Forty years ago, the first vehicle powered by a rotary engine debuted as the Mazda Cosmo Sport. Since then, Mazda has manufactured nearly two million rotary-powered vehicles. The rotary engine has accumulated a quite respectable history for itself, being installed in sports coupes, convertibles, sedans, a pickup truck and even a bus. The rotary is also responsible for powering the first Japanese Le Mans champion in 1991.

The current rotary installed in the Mazda RX-8 makes the same horsepower figures as much larger-displacement V6's, and maintains very competitive fuel-efficiency. Its smaller size allows it to be placed further back in the chassis, enabling 50/50 weight distribution. It is also lighter, so handling and acceleration are improved simply because of having less weight to throw around. Its high rev-limit and incredible tuning potential has made it a favorite the world over.

Currently, Mazda is perfecting its hydrogen-powered rotary engine in the current RX-8, which can be seen occasionally on the road in Japan. Researching this technology in a sports car is really a great idea, because it tells the public that Mazda is not going to sacrifice its "zoom-zoom" in its endeavor to increase fuel efficiency and produce alternative fuel vehicles. We'll be watching their progress intently.

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[Source: Mazda]


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