2023 Mazda MX-30 PHEV Brings Back Rotary Engine As Range Extender

Mazda has found a solution for the MX-30 EV’s notorious range problem. No, it’s not a bigger battery pack – its capacity is actually cut in half – but a rotary gasoline engine that provides lots of additional range. 

Making its world debut at the Brussels Motor Show today, the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV plug-in hybrid crossover targets customers who want to drive an EV as often as possible in everyday life, but do not want to worry about range or charging stops on longer journeys.

Unlike most plug-in hybrids on the market today, Mazda relies on a series hybrid drivetrain in which the wheels are always driven by a front-mounted synchronous electric motor, which produces 125 kilowatts (168 horsepower) and 260 Newton-meters (192 pound-feet) of torque.

Gallery: 2023 Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV

The motor draws energy from a 17.8 kWh battery pack – half the capacity of the MX-30 EV’s 35.5-kWh unit – which enables an EV driving range of 85 kilometers (53 miles) on the WLTP test cycle. That’s less than half the MX-30 EV’s 200-kilometer (124-mile) WLTP range rating.

But while the EV needs to stop to recharge its battery after 100 or so miles (in the best-case scenario), the PHEV has a ace up its sleeve in the form of a compact rotary engine that includes a generator. Fueled by a 50-liter (13.2-gallon) tank located in front of the rear axle, the ICE increases overall range to over 600 kilometers (372 miles).

Compact rotary engine said to sip just 1 liter of gas per 100 km

The range extender is a newly developed single-rotor engine with a combustion chamber volume of 0.83 liters. It produces 55 kW (74 hp) and 116 Nm (85 lb-ft) on its own and it works with direct gasoline injection and a high compression ratio of 11.9:1 – both of which are said to significantly improve efficiency.

The engine is also fitted with an exhaust gas recirculation system (EGR) to further increase efficiency and a three-way catalytic converter with a gasoline particle filter to ensure the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV meets the strict Euro 6d-ISC-FCM exhaust gas standard including the real driving emissions (RDE) test.

The compact rotary engine and electric drive motor are housed together at the front

Speaking of efficiency, Mazda claims the MX-30 PHEV has combined fuel consumption (WLTP) of 1.0 liters of gasoline per 100 km (235 mpg US), which corresponds to CO2 emissions of 21 g/km. That’s obviously in addition to the power consumption of 17.5 kWh per 100 km (WLTP).

Another advantage according to Mazda is the rotary engine’s very little vibration and silent operation due to its design; combined with the fact the electric motor is the only one driving the wheels, the driving experience is said to be comparable to that of the fully electric MX-30.

Small 17.8 kWh battery supports DC fast charging

Speaking of the EV experience, recharging the battery takes one hour and 40 minutes using the standard three-phase AC charger on an 11 kW wall box. DC fast charging is also possible, with the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV said to need 25 minutes to go from 20 percent to 80 percent SoC at stations with 36 kW or more of charging power. The Mazda MX-30 PHEV is compatible with Type 2 and CCS charging systems.

Three selectable driving modes are available: EV, Normal, and Charge. In EV mode, the vehicle is powered exclusively by the battery until the charge level has dropped to zero percent, at which point the rotary engine kicks in.

Normal mode combines electric driving with maximum performance, running exclusively on battery energy up to a charge level of just over 40 percent, when the range extender takes over to maintain the battery charge status.

In Charge mode, the driver can set a specific battery charge level that the system will maintain. The top speed is limited to 140 km/h (87 mph) in all driving modes, while the sprint from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes 9.1 seconds.

From a styling standpoint, the MX-30 PHEV looks just like the EV model with the exception of specific badging – including rotor badges on the front fenders – and 18-inch alloys in an exclusive design.

The Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV will be sold in five trim levels in select European markets, but not in the US, where only the EV is available for the 2023 model year. In Germany, the plug-in hybrid’s starting price is identical with the MX-30 EV’s at €35,990 ($39,050). Customers can place orders from February 1, 2023.

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