Mazda has launched a third member of its quirky MX-30 crossover range: a plug-in hybrid using a brand new rotary engine as a generator.
This long-in-development model was once firmly on Mazda Australia’s agenda, but seemingly no longer, with the launch now being focused on Europe.
The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV revealed at the Brussels Motor Show today offers a claimed 85km of pure electric range, with the rotary engine then serving as a range-extender and booster.
Why a rotary? Mazda cites packaging benefits for one: Rotary engines are more compact than piston engines with the same output.
But in truth it’s always been eager to find a way to bring back one of its signature technologies for the electric age – in this case as a generator not a drive unit. Mazda’s last rotary, the RX-8, was discontinued in 2012.
Yet it appears unlikely to come to Australia, in the short-term at least.
“Globally, Mazda introduces models and powertrains to markets based on a multi-solution strategy that considers regional differences in energy production, environmental regulations, and customer needs,” the company’s local division told us.
“In Australia, this year we’re focussed on launching our new large platform hybrid models in Mazda CX-60 and Mazda CX-90, plus a range of updates across key model lines, including Mazda CX-8 and Mazda6.”
In other words, don’t look for it any time soon.
In Europe the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV joins the MX-30 M Hybrid (a very mild hybrid) and MX-30 pure EV, with its limited range.
The drive unit operates as a series hybrid rather than a parallel hybrid. That means the 55kW and 830cc displacement rotary engine’s job is to generate charge for the electric motor rather than directly driving the wheels.
The rotary will also spring to life when more power is required than the battery level can deliver to the motors – for example, when accelerating – based on the degree of accelerator opening. But it’s never directly connected to the wheels.
The MX-30 eSkyactiv R-EV derives its claimed 85km combined-cycle electric range from a 17.8kWh lithium-ion battery, which powers the 125kW and 260Nm front motor. It’s capable of a claimed 9.1 second 0-100km/h time.
This battery is the same as the one used in the larger CX-60 PHEV.
It’s on the larger side for a PHEV – ergo the longer than average 85km WLTP combined-cycle range, which extends past 100km in urban traffic when you can use more regenerative braking.
Once depleted, the new rotary engine with a 50L fuel tank kicks in. Mazda says it has fitted this latest rotary with better apex seals than its Renesis forebear and cut 15kg in weight using aluminium for the side housing.
Mazda has not said what fuel efficiency to expect when relying on this generator, nor therefore the car’s full range with tank and battery combined. Needless to say it’s a lot longer than the MX-30 pure EV’s 224km claim, making this model more suited to long trips.
The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV is compatible with single-phase and three-phase Type 2 AC charging, and rapid CCS charging at a maximum 36kW DC.
The battery can be charged from 20 per cent SoC to 80 per cent in approximately 25 minutes. One-phase 7.2kW normal AC wallbox charging will take approximately 90 minutes. The time on a home powerpoint isn’t specified, but you generally trickle charge overnight.
The MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV also supports vehicle-to-load (V2L) power supply functionality up to 1500kW.
- Motor power: 125kW and 260Nm
- Driven wheels: Front
- Battery: 17.8kWh capacity, 188kg weight
- Driving range WLTP: 85km
- Petrol generator: 830cc rotary
- Compression ratio: 11.9:1
- Maximum output: 55kW at 4700
- Maximum torque: 116Nm at 4,000
- Direct injection
- Intake port type: Side
- Total intake ports: 2
- Exhaust port setup: Side
- Total exhaust ports: 2
- Apex seals 2.5 mm wide, 2-split cast iron
We spoke with Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak back in March 2022 about the local plans for the MX-30 rotary, and the answer was positive for local buyers who want an even quirkier offering.
“It will be unveiled this year,” he said, before the car was obviously delayed. “It’s definitely getting very close to production, pretty much the development is done on the car. We’re excited.”
However, the company changed its tune in the interim, with Mr Doak telling us more recently in October that its Australian prospects had become cloudier – perhaps no surprise given the MX-30 EV’s modest sales here.
“The car does exist and will exist,” said Mr Doak, adding the MX-30 rotary range-extender was still on the local division’s wish list. “I think next year it will be unveiled, and from there I’m not quite sure if it will come to Australia.”
Now we know it’s not here for at least the next 12 months.
Last year, Mazda did submit a range of trademarks to IP Australia for the naming rights to ‘e-SKYACTIV R-HEV’ and ‘e-SKYACTIV R-EV’, so perhaps in time…
MORE: Everything Mazda MX-30