Next-gen ‘NE’ Mazda MX-5 getting e-Skyactiv R-EV rotary hybrid – report

Brett Davis

The next-gen Mazda MX-5, codenamed the NE, will reportedly come with the rotary range-extender powertrain that recently debuted in the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV. If so, it’ll come in as the first electrified MX-5.

The next-gen MX-5 is set to separate from the current Fiat 124/Abarth 124 partnership and instead become its own model. And yep, with rotary power.

Although it’s not the ‘RX’ sports car we’ve all been waiting for, in changing times where efficiency and low emissions are the key focus having a rotary act as a range-extender might be better than no rotary at all.

In the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV, Mazda teamed a new 830cc single-rotor petrol engine, which produces 55kW, with a 17.8kWh battery and electric motor system. The output provided to the wheels is 122kW and 260Nm.

That might not seem like much, but considering the MX-5 has always been about lightness and agility and not outright power, that amount of power might do just fine. Especially if Mazda manages to keep weight to an absolute minimum. There’s also the chance engineers could tweak the system for the roadster.

So, what’s the point of the rotary? It is basically an on-board generator that kicks in ot charge the battery, while the rest of the car drives pretty much like a regular EV. This means drivers won’t need to plug it in to maintain a good driving range. Although, plugging into a socket is still available.

In some ways it is the best of both worlds, as exhaust emissions are minimal but you still have the convenience of being able to stop by at any petrol station to continue driving. However, this type of setup is a complicated one.

Nissan adopts a similar package in the latest X-Trail e-Power, whereby the petrol engine does not physically connect to and drive the wheels. It is only there to supply power to optimise battery range.

In the next MX-5, if the information turns out to be accurate, an electric motor could provide a nice uptick in low-down torque. We’ve also heard rumours of a manual transmission remaining, but so far no mainstream car brand has managed to offer an EV with a manual gearbox.

As for the styling, as pointed out in the aforementioned report, Mazda may have given us a little sneak peak of the styling in its mid-term presentation late last year. Towards the end of the video (linked below), Mazda seems to be giving some clues regarding the direction of the next-gen MX-5.

Various generations of the sports roadster are featured in the video as the narrator talks about the future, and how Mazda will “build a future filled with great energy and joy”. While this is happening a few shots of a mysterious sports car are shown which could preview the design of the next MX-5.

Take a look below and see what you think. The message starts from the 32:00 mark, and even the opening shot is a current-gen MX-5. However, there is a chance Mazda is simply using a generic sports car concept to help tell the story.

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