The MX-30 R-EV features a 17.5kWh battery that feeds the front wheels via an electric motor. That battery is fed by both a plug when stationary, regenerative braking when slowing down and an 830cc single-rotor rotary power unit which sits up front. On the move, it effectively acts as a range extender with no physical connection to the wheels. Unlike the BMW i3 range extender, which works very similarly (and also has suicide doors, go figure), the MX-30 R-EV has quite a large 50-litre fuel tank, which is what informs the impressive jump in range.
The rotary can also boost the performance of the MX-30 R-EV when you ask for hard acceleration. The electric range is around 40 miles in the real world but the rotary usually fires up before you’re below 40 per cent electric range. So expect that thrumming mill to fire up after about 20-25 miles of driving and it really does add a good degree of versatility.
It is a thrummer too, very much letting cabin occupants know it’s out there turning hydrocarbons into electrons. It will not almost under any circumstances run while the car is sat still and will take almost every opportunity to cut out and let the battery and motors handle things themselves. Even if the battery is low, if you’re going downhill and the battery isn’t being taxed, the engine will cut. The way you keep it on, is by forcing ‘Charge’ mode, which allows you to select a desired charge level – as low as 40 per cent and up to 100 per cent, if that wasn’t obvious – that the car will aim for as you continue your journey.
You might not want to, though. Just as the 787B is an acquired taste of raw noise, the MX-30, which of course is from the other end of the rotary multiverse, makes a bit more noise than you’d like when it’s running. We’d even go as far as to say it’s a bit of a droner, especially when going slow enough that road noise doesn’t mask it. The performance is okay, with the addition of the range extender allowing the headline 170PS (125kW) figure. At least, it’s good at average speeds. Don’t expect to be executing scalpel-sharp, smooth fast overtakes at A-road and motorway speeds. The re-gen is fine too, with not too much of a sense of the crossover from motor to disc and pad. It’s also adaptable, with the strongest mode allowing for one-pedal driving even in sturdy slowdown situations.
In terms of the chassis? Well, it’s a Mazda which has always seemed to be a byword for ‘better than you’d expect, or than it has any right to be’. It steers well, if not with too much feel and the body roll is well judged, albeit there is quite a bit of it if you push too hard. This is a car that feels nice, with a well-judged chassis, over a flowing road at six or seven tenths, which sadly, is more than can be said for many cars of its ilk.