Rotary power returns to the U.S.!
In quite a few different ways, the MX-30 flies against normal Mazda conventions. Its naming scheme (being the ‘MX’-30) is just one of them, as well as being the brand’s first all-electric model. It’s already on sale in Japan, and we knew at the time that it would ultimately make it to Europe. Only early this year did we know this small crossover EV would make it to the United States. Now, the company’s ready to officially announce what that launch will look like. Mazda announced some U.S. specs Wednesday, as well as a time table for the MX-30’s American arrival, but there’s a catch.
First, the details: Like the version launched overseas, we’ll get a single motor, front-wheel drive variant with 144 horsepower (107 kW) and 200 lb-ft of torque. That links up to a 35.5-kWh battery with DC fast charging capability up to 50 kW and charging times to 80% state-of-charge in roughly 36 minutes, per manufacturer estimates. On the WLTP cycle, range falls in the 124-mile ball park, so this car competes in a similar vein to, say, the BMW i3 or the current (40-kWh) Nissan Leaf. It’s not a powerhouse nor is it a long-range cruiser, but Mazda developed the vehicle that way.
On the range front, they do have an ace up their sleeve in the rotary engine range extender. Yes, for the first time since the RX-8 left the market nearly a decade ago, you can get a rotary back in your life. This time around, though, the engine won’t power the driven wheels. Instead, like the BMW i3’s range extender, it’s meant to operate as silently as possible and steadily recharge the relatively small battery. Official EPA range estimates aren’t out yet, so we’ll have to see how the all-electric figure shakes out and how many extra miles a range extender would add.
The interior is conventional Mazda, except where it isn’t
Look inside the Mazda MX-30, and it’s not nearly as outlandish as some of its EV rivals. Mind you, the car does get rear-hinged back doors like the old RX-8, and in terms of physical dimensions its roughly equivalent to the gas-powered CX-30 crossover. A floating center console contains an electronic shifter, while you also get Mazda’s conventional command dial and controls for the standard 8.8-inch infotainment system.
Here’s the catch with the Mazda MX-30, should you want one. It’s not a nationwide launch — the car will only be available in California this fall. Despite the limited scope, this is just the first of the electrified models we’ll see from the brand in the coming years. The statement also heralds that series hybrid with the rotary generator, a plug-in hybrid on their “large” platform (almost certainly under the next range of crossovers), and a conventional hybrid for their new American-built crossover. On that last one, we should see the U.S. model emerge from the company’s joint plant with Toyota in Alabama before too long.