Rotary-Engined Mazda MX-30 Revealed With 400 Miles Of Plug-In Hybrid Range

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With more power, it'll also nearly quadruple the EV's driving range.

Mazda has officially unveiled the return of the rotary engine, but instead of being in a sports car, it's as a range extender option in the MX-30 EV crossover. Officially called the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV, the range extender model debuts an all-new single-rotor Wankel engine mounted under the hood that acts as an electrical generator, powering the electric motor and not the wheels. This effectively turns the MX-30 into a series plug-in hybrid, a principle similar to the old Chevrolet Volt.

The newly developed engine, called the 8C, is a direct-injection, single-rotor powertrain displacing 0.83 liters. This makes the individual rotor capacity larger than that of the 13B-Renesis from the old Mazda RX-8. This marvel of a spinning Dorito produces 74 horsepower at a lowly 4,700 rpm. The reason is simple - instead of needing to be wrung out, the engine can operate steadily at relatively low rpm, attaining maximum efficiency while powering the electric motor. That motor is a 168-hp (125 kW) electric motor powering the front wheels, increasing outputs over the regular MX-30's 143 ponies.

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But how much range does it provide? According to the WLTP test cycle, Mazda claims over 400 miles can be driven. However, the electric range of the MX-30 has been decreased from 124 miles to just 53 miles (based on WLTP calculations). That's because the battery capacity has been halved, now measuring 17.8 kWh instead of the BEV variant's 35.5 kWh pack. EPA figures will vary, but in the US, the regular version has a range of only 100 miles, so on electricity alone, the MX-30 R-EV will likely manage about 40.

The rotary engine is fed by a 13.2-gallon (50-liter) gas tank, but again, Mazda hasn't made any claims as to how far that'll take you.

Performance-wise, a top speed of 87 mph mimics that of the MX-30 BEV.

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Sacrilegiously so, Mazda claims the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV embodies the Jinba Ittai driving philosophy, translating as "horse and rider as one" and traditionally used as the development ethos of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Features such as Electronic G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus) and 'shift paddles' on the steering wheel to control brake regen levels are said to aid this philosophy.

Three drive modes are available: Normal, EV, and Charge.

Normal mode relies purely on the battery and electric motor, provided you've plugged in and charged the car like a regular EV. In this mode, high-load maneuvers like sudden acceleration or driving up steep hills will see the rotary engine kick in to supply charge directly to the battery.

EV mode forces the car to rely on the battery as much as possible, utilizing only battery power until such time as the battery pack is drained, after which the rotary will kick in.

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Lastly, Charge mode maintains the battery's state of charge (SOC), which can be set by the driver in increments of 10%. Mazda claims this is ideal to ensure you have enough electric juice to get home quietly on electric power in the evening or when you need to maintain charge to use at a campsite. That's because the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV also acts as a mobile power source with V2L (vehicle-to-load) functionality that can run devices of up to 1,500 Watts via a power outlet in the trunk.

In this mode, the rotary engine will switch on and off as needed to ensure the battery level remains stable.

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To commemorate the revival of the rotary engine, which ended production in the RX-8 in June 2012, the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV will be launched with a special Edition R model; R stands for 'return,' not 'rotary.' This model features unique design traits, the most prominent of which is the Maroon Rouge Metallic roof pillars and exterior accenting over a black base body (the main roof panel is also black). Mazda claims the color is inspired by the roof color of the R360 Coupe - Mazda's first passenger car - which also donated this special hue to a slew of 100th Anniversary special editions revealed in 2020.

Even regular models receive special badging denoting the rotary engine.

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The red hue is also used inside the cabin for the interior trim, where owners can enjoy Edition R floor mats with orange tags and stitching and a chrome-plated MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV badge. The leather seats also feature an embossed emblem and the Edition R logo.

The Edition R receives a unique key fob with the horizontal edges of the front panel curbing at the exact angle as the rotor, and the sculpted sides measure 2.5 millimeters wide, mimicking the thickness of the motor's apex seals. A special Edition R logo is embossed on the fob.

Pricing and whether or not the rotary MX-30 will even come to America have not yet been publicized, but we'll hopefully learn this and the total driving range in the near future. We expect it to arrive in the US, though, as it has been promised since before the launch of the regular version, and the standard EV's dismal range has massively affected sales volumes.

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