The Rotary Revolution with a Green Heart – The MX-30 is ground-breaking because it heralds the return of the Rotary Engine, albeit, not quite as Mazda has previously used it. The Japanese company first deployed it in the futuristic 1967 Cosmo luxury coupe, but it enjoyed most fame in the iconic 1978 RX-7 sportscars, succeeded by the RX-8.
It’s been on hiatus for just over a decade, but maverick Japanese car company surprised everyone by reintroducing it in the 2024 Mazda MX-30 R-EV. The MX-30 was previously introduced as a full EV, but Mazda responded to criticisms that an otherwise well-received car, had insufficient driving range.
Here it is now reinvented (and available alongside the EV iteration still on sale and for the same price – £31,250), equipped with the same whirling dervish of an engine that guzzled fuel and oil like it was going out of style. But here’s the twist: it’s now a green-hearted generator in a new plug-in hybrid.
While visually unchanged from the EV version, the MX-30 R-EV remains unique with its rear-hinged back doors, that are reminiscent of those in RX-8. It’s like Mazda’s playing a nostalgic tune on a modern instrument.
Under the bonnet lives a single-rotor 839cc rotary engine, tiny but mighty, charging a 17.8kW battery pack. This ensemble belts out 170 horses and a torque that twists with 260 Newton meters of gusto, that’ll give it a 0-62mph acceleration time of 9.1 seconds while managing reach 87mph at the top end.
Electrically, you can zip around for about 53 miles before the rotary engine tips its hat and says, “Allow me.” Thanks to a 50-liter fuel tank you’ve got the range of a regular petrol car, but lower emissions (21g/km) and better economy (37.2-282.5mpg).
The boot space is a decent 350 litres. But wait, there’s more – you get a vehicle-to-load system, which just means you can plug in your gadgets into a proper three-pointed power-socket and play DJ in the middle of nowhere (or for the fridge while camping).
The rear seats are snug – as in cosy – not ideal for long-legged passengers though, especially if there’s also tall people in the front too. It works well for children, especially as the unique doors ease access to child seats. Keep in mind the short doors and wide C-pillars and can make it a little dark back here, so ensure your regular rear-occupants aren’t claustrophobic. The front features more spacious seats, well thought-out controls, and comprehensive infotainment screens.
There’s Apple CarPlay, charging, and a safety suite that would make a helicopter parent nod in approval. You navigate this tech wonderland with a rotary dial, because Mazda loves a good rotary theme!
On the move it doesn’t accelerate as hard as EV, you don’t need it to, but it’s not exactly lethargic either. Demand extra from it and the petrol engine will kick in, but it’s unobtrusive, faint even, you have to listen hard to detect its involvement. You can set how much charge you want to retain, and you can go through the modes and chose EV only, or you just let it do its thing – which will probably turn out to be the best option.
Around town it’ll glide quietly around, at speed and on longer runs the engine will be supporting it along, but don’t forget, it’s there merely to charge the battery and to give a boost when needed. The actual driving part is all EV.
The ride is excellent, not as stiff as we’ve come to expect from some EVs, and then there’s the handling, better than any family crossover needs to be, it’s an inherent part of Mazda’s core ingredients that dictate all their cars must have a modicum of engagement and well… fun factor. And the MX-30 R-EV is no different.
However, for most of the time it’s eminently easy to drive; watch out for some restriction in view to the rear, though parking will be aided by cameras. Essentially, it’s the best of all worlds, quiet and free of toxic pollution in town, long-legged enough for motorway runs over a distance, fun to fling about, coupe-like but a crossover, seemingly presented as a sporty two door, but actually capable of accommodating four, ultra-modern tech yet harking back to fond memories of high-spinning revs in racy little machines.
Trying too hard to be all things to all drivers then? Or a rule-breaking, rotary-reviving, road-hugging little rebel that’s as green as it is cool. Frankly it brings you the driveability and most of the eco-benefits of an EV, but in a far more usable package. So, if you’re in the market for a family-friendly, eco-hybrid that’s got personality put this Mazda on your shortlist.