briskly as the ID four; an ID4 will push you back into the seat and delivers more of a middle-class appearance, an “I'm gonna take you to college and work, but not the country club.”
Volkswagen has electronic controls, Mazda MX- 30 has what appear to be conventional controls, but surely they are digital beneath their mechanical surface. ID4 makes barely any sound while MX 30 makes a little engine-like growl, an eight-cylinder vehicle heard from a distance.
My choice then, despite a severely limited range of MX-30 since I would prefer to live in the lap of luxury would be Mazda with its suicide doors. And if I were sending a kid to college, on a budget or my first EV I would surely pick the ID four.
This year the range of EVs was far greater, Ford’s F-150 Lightning, the first appearance and test of the Genesis GV60, Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, Kia’s EV6, Subaru’s Solterra, and Volvo’s C 40 and XC40.
As others will deliver individual reviews, these are brief first-drive impressions based on a scripted 10-20 minute test drive.
I first drove the Volvo XC 40, which remained the most sophisticated EV with a sleek, austere interior and over 400 horsepower. Alone, it was not overwhelmed by a grandiose tablet/control system. Dressed in charcoal and without a pushbutton to start (it recognizes the key fob), the XC 40 felt like the lounge of a W or other trendy boutique hotel. For comfort, simple elegance and style, my choice.
Kia’s EV6, a top-of-line version, included a head up display. Steering and chassis felt true to brand, sporty and incredibly road -connected. Atop the floating console is a charging pad, beneath space for a backpack-sized purse. As EV’s use heated seats and steering wheels to conserve power; my hands and backside on that misty 50°F day were plenty warm. Notably, its audio referenced numeric electronic tubes as pioneered by, I believe, Macintosh.
Subaru Solterra shares engineering fundamentals with Toyota’s BZ4X; I find its interior peculiar and eccentric. For instance, molded-in “Star Wars” blocks and lozenges on an extended arm of the instrument panel where it meets the door—and elsewhere. Its instrument control system is either too high or too low, depending on your seating height. Ultimately, expressiveness was overstated, and individuality muted which is sometimes my take on Subaru.
Ford F-150 Lightning XLT was not the rumored-to-be fleet-only $39,995 model, thousands of dollars upscale. Nonetheless, despite being beat on for the entire morning it retained 260 miles of range as every driver did multiple full-throttle accelerations, one of the toughest battery drains. Why impressive? It is a Ford F-150 in every way imaginable, save perhaps for towing range—which Ford says degrades similarly to a gasoline powertrain. In every way possible this truck impressed us, and its new Ford Sync deftly linked to an iPhone, easily forgetting the multitude of previous uses but switch the huge tablet to Dark Mode.
Genesis GV60 with Uyuni White paint and Glacier White interior stunned us. A 235-mile range Performance AWD (MSRP $67,890), it was the first GV60 to be widely driven by journalists and preceded the first North American customer delivery. Why stunning? A little button labeled “Boost” put all 429 horsepower into its tires, easily chirping them at 30 mph and delivering acceleration so massive that I could feel my brain slosh: I am not joking. Some interior aspects are frivolous, like the crystal shift knob that rotates into position or overly fussy controls on door panels—perhaps that’s what luxury customers want in their new EV.
This leaves a multitude of other battery electric vehicles yet to be tested: GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Lucid, Rivian, BrightDrop and others. The fun has barely begun.