Categories: Tests

Mazda MX-30 R-EV (2023) review: the rotary engine resurrected!

The Mazda MX-30 R-EV is a plug-in hybrid version of the popular urban crossover released in 2020 by the Japanese manufacturer. While the original MX-30 EV offered good standard equipment and comfortable features, its limited range was a concern for those with range anxiety. With the R-EV version, Mazda addresses this issue by introducing a rotary engine as a generator to power a more powerful electric motor. This unconventional approach sets the MX-30 R-EV apart from other plug-in hybrids and brings back memories of the iconic RX-8 with its rotary engine. But does this technical peculiarity deliver the expected range?

Technique: a rotary engine as a generator

The MX-30 R-EV surprises under the hood with the addition of a small 830 cm3 rotary motor, producing 74 hp. This rotary motor acts as a generator, directly connected to the thermal block, and provides power to an electric motor with 125 kW (170 hp), which is 25 hp more powerful than the electric motor in the original MX-30 EV. The battery capacity is reduced from 35.5 kWh to 17.8 kWh, and a 50-liter fuel tank is placed under the rear seat to supply the thermal block. Thanks to the compact design of the rotary engine and its simplified construction, Mazda engineers managed to accommodate both engines and the generator under the hood.

Design: an additional fuel flap

The MX-30 R-EV retains the same design as its all-electric counterpart, measuring 4.40 m in length, 1.56 m in height, and 1.80 m in width. The front features Mazda’s distinctive sharp look, while the large all-plastic wheel arches give it an SUV appearance. The rear maintains the fastback-type design, and the absence of a second door adds to its intriguing character. The trunk capacity remains unchanged at 338 liters. The R-EV version can be distinguished by the addition of a fuel flap on the left rear wing, an R-EV e-Skyactiv inscription on the tailgate, new rims, and a special small logo on the wings depicting a rotary engine with an “e” for electric inside.

Interior: pure pragmatism

The interior of the MX-30 R-EV remains unchanged from the original model, featuring high-quality materials such as leather, fabric, foamed plastics, and non-slip cork. The presentation is elegant, with a small central counter supported by two physical needle counters for the driver. A head-up display enhances visibility while driving. The dashboard includes a small horizontal screen for navigation, controlled through a wheel on the floating center console. The center console also houses a touchscreen for air conditioning controls. The rear seating space is adequate but somewhat limited in legroom and headroom, and the non-opening quarter panels reduce the welcoming atmosphere.

Driving: high consumption

The MX-30 R-EV offers a comfortable driving experience, thanks to its permanently connected electric motor. However, the activation of the rotary motor during specific phases can disturb the overall calmness. In “Normal” mode, the car draws energy from the battery until it reaches 45% before the thermal engine activates to maintain that charge level. The “Charge” mode allows the driver to plan the desired battery percentage upon arrival at the destination, within the fuel reserve capacity. The “EV” mode draws energy solely from the 17.8 kWh battery until depletion, after which the thermal engine provides power for the electric motor. The rotary motor is barely audible but can be noisy at times, and some vibrations in the floor and pedals can be felt. The driving experience is smooth and quiet in the city, but the rotary engine runs continuously on the expressway. The car’s behavior is not extremely agile, and the additional weight of the MX-30 R-EV compared to the EV version affects its performance in sharp turns. However, the suspension provides good comfort, smoothing out road roughness.

Verdict: the rotary engine justified?

The MX-30 R-EV brings a unique approach to plug-in hybrids with its rotary engine and electric motor combination. While the idea is interesting from a technical standpoint and improves range compared to the all-electric version, the average consumption remains disappointing. Mazda aims to reassure customers who are hesitant to switch to all-electric vehicles, but the MX-30 R-EV may not deliver the desired fuel efficiency. In terms of charging, it takes about 50 minutes to fully charge the battery at 11 kW or 25 minutes with a 36 kW charger. The MX-30 R-EV starts at €38,250 and comes well-equipped, with the price potentially rising to €43,050 for higher trims.

Technical specifications

  • Model: Mazda MX-30 R-EV
  • Version: e-SkyActiv
  • Trim: Makoto
  • Price: €43,050
  • Engine type: Hybrid (electric + rotary motor)
  • Power: 170 hp
  • Torque: 260 Nm
  • Fuel: Gasoline + electricity
  • Transmission: Traction
  • Gearbox: Automatic e-CVT
  • Fuel tank capacity: 50 liters
  • Manufacturer acceleration: 9.1 s
  • Length: 4.40 m
  • Width: 1.80 m
  • Height: 1.56 m
  • Weight: 1,798 kg

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