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Mazda MX-30 range-extender revealed with rotary engine

Plug-in hybrid model will sit alongside existing EV.

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Mazda has revealed a plug-in hybrid version of its electric MX-30 crossover, powered in part by a new rotary petrol engine.

Unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show, the MX-30 R-EV takes elements of Mazda’s existing battery-powered electric car and adds a petrol-powered motor, extending the possible driving distance between visits to a charge point.

The newly-developed 74bhp rotary engine – similar in design to those used in famous Mazda sports cars like the RX-7 and RX-8 – has been slotted under the bonnet, alongside a 164bhp electric motor.

Unlike most petrol/electric plug-in hybrids however, the MX-30’s petrol engine never directly powers the wheels. Instead, it helps top up a 17.8kWh battery, which is then used to power the MX-30 R-EV’s electric motor.

It sees the return of a rotary engine in a Mazda after a lengthy period.

The result, says Mazda, is smooth and effortless performance, without the awkward interruption in power delivery that can be noticeable in some plug-in hybrid cars.

Mazda no doubt hopes that the R-EV goes some way to addressing the criticism of the regular MX-30 EV: notably its comparatively small range. While the fully-electric MX-30 offers a claimed 124 miles of range, Mazda suggests the R-EV should be able to cover ‘more than 400 miles’ before needing a top-up of petrol.

However, in order to squeeze in the necessary petrol-related elements like a 50-litre fuel tank, Mazda has halved the size of the battery – meaning the MX-30 R-EV can only travel a claimed 53 miles on electricity alone.

That may not sound like a lot, but it does put the MX-30 ahead of similarly priced rivals: a Renault Captur PHEV can only manage around 30 miles of electric-only range, for example.

The MX-30 R-EV should prove to be a touch more refined to drive than its rivals, too. Rotary engines tend to be much smoother, quieter and more free-revving than the regular piston engines of most cars, which all helps in an otherwise silent electric vehicle.

Mazda also claims no drop-off in performance once the battery charge has dropped: the MX-30’s top speed of a modest 87mph is achievable whichever way the car is being powered.

The addition of a petrol engine shouldn’t change the MX-30’s driving dynamics too much either: kerb weight is within a few dozen kilos of the fully-electric model, while its 0-60mph figure has actually improved by half a second.

Describing the MX-30 R-EV, Mazda UK managing director Jeremy Thomson said: “it’s a car that’s the perfect solution for customers who want an electric car for everyday usage but the flexibility to undertake longer journeys without the reliance on charging infrastructure.

The MX-30 R-EV is now available to order. (Mazda)

“With the option to choose either the pure electric MX-30 or the new R-EV version depending on their needs, our customers now have even more choice.”

The MX-30 R-EV is priced identically to the regular MX-30 EV – with ‘Prime-Line’ entry-level models starting at £31,250 on the road, and top-end ‘Makoto’ trim starting at £35,550.

An ‘Edition-R’ trim level, featuring a unique black and maroon colour scheme and rotary-inspired detailing, is available exclusively on the R-EV and is priced from £37,950.

The MX-30 R-EV is available to order immediately, with cars due to arrive in showrooms later this year.

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