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Mazda Introduces MX-30 Plug-In Hybrid with Rotary Engine

Mazda MX-30 R-EV Edition R | Photo: Mazda
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Daniel Rufiange
The MX-30 R-EV is expected to arrive sometime in 2023
Mazda MX-30 R-EV Edition R - Three-quarters rear
Mazda MX-30 R-EV Edition R - Three-quarters rear | Photo: Mazda

•    Mazda has introduced the MX-30 R-EV, the plug-in hybrid version of its small SUV.

•    The model offers a range of 85 km on the European cycle WLTP.

•    The primary purpose of the rotary engine is to recharge the battery. It acts as a range extender.

•    The model features a 50-litre tank to feed the rotary engine.

As promised last week, Mazda has unveiled the plug-in hybrid rotary-engine version of its MX-30 SUV. The model is unchanged in terms of its exterior design, apart from some unique badging, but it swaps a good part of its battery to make room for a gas tank. 

It also offers more power due to the combined work of the components making up the powertrain. Those include a battery the capacity of which has been cut in half, to 17.8 kWh. Mazda estimates that the range will be 85 km, a figure obtained on the more-generous European WLTP cycle. That could translate into something around 60 km in North America, which would make the model roughly competitive with its rivals. 

Mazda hasn't announced the total range with the gasoline engine, but the tank can hold 50 litres. Fuel consumption figures were not provided either. This will be an aspect to watch, as we know that rotary engines are usually less fuel-efficiant. 

The system at the heart of the MX-30 R-EV works as a straight hybrid. The gasoline engine generates electricity when needed (when the battery is low or the acceleration demanded requires additional electricity from the gasoline engine), rather than directly driving the wheels. The R-EV's electric motor is more powerful than the regular MX-30's, with 168 hp versus 143.

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Mazda MX-30 R-EV - Profile
Mazda MX-30 R-EV - Profile | Photo: Mazda

What's different about this model, of course, is the presence of a rotary engine, a technology not seen in 10 years in a new Mazda. 

Grafted onto the electric motor and connected to a generator, the rotary engine is called the 8C. It is composed of a single rotor with a displacement of 830cc. It has side intake and exhaust ports like the RX-8's Renesis engine, but it has direct fuel injection and an aluminum rotor case. It makes 75 horsepower on its own, but its job is only to generate electricity, not to propel the wheels.

Different driving modes can be selected by the driver, as is standard with this type of vehicle. The normal setting works in electric configuration, but when acceleration demand is high enough, it runs the gasoline engine to maintain the charge. It does the same when the battery is depleted for acceleration needs. 

Mazda MX-30 R-EV  - Logo
Mazda MX-30 R-EV - Logo | Photo: Mazda

There’s also a Charge mode that allows the driver to set a battery charge level that the car should aim for. It will maintain that state of charge when it is reached after the battery is drained, or it will recharge the battery as it can reach that level with the gas engine. 

And as far as recharging is concerned, it will be possible with direct current, but only at a rate of 36 kW. Mazda estimates that the charge can go from 20 to 80 percent in 25 minutes. In addition, the car has an auxiliary power port of 1,500 watts for powering appliances.

The MX-30 R-EV will go on sale in Europe this year. Mazda has said the model will launch in North America for the 2023 model-year.

Mazda MX-30 R-EV - From above
Mazda MX-30 R-EV - From above | Photo: Mazda
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists