2009 Mazda RX-8 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Though the rotary engine certainly has its fair share of detractors, many who find themselves behind the wheel of a Wankel-powered machine from Mazda fall in love with the engine's zippy and rev-happy characteristics... including this particular blogger, who purchased a new RX-8 back in 2004. Regardless, nobody can deny that the rotary has always been a thirsty little bugger, especially when compared to powerplants with similarly rated displacements.

We've been hearing for the last few years – and seemingly every other time a new rendition of the Wankel engine came to market – that the next version of Mazda's rotary would address complaints about its high fuel consumption and emissions. Perhaps the early projections about the so-called 16X engine were a wee bit premature. According to Seita Kanai, head of R&D at Mazda:
The 16X demonstrated the possibility, but that performance is not good enough. We are doing R&D which will incorporate more new technology... The 16X is more a profile of a rotary still in our concept stage. It needs more evolution.
That really doesn't sound all that confidence inspiring to us. At this point, only time will tell if the 16X will actually be ready for prime time when the long-rumored next-gen rotary-powered car from Mazda hits the scene in 2012 or so.


Related Gallery2009 Mazda RX-8 R3

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req'd]