The Mazda MX-30 R-EV revives the spinning top

It’s really, really, really here: a new one Mazda with rotary engine. The new MX-30 R-EV plug-in hybrid was revealed. It looks very much like it the regularbut it swaps a fair bit battery for a large gas tank. It also picks up more horsepower and a special model.

Early on, when Mazda announced that the extended-range MX-30 was on the way, we imagined it would be BMW i3; mostly one electric car with a gas engine that was more of a backup generator. As it turns out, it’s a little closer a Chevy Volt. At 17.8 kWh, the battery capacity is half that of the all-electric model. Mazda estimates the range on the WLTP cycle at 85 kilometers and we’d expect around 50 miles, half of what the electric version can do. That’s not particularly impressive, but it seems the petrol engine can take you a lot further than that i3 could. Mazda didn’t provide a range estimate, but the gas tank is a sizeable 13.2 gallons, compared to the i3’s roughly 2 gallons. Fuel economy was also not given.

Cutaway Mazda MX-30 R-EV chassis

Nevertheless, the entire system of the MX-30 R-EV runs as a series hybrid, with the gas engine simply generating power as needed (when the battery is low and/or acceleration needs require additional power from the gas engine), rather than driving the wheels directly. The electric motor in the R-EV is more powerful than the regular MX-30 at 168 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. However, it’s still not a rocket with a 0-62mph estimate of 9.1 seconds. The fact that the R-EV weighs 293 pounds more than its all-electric twin likely contributes to that number.

Hanging from the side of the electric motor and attached to a generator is the first production rotary engine Mazda has built since 2012. Called the 8C, it has a single rotor with a displacement of 830cc. It has side inlet and outlet ports like that RX-8‘s Renesis engine, but it has direct injection and an aluminum rotorcase. It puts out 75 hp on its own, about twice as much as the i3’s twin-cylinder engine would put out. Of course, this only serves to generate electricity and not to drive the wheels.

Mazda 8C Wankel engine in section

Like many current plug-in hybrids, the MX-30 R-EV has selectable modes for powertrain operation. Normal generally operates as an electric vehicle, but when acceleration requirements are high enough, the gas engine kicks in to maintain the charge. It will also keep the petrol engine running when the battery is depleted for acceleration purposes. EV mode runs in full EV unless the driver depresses the accelerator pedal far enough, as in an automatic transmission kickdown. And there’s a charge mode that allows the driver to target a battery level for the car. It maintains this level of charge when the battery is dead, or it charges the battery up to this level with the petrol engine if possible. Speaking of charging: The MX-30 R-EV supports DC fast charging, but only up to an output of 36 kW. Mazda estimates that it can charge from 20% to 80% in 25 minutes with DC charging.

The rest of the car is pretty much the same as before. It has McPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam in the rear. It features the same G-Vectoring controls as the electric model. The interior is the same as the unique door design.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV Edition R

However, there are a few small exterior changes to the R-EV. All versions of this get the new rotor-shaped badges on the front fenders, as well as an “E-Skyactiv R” badge on the back. It also has unique wheels. And, as shown above, there’s an Edition R model that gets a unique red roof, black body and Rotor logos in the headrests and Foot mats.

Exact availability has not been given, but the MX-30 R-EV will go on sale in Europe this year. Mazda has also previously said it will go on sale in the US in the 2023 model year.

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