Mazda HR-X2

What the hell is this? 

Let that view sink in, the front of the HR-X2—you'll be glad I saved the rear view for the bottom of the article.

Headlights at the base of the windshield, front air intake nostrils, and obvious MPV-like greenhouse. The HR-X2 came before the first Fiat Multipla, though, so maybe the Italians were looking east before they designed their own odd family mover.

That said, I think it's easy to spot Mazdas from the early 1990s, no matter how strange—they all seem to have similar styling cues, or at least cues that are re-used where possible.

The really odd thing is that some sources claim that—in often the same jarbled, likely badly translated sentence—that a) the car's body was recyclable and b) it was "invented by James Dyson."

Is it plausible that Dyson styled the car? Or maybe lent his touch to the bizarre interior control surfaces and interior finish? Alternatively, did Mazda just borrow some of Dyson's vacuum plastic and make body panels out of it?

I don't know. I'll keep looking for information on this car, though, and update it when I find out.

HR-X2 was a development of the HR-X, Mazda's first hydrogen-powered vehicle. A small two-seat commuter car, the HR-X proved that a rotary engine would work on hydrogen. Mazda had bigger plans than making a few proof-of-concept concepts, though.

First shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1993, the HR-X2's headline feature was its hydrogen rotary engine. Mazda claimed the concept prototype had a range of 230 km (142 miles). They also said its top speed was a pretty strong 200 km/h (125 mph).

The powertrain fitted to the HR-X2 was replicated in a few hydrogen-powered, rotary-engined test vehicles: two Mazda Capella Van (essentially just 626 wagons with basic interiors) were leased to Nippon Steel, who covered about 20,000 km in each tester.

Even now, you can see how the choices made by manufacturers in the 1990s still echo today; Mazda was hot on rotaries and hydrogen—which kind of went nowhere. Nissan put a bunch of batteries in about 30 Prairie Joy models and leased them out, one of which ending up as a support vehicle for the Japanese North Pole Exploratory Team—now they do EVs. And Toyota, after experimenting with just about every form of alternatively-fuelled vehicle, decided to go with the safest, hybrids.

Although the HR-X2 didn't foreshadow a range of modern, hydrogen-powered Mazdas, it was a refreshing look at what the future could hold—it's just a shame they didn't put that seat fabric into production!


Sources / Recommended reading