Mazda’s first electric car is called the MX-30 and was introduced four years ago. However, the stylish city car was only offered with a 35.5kWh battery, on which, according to the tables, it traveled 200 kilometers. However, the reality was even lower, especially during the winter months.

Not that the Japanese couldn’t handle a bigger battery, but they wanted to maintain favorable driving characteristics with a smaller and lighter solution. At the same time, they came up with an interesting idea – if you replace the entire battery with a new one after 160,000 kilometers, the car will still be kinder to the planet than an internal combustion car. Nice idea, but tell that to the driver who already has to think about the next charging stop after 100 kilometers.

The solution to the burning problem began to be discussed only a few months after the premiere of the model. Install a bigger flashlight in the MX-30? Nowhere. Mazda once again went its own way and decided to supplement the electric drive with an internal combustion engine. Specifically the Wankel, with the rotary engine returning under the hood of the Japanese manufacturer after eleven years! We were able to test how the brand new drive works in the vicinity of Augsburg, Germany, where Mazda, by the way, has a beautiful museum and a rich warehouse. But about that sometime next time…

Photo: Mazda

The rotary engine in the guts is revealed only by details, such as small emblems on the front fenders.

It sounds promising

A little theory before the first kilometers. We learn from the engineers that the battery in the guts is now half the size, but it is supplemented by a fifty-liter fuel tank. Not even a number of “normal” cars offer such a volume today, let alone electrified ones. When the car is fully charged and filled to the brim, the MX-30 should manage up to 680 kilometers without stopping at a charger or pump. That sounds significantly more usable, doesn’t it?

The newly developed Wankel has 74 horsepower and 116 newton meters, the total performance has improved from the original 145 to 170 horsepower. The internal combustion engine does add some extra kilos, on the other hand, the smaller battery reduced the weight. And so the curb weight is still the same at 1,645 kilograms. The novelty takes 9.1 seconds to reach 100 km/h (six tenths less than an electric car), in both cases the limiter cuts you off at a speed of 140 km/h.

Who is he?

The Wankel rotary engine here works exclusively as an electrical power generator, so there is no direct connection to the spinning front axle. Internally designated 8C, the novelty has atmospheric filling, direct fuel injection and a single spark plug. And also a single rotor with a volume of 830 cc.

So is it an electric car with a range extender or a plug-in hybrid? The brand itself talks about the second option. After discharge, the car can only run on gasoline and will therefore appear in the statistics as a PHEV. But you won’t lose the advantages of electric brands, with tabular emissions of 21 g CO2/km you can safely reach them even with a Wankel.

Photo: Mazda

The battery is stored in the floor, the rotary engine in the traditional place under the hood. The car shares the platform with the internal combustion CX-30, so installing the internal combustion engine was not too difficult.

It runs for one and eleven liters

For the first trip, we charge the car to 92%, while the on-board computer promises 67 electric kilometers and a total range of less than four hundred. This is significantly less than what was promised in the first paragraphs. However, the current range is calculated based on recent average consumption, so we don’t take it too seriously.

For the first thirty kilometers we cruise through flat German districts, the pace only picks up once within a short section of highway. After all, this is the only time when the internal combustion engine gets to speak. The connection itself is smooth, but a gentle hum and small vibrations start to penetrate the cabin. Not exactly disturbing, but we know about the presence of the incinerator. At the end of the route, a consumption of 1.0 l and 17.5 kWh per 100 kilometers lights up in the chapel, with fifty-seven percent remaining in the battery. In reality, you can drive 70 electric kilometers without any problems.

Three modes

The Mazda MX-30 can be operated in three driving modes – Normal initially runs on electricity, but at 45% battery it starts saving energy and relies more on the Wankel. EV mode is very similar, only it lets you completely discharge the battery. That is, almost, there is still at least a small reserve to help with flexible acceleration. And the Charge mode – following the example of other plug-in hybrids – allows you to recharge the battery by driving between 20 and 100 percent.

Photo: Mazda

The instrument panel displays everything important. When the internal combustion engine is running, a Wankel icon appears in the lower right.

What about a dead battery? In this case, the rotary engine already sips from the tank more significantly. Eight to nine liters in the districts, over eleven liters on the highway. Therefore, regular charging is not mandatory, but it is necessary for the economical operation of the entire system. The electric version recharges with a power of up to 50 kW, with the new model it is a slightly more modest 36 kW, but with a smaller battery it does not matter so much.

The good news is that even without electric power, the desire to accelerate does not wane. Of course, considering the parameters, the MX-30 is not a pure sports equipment, but the enhanced version will pleasantly surprise you with its dynamics. Safe overtaking is excellent, acceleration is very linear. Even at speeds above 100 km/h, it willingly “picks up” up to the electronically limited maximum.

Photo: Mazda

From other models of the brand, the MX-30 is distinguished by touch control of the air conditioning. Even in the highest equipment, it is not dual-zone, which, given the purchase price, freezes.

The rest is just as good

The electric MX-30 already pleased us with its driving characteristics, which do not change in the case of the plug-in hybrid. The chassis is stiffer, but still with comfortable suspension. Perhaps the fact that it was tuned for a single eighteen-inch shoe is also an advantage, the Japanese crossover does not offer any other size. The steering is sharp and precise, the driving characteristics are neutral for a long time. Sure, it’s not a lightweight go-kart, but I dare to say that this car can even entertain you a little behind the wheel!

The “thirty” remains the same in other aspects as well. It still has cork decoration inside (the production of which Mazda started many years ago) or a non-touch multimedia screen in the middle. It is controlled exclusively by the wheel on the center console. Although this takes some getting used to at first, you will never have to touch the screen again.

You get into the back row through counter-opening (so-called suicide) doors, which is a compromise between a three-door car and a classic five-door. In narrow parking spaces, you need more space to open (in addition, the back door cannot be opened earlier than the front), and then it is easier to access the back with, for example, a child car seat. The materials inside are refined, the equipment rich. However, the purchase price is also close to a million…

The Mazda MX-30 in the initial Prime-line equipment starts at 949,000 CZK, and the difference between the two versions is exactly zero crowns. So it’s up to you whether you want a pure electric car or a new plug-in hybrid. Personally, I would not hesitate for a long time, due to the short range of the electric version, the new product is many times more usable even outside the city, you will not lose a well-crafted cabin or great driving characteristics. But there is still the purchase price, which will be limiting for many Czech customers.

Which Mazda MX-30 do you like more?

Electric, a range of 200 km is more than enough.

A total of 2 readers voted.