The rotary engine is back, baby! Except, this time around, it serves as a range extender for the Mazda MX-30's electric powertrain. So think more “BMW i3 in crossover form” than “new Mazda RX sports car.” It also gets a long, difficult-to-remember name: the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV.
Compared to the battery-only MX-30, the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV has a smaller 17.8 kWh battery that’s only good for 53 miles of range. But with the range-extending rotary engine, Mazda says owners can expect to go 400 miles on a tank of gas.
The 830cc single-rotor engine acts purely as a generator and doesn’t actually send any power to the wheels. But the motor that does drive the wheels is more powerful, making 168 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque instead of the 143 hp you get from the regular MX-30 that doesn’t have the rotary range extender. Paired with the smaller and therefore lighter battery, that means the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV should be quicker, although Mazda didn’t include acceleration figures in the press release.
In addition to the regular drive mode, there’s also an EV-only mode, as well as a Charge mode that will, as you may have guessed, recharge and keep the battery at a pre-determined charge level. It should also be noted that if you floor it in EV mode, the engine may kick in to make sure you have enough power to continue accelerating at full power.
As far as pricing goes, we only have numbers for the UK right now. But Mazda says the base MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV will cost £31,250, the same as the battery-only version. So assuming Mazda decides to bring it to the U.S., it should (at least in theory) start at $34,110 in the U.S. There’s also limited-run Edition R version that costs £37,950 and will be limited to 400 units in the UK. Whether that trim level will be offered in the U.S. still remains to be seen.
Rotary enthusiasts would probably have preferred to see their beloved engine return in an actual sports car, but hey. At least Mazda found a way to save the rotary. And who’s to say that there won’t be a future Mazda sports car that uses a similar range-extending rotary powertrain? It could happen. Mazda, please make that happen.