2023 Mazda MX-30 R-EV range extender hybrid unveiled: The Wankel engine is back!

2023 Mazda MX-30 R-EV range extender hybrid unveiled: The Wankel engine is back!

Mazda has unveiled its first rotary engine car in ten years – and it’s a city SUV with plug-in hybrid power. However, an Australian launch is thought to be at least 12 months away.

The legendary Mazda Wankel engine is back in the 2023 Mazda MX-30 range-extender plug-in hybrid SUV – but it’s believed to be at least 12 months away from Australian showrooms.

Officially dubbed the MX-30 e-SkyActiv R-EV, the first rotary-engined Mazda in a decade brings the legendary engine back to life as a ‘range extender’ in a plug-in hybrid system that recharges the battery as soon as it runs out.

Mazda Australia has previously expressed interest in introducing the R-EV in Australia – but drive understands that it would not reach local showrooms until next year at the earliest, as the Japanese company focuses on launching other new models this year.

In the UK, the R-EV range extender is priced similarly to the all-electric model – a car listed in Australia at $65,490 plus road costs.

The front wheels of the MX-30 R-EV are always powered by an electric motor with 122 kW and 260 Nm, fed by a 17.8 kWh battery.

But once it’s used up – reportedly after a claimed 85km of pure electric driving – the 830cc (0.83-litre) rotary engine kicks in to charge the battery and uses a 50-litre fuel tank to achieve a maximum range of . more than 500 km”.

The industry term for the MX-30 R-EV is a series plug-in hybrid – referring to the fact that the rotary engine can only power the battery rather than drive the wheels directly, and that the battery can be recharged by plugging it in. in addition to charging while driving.

Mazda claims the battery can be charged in “about” 50 minutes from a three-phase AC outlet, while a DC quick charger is said to do the same in half the time. Information on the charging capacity is not given.

For comparison, the electric Mazda MX-30 uses a 35.5kWh battery and 107kW front electric motor for a claimed range of 224km and a 20-80 percent DC fast charge time of 36 minutes.

Mazda claims the 17.8kWh battery – possibly from the new CX-60 PHEV SUV, which has an identically sized pack – was “selected to ensure enough capacity for an all-electric range of 85km, during … taking into account the environmental impact of the battery over the entire vehicle life cycle.”

For rotary fans and techies, the 830cc engine is a single rotor with a rotor radius of 120mm and a rotor width of 76mm and is said to be 15kg lighter than the twin-rotor Renesis engine in the last RX-8, thanks to the use of aluminium .

The engine – known as the “8C” – is also direct injected to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, and an exhaust gas recirculation system is fitted “to improve efficiency at low rpm and low load operation,” according to Mazda.

“The new 8C rotary engine…allows for coaxial placement and integration with the electric motor, retarder and alternator to achieve a unit with an overall width of less than 840mm, allowing it to fit under the hood without any modifications to the MX-30 body fits the frame,” says Mazda in its press release.

The Japanese automaker says it has produced 1.9 million rotary engines since the Mazda Cosmo sports car was launched in 1967 and production of the RX-8 ended in 2012.

The return of the legendary engine has been on the cards since the last RX-8 was built, as Mazda has unveiled several rotary engine concepts and prototypes – from city cars to sports cars – and has filed many rotary engine-related patents over the past decade.

There are three modes – led by Normal, which drives the car in pure electric mode until the battery runs out and the engine needs to be turned on or more power is needed than the battery alone can deliver to the electric motor.

EV mode locks the car in electric mode until the battery runs out – unless maximum power is needed for rapid acceleration – while Charge allows the driver to keep battery capacity at a specified level or turn the rotary engine on to use charging.

The MX-30 range extender looks no different in standard trim than the regular electric motor – and shares the same interior with three screens and cork highlights that pay homage to Mazda’s cork-making origins.

A special edition “Edition R” will be available for launch in Europe, with Jet Black paintwork contrasting with Maroon Rouge side pillars and roof panels, said to pay homage to Mazda’s first passenger car, the R360 coupe.

Limited to 400 examples for the UK – plus more for other European markets – the Edition R also adds debossing on the front seat headrests and rotating badges on the floor mats.

There is also a “single white line with 2.6mm seam” which Mazda says “corresponds to the width of the rotor tip seal grooves [inside the engine]” – plus a key with “horizontal sides that curve at the same angle as the sides of the rotor”.

the 2023 Mazda MX-30 e-SkyActiv R-EV is available to order now in the UK, ahead of the first delivery in Europe before mid-year.

The Australian launch date is yet to be determined, however drive understands it’s due no earlier than 2024 – as Mazda’s focus this year is on the new six-cylinder and hybrid CX-60 SUV, due out in June, as well as the larger CX-90 due out later in the year showrooms (although timing is unconfirmed).

Prices in the UK start from £31,250 (AU$55,000) – matching equivalent electric versions – while top-of-the-range R-EV variants cost £450 (AU$800) more than equivalent electric versions.

One MX-30 Electric model is offered in Australia – the E35 Astina, which starts at $65,490 plus road cost. The last rotary Mazda sold in Australia, the RX-8 sports car, started at US$49,940 plus road costs.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017 when he launched his own website Redline. He worked for Drive in 2018 before joining CarAdvice in 2019 and becoming a regular journalist on the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role in Alex’s life, from leafing through car magazines at a young age to growing up surrounded by performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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