Roughly a decade after production of the RX-8 ended with the Spirit R special edition, Mazda is officially bringing the rotary engine back at the 2023 Brussels Motor Show. Unfortunately, the confusingly named ‘MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV’ is far from a sports car and its rotary engine was not designed with performance in mind. Instead, it acts as a range extender, allowing the crossover to travel significantly further than the regular electric version.
The 830cc direct injection petrol engine has a high compression ratio of 11.9:1. It develops 75 hp (55 kilowatts) at 4,700 rpm and 116 Newton meters (86 lb-ft) of torque at 4,000 rpm, but doesn’t actually drive the wheels. Similar to the Nissan Qashqai e-Powerthe wheels are powered solely by an electric motor, which in this case produces 167 hp (125 kW) and 260 Nm (191 lb-ft) of torque.
With no mechanical connection to the wheels, the Wankel engine’s job is to drive a generator that produces energy to extend MX-30 Range to more than 600 kilometers (373 miles). The ICE gets the juice it needs from a 50-liter petrol tank mounted just in front of the rear axle, while the 17.8 kWh lithium-ion battery is installed in the underbody.
Mazda believes owners will use the vehicle predominantly as a pure electric vehicle, as the all-electric WLTP range of 85 km (53 miles) on the combined cycle should last for a day and 40 minutes to fully charge on an 11 kW wallbox. Switching from 20 to 80 percent via a DC connection (36 kW) takes 25 minutes.
The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.1 seconds and is electronically limited to 140 km/h (87 mph). Understandably heavy for a small crossover, this rotary plug-in hybrid version tips the scales at 1,703 kilograms. Nevertheless, Mazda advertises a remarkably low fuel consumption of just 1 litre/100 kilometers (62 miles) in the combined WLTP cycle, with corresponding CO2 Emissions of just 21 g/km.
The starting price is 35,990 euros in Germany, where the entry-level model costs the same as the purely electric car. Five versions of the PHEV are available, rounded out with the Edition R for €45,040.
We should point out that this isn’t the first time Mazda has given the MX-30 a petrol engine. In some markets like Japan and Australia, the crossover will be sold with a mild-hybrid 2.0-liter mill that produces 153 hp and 200 Nm (147 lb-ft).