Between nose and lips, seemingly nonchalantly, Mazda brought a piece of news during the introduction of the electric Mazda MX-30 that made our car hearts beat faster: Mazda is bringing back the Wankel engine!
Mazda MX-30 with range extender
When we were allowed to try out the Mazda MX-30 in June ( read our driving test ), we immediately noticed how nice this fully electric car drives. Normally, electric cars feel a bit unwieldy because they carry a considerable weight of batteries, which negatively affects driving behavior. Mazda did not do this, however: the MX-30 has a modest battery pack on board.
The result: a very smooth electric Mazda. But a small battery pack also has an obvious disadvantage: the driving range. The Mazda MX-30 is only 200 kilometers away on a full battery, and that is under the right conditions. This is more than enough for most rides, yet this limited range will keep buyers from buying the MX-30.
To offer these people a suitable MX-30, there will be an MX-30 with range extender. That sounds complicated, but it is no more than a petrol engine that assists the electric motor and thus provides a longer range. In addition, filling up with petrol for the range extender takes less time than charging the battery.
That is very smart from Mazda. But the best thing is: the range extender is a Wankel motor!
What is a Wankel engine?
In contrast to a conventional car engine, a Wankel engine does not have moving cylinders and pistons, but a kind of metal triangle, the rotor, which spins in circles in a closed chamber. In one cycle, fuel enters, ignites and exhaust fumes disappear. Although it is originally a German invention, in recent history it is only Mazda that used the Wankel engine in its cars. The last Wankel engine in a production car was in the Mazda RX-8, which was produced until 2012.
The Wankel engine is very efficient because the combustion energy directly leads to a rotating movement. The acceleration is very direct, making it very suitable for sports cars. Because a Wankel motor is compact and has few rotating parts, it is cheaper to produce. However, there are also disadvantages: Wankel engines consume more oil, especially on short journeys, and the corners of the rotor, which must provide sealing, often close quickly. Fuel consumption is also higher.
Mazda therefore chooses to get its showpiece, the Wankel engine (or rotary engine, as they call it) back from the stable. Rumors that Mazda was working on improving this engine had been around for a while, but no one knew what Mazda was going to use the engine for. But with the introduction of the MX-30, Mazda announced a version with a range extender, and confirmed that it would be a Wankel engine. Under the hood of the MX-30, space has been specially reserved for this.
Mazda again shows that it is at the forefront of innovations. Not only do they still fully believe in the Wankel engine, but they also showed last year with the Skyactiv-X engine that they have not finished developing even with more traditional engines ( read our driving test of the Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X ). The relatively small car manufacturer still claims its own place in the car world.