It’s an interesting prospect and revives two technologies which have largely fallen out of favour at the same time: range extenders and the rotary (aka wankel) engine. Like other range extenders, such as the Vauxhall Ampera, the idea is that rather than installing a larger battery or using a traditional PHEV drivetrain, a small battery combined with a small engine used as a generator is employed. This makes for low emissions and a lighter package than a regular PHEV.
The MX-30 e-Skyactic R-EV also makes a lot of sense as the pure EV’s 35.5kWh battery doesn’t exactly endow it with long range, offering just 124 miles.
Mazda has combined an 830cc, single-rotor petrol engine with a more powerful electric motor than in the fully EV MX-30, delivering 168bhp to the front wheels. Being a range extender, there is no mechanical linkage between the petrol motor and the wheels; it acts simply as a generator for the 17.8kWh battery, cutting in when charge runs out or to maintain a state of charge.
The advantage of this is three-fold compared to a traditional PHEV. Weight is kept down as there is no gearbox; it’s a more compact system with the small motor sitting next to the generator in the engine bay; it offers comparatively low emissions at just 21g/km (WLTP) as the petrol engine can hum away at an optimum RPM. Being a rotary, it’ll also be silky smooth.
On battery power alone, the MX-30 R-EV will do up to 53 miles. Add 50 litres of fuel into the equation, and the car is capable of over 400. Charging can be done on AC or rapid DC charging, taking around 50 minutes or 25 minutes respectively.
Mazda has given the MX-30 R-EV three driving modes depending on the driver’s requirements. Normal will use the battery alone until charge is depleted and then the rotary generator is engaged to supply the powertrain with electricity. It also engages the generator under acceleration to reduce the load on the battery.
In EV mode, the battery is the sole source of power unless under very heavy acceleration and only then does the generator kick in. It will also run the car on battery power until it is totally drained.
Charge mode enables drivers to maintain a state of charge. This can be useful to retain charge so that EV mode can be used in urban settings, minimising local emissions. Drivers can set the state of charge they want to maintain in increments of ten per cent. The car will then use the generator to charge to this level and once above it, will revert back to Normal driving mode, only reverting back to Charge mode when the battery drops below the desired charge level.
Externally and internally, the MX-30 R-EV is the same as the full EV version, details of which can be found here. Three grades are going to be available with 400 ‘Edition R’ grade cars coming to the UK. These get Maroon Rouge paintwork and various Edition R monikers throughout the car. The production grades are ‘Prime-Line’ which starts at £31,250, ‘Exclusive-Line’ which starts at £33,150, and ‘Makoto’ which starts at £35,550. The Edition R is priced from £37,950.
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