When it came to the Mazda MX-30, everyone agreed on two things. Oh, how nice it is and oh, what a shame that the range is so bad. With a very special plug-in hybrid version, the electric range is even less. Only you don't have to worry about that anymore.
On the outside, the Mazda MX-30 remains the special old one. Here is a compact SUV with a coupe-like roofline and rear doors that swing open backwards.
To see what makes the Mazda MX-30 R-EV truly unique, you have to dive under the hood. There you will now find not only an electric motor, but also a combustion engine. And not one of the traditional kind, but a rotary engine!
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Compared to a traditional four-stroke combustion engine, a rotary engine has a major advantage. Especially if you have to cram it into one room together with an electric motor: it is much more compact. In addition, rotary engines are known for their virtually vibration-free running.
It is no coincidence that Mazda uses a rotary engine in the plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30. The brand has a long history with this type of power source, also known as the 'Wankel engine'. Not because it wobbles - on the contrary - but because it was invented by the German engineer Felix Wankel.
Mazda perfected the concept and used Wankel's invention in numerous models. The last Mazda with a rotary engine as the main power source, the Mazda RX-8 (2003-2012). And now the special engine is back in the Mazda MX-30 R EV.
Unlike most plug-in hybrids, the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is not a parallel but a series hybrid. The 0.8-liter, 75 hp rotary engine is only used to crank the generator and never drives the wheels. The generator then supplies the drive battery (17.8 kWh) with power, which serves as an energy source for the electric motor (170 hp). When you drive away with a fully charged battery, the rotary motor is at rest, but as the power reserve dwindles, you will hear it grunting more and more often.
You can choose three driving modes: in Normal, the car decides whether or not the rotary engine should be switched on, for example during rapid acceleration. If you set the driving mode switch on the center tunnel to EV, you drive purely electrically. By selecting the charging mode, you can ensure that there is enough power later during your ride to drive purely electrically.
During the test drive in the rural area of Munich it appears once again that the Mazda MX-30 is a very pleasant driving car. Nice and direct and with a lot of feeling, without the steering becoming nervous or intrusive. The chassis clearly lets you know on short bumps that the road surface needs maintenance, but without this leading to brain or kidney damage.
The interior decoration with lots of recycled textiles and cork feels cozy and the space in the front gives no cause for complaints. Furthermore, we had almost forgotten what it is like to drive a car without an infotainment screen that tries to imitate a cinema: wonderfully relaxing.
Mazda gives the MX-30 R-EV a fully electric range of 85 kilometers. That is to say: when used under various conditions. In the city it even goes up to 110 kilometers. That certainly does not seem to be a theoretical value, as long as you do not drive too much on the highway. We used 15.3 kWh/100 km, but don't forget that we also used petrol.
The drive battery is not very large, which means that charging times are not too bad. On an 11 kW three-phase charger it goes from 10 to 80 percent in about 50 minutes. It charges quickly with a maximum of 36 kW and then you have to finish your coffee and cake in 25 minutes.
We were unable to approach the specified petrol consumption of 1.0 l/100 km (1 in 100) over two test routes. During a smooth ride on back roads, the speed varied between 50 and 100 km/h. The rotary engine secretly guzzled about 2.5 liters of petrol per 100 km (1 in 40), but when we drove on the autobahn between 120 and the top speed of 140 km/h, the average rose to 4.1 l/100 km (1 in 24.4). That does not immediately make the MX-30 a shocking drinking boat, but it is not impressive.
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The electric motor is nice and quiet and the tire and wind noise are also modestly present in the background. That's why it's all the more noticeable when the rotary engine goes to work. The sound is something between an espresso machine and a drill and it doesn't seem to belong to the car. As if the neighbor is doing some work two houses away, while your curtain rails are still wrapped and lying on the windowsill.
As a plug-in hybrid, the Mazda MX-30 has become a lot more practical and user-friendly with its range, but form still takes precedence over function. Not in the front, by the way, because there the car is sufficiently spacious and pleasant to use. The front doors open at a 90 degree angle, making it very easy to get in.
Towards the back seat it is a completely different story. For example, the suicide doors can only be opened if the front doors are already open. And if you successfully complete the exercise to get into the backseat, you will receive a high score for difficulty at the World Gymnastics Championships. In the Mazda the reward is more meager: there is no leg and headroom for adults. And then we are mild.
The plug-in hybrid Mazda MX-30 R-EV will be available at dealers in November. You can drive away with the Prime line for 36,990 euros. It has 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and safety features such as active cruise control, a head-up display and blind spot warning. The Exclusive Line with heated seats and steering wheel and keyless entry will cost you 37,990 euros.
Then it goes via the Advantage (39,290 euros) and Makoto (40,490) to the special Edition R (45,590 euros). The latter offers just about all the luxury you could wish for, plus a number of special external features. The main color is metallic black, but the roof edges are painted metallic red, the headrests also have a relief print in the shape of the engine's rotor and the mats have special orange labels.
I have always found the Mazda MX-30 to be a very nice car. It looks nice and drives pleasantly, but because of the limited range of 200 kilometers I never believed in the purely electric version. Since I rarely have more than one passenger with me, the mediocre usability of the rear seat is not a hindrance for me.
For anyone who feels the same way, the MX-30 R-EV is a welcome addition to the MX-30 range. As a car enthusiast, I greatly appreciate that Mazda is returning to its rich tradition with the rotary engine. From a purely practical point of view, however, I wonder whether it is indeed such a good move. Because despite the direct injection, the engine still does not excel in economy.
With a full tank (50 liters) and the battery empty, Mazda claims a range of 680 kilometers. This means that the rotary engine requires considerable amounts of gasoline for its generator work. The rather intrusive sound production is also not a strong argument in favor. The performance then? These are sufficient (0-100 km/h in 9.1 s), without impressing.
My expectation is that the plug-in hybrid MX-30 will provide a huge sales boost. In my opinion, it remains an enthusiast's car for people who want to drive something special and relatively durable, either in terms of design or technology, without being bothered by loading stress. Nice initiative, but not a car with bestseller potential.
This post was last modified on October 10, 2023 2:31 pm
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