The rotary returns. Mazda will debut the version of the MX-30 with a Wankel engine as a range extender on January 13 at the Brussels Motor Show. This model will be available in Europe in the spring.
Specific details about the engine's displacement and other mechanical details will likely arrive at the vehicle launch. Mazda previously said that the rotary runs at a constant speed to serve as a range extender for recharging the battery while on the road. The company touted this solution as combining the benefits of an EV with the range of a combustion-powered vehicle.
Gallery: 2022 Mazda MX-30: First Drive
The range is a shortcoming of the current version of the MX-30. The 35.5-kilowatt-hour battery provides an WLTP-estimated range of 124 miles (200 kilometres). The rotary engine should help improve this figure but would add weight to the vehicle.
The MX-30 uses a single electric motor driving the front wheels that makes 143 bhp (107 kilowatts) and 200 pound-feet (271 Newton-metres). The setup pushes the vehicle to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 87 mph (140 kph).
Mazda's announcement only mentions the rotary range-extender for the European market. In 2021, the automaker's North American operations boss said the Wankel-equipped version was eventually coming to the US. He didn't offer any specific timing for the availability.
In the US, Mazda limited MX-30 EV availability to just 505 units and sold them exclusively in California. It's not clear whether the company plans to bring more into the country for the 2023 model year.
Mazda's use of the Wankel rotary engine dates back to the 1960s when the Japanese automaker licensed the tech from NSU. Mazda introduced the powerplant on the Cosmo that it showed at the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show.
The RX-8 was the last Wankel-powered car available to customers, and it retired in 2012. The company's engineers continued development on the engine, though. They even patented new innovations for the powerplant.
For a deeper discussion about the MX-30, check out this episode of Rambling About Cars: