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Mazda Miata – Click above for high-res image gallery

Rumors have surfaced that the next-generation Mazda MX-5 could tip the scales at 2,200 pounds and boast an impressive 50 miles per gallon without losing a lick of horsepower in the process. And while initial reports had the Miata achieving those impressive numbers with the help of Mazda's forthcoming SKY-G engines, Best Car Japan is hearing something different from Mazda HQ.

The Japanese magazine reports that the 2012 Miata will receive a rotary mill with a displacement of 1.2 or 1.3 liters, helping the roadster drop a few pounds in the process. However, the Wankel has proven to be anything but fuel efficient, so to achieve lofty fuel economy numbers the rumored rotary would be of the hybrid variety. That sounds a bit far fetched, but the Wankel/hybrid marriage has already been consummated in the form of a Fiat 500 prototype created by FEV. The little Fiat contains a rotary that acts as a generator for a Lithium-Ion battery pack.

While it's an intriguing idea, our money is on a small, efficient four-pot with turbocharging. After all, one of the most attractive qualities of the Miata is it's diminutive price tag, and hybrids tend to add a lot of cost – not to mention weight – to the bottom line.

Photos by Chris Paukert / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: 7Tune]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why not just toss a 1.2L diesel into it?
      • 5 Years Ago
      All anybody has ever asked for is the 2.3L DISI turbo in the Miata. No one wants the rotary with all of its problems, and even fan boys can't make the rotary sound appealing. Yeah, so the fuel pump hits the firewall, then knock a dent in it! A 260hp+ turbo 4cyl Miata is what dreams are made of for folks that like tossing cars around.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How is a hybrid supposed to end up lighter, with battery capacitance on-board?

      And isn't the benefit of the rotary engine in a sports car somewhat negated by that?

      If it is a parallel hybrid, it is needless complexity and added weight.

      If it is a series hybrid, a rotary is just generating electricity... why bother use a high-RPM-capable rotary that consumes oil for it's own lubrication, just to turn a generator?
        • 5 Years Ago
        as a generator a rotary is better than a piston engine. For a car it is as good as you are going to get without using a turbine.

        Any weight added by the batteries will probably be saved by the removal of a transmission and a smaller gas tank (when filled). The motor will most likely take the place of (and weight) of the rear diff.

        It really only makes sense considering the mx-5 model bloat.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Given what it is, why can't it be a non-hybrid rotary power with a CVT?
        • 5 Years Ago

        I have heard that rotaries make good engines for aircraft, and can understand that.

        I have not heard that rotaries make wonderful steady-state generators. Rotaries eat oil by design. Apex seals don't necessarily like steady-state or lower RPMS.

        Heck, some people who drive rotaries like they would drive a piston engine, actually shorten the longevity of rotaries by not keeping them in their proper rev range, and bog the engine in low RPMs too much, and burn up apex seals that way.

        Even if they could get a rotary stable for reasonably high-RPM steady-state power generation, where the engine would actually make enough power to be effective at generating electricity... it would have to have a relatively high rotational speed generation unit, and NVH would become an issue. Less of a drawback when driving a prop... not great under the hood of a sports car.

        A rotary may be smoother than a piston engine, but it still does vibrate and make noise at medium to high RPMs, which it would be doing ALL THE TIME, in order to generate electricity, only to turn the electricity back into kinetic energy.

        Changing kinetic energy to electricity and back to kinetic energy is wasteful, anyway, as there is inherent heat and electromagnetic loss at each transition, compared to keeping kinetic energy as kinetic. The only real advantage is instant electric motor torque, and regenerative braking. But is the weight, complexity, cost, and complication worth that?

        After just working on a miata in the garage for the last few days, I am thankful that the car is so simply implemented. Dealing with more complexity is not something I would look forward to.

        I am not against the rotary engine being put in the Miata... I just am not sure the character of a wide-ranging-RPM rotary that consumes lubrication as well as fuel, is the greatest idea for a steady-state generator, just to complicate a wonderfully simple and concise car. A rotary alone would at least be a rush to rev to the redline.

        An electric hybrid would act like a CVT. Constant engine state, and completely dis-associated road-speed, and no gears. Significant cost, weight, and complexity, just to change the driving feedback to be more like a CVT lawn tractor. Why ruin a sports car that way?
        • 5 Years Ago
        My guess is that's why they believe this won't happen. Adding the rotary nets you a slight decrease in weight but then adding the hybrid architecture to offset the rotary's lack of efficiency more than negates the weight savings of the rotary. Bottom line, the rotary is not going to happen unless they are looking to punch up the quirkiness quotient, and damn the efficiency.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Best car is like a automotive tabloid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should make the Alfa 2uetto concept interior an option.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's add complexity, cost and weight.

      Uh huh. With Ford's Fiesta and the near-midsize Chevy Cruze hitting 40MPG on the hwy, I doubt Mazda would piss away money (while charging us more) on something like this wet-dream 'Best Car' is dreaming up. If anything this is some far-off project Mazda is playing with.

      Besides, a 2012 anything has probably been design locked for at least the last 6-12 months.

      I'll have my foot and mouth on standby if proven wrong.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It sounds too complicated and heavy. Blah.
      I guess as long as they keep the 4 pot available, it can't be too bad. Still, I would never be interested in something like that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This story is a bunch of bull. Mazda knows what the miata truely is, which is a cheap (kinda), low weight sport car. they did a great job keeping that way for this gen n i doubt they would blown it that badly by making it a hybrid for the next one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mazdaspeed Mazdaspeed Mazdaspeed. A Rotary would be cool in an MX-5, but the MS MX-5 is what we really want!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not convinced a rotary is desirable in the MX-5. Having owned an early Miata, I feel the benefits of the car are its simplicity, efficiency, and reliability.

      Mazda rotaries are neither efficient nor reliable. Some cars should stick to their roots. The Miata's success relies on its carefree attitude and reasonable price point. Doing anything to challenge this is a dangerous alteration on a proven formula.

        • 5 Years Ago
        "Some cars should stick to their roots."

        The irony here is that your conclusion is dead wrong because of your own argument. The roots of the Miata is Mazda's previous generation of light, fun, two seater cars aka the first RX-7 (or the original Cosmo if you want to really go back). So a rotary is actually in the car's roots. It's why the RX-8 used a modified Miata chassis. And rotaries can be cheap, and were back in the days of the original RX-7, they just have been put in ever more upscale vehicles since. The real issue is that a chassis can't be engineered for both piston and rotary engines without losing the advantages those engines each provide to the car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Erm... you've got that backwards. The NC Miata uses a modified RX-8 platform, not the other way around.

        And for the record the current Miata weighs closer to 2600 pounds, not 2400.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would make the miata cool again if they do it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nonsense and more nonsense. I'd be excited to hear about them using a new, more efficient engine, and working to further reduce weight, but I really want to know when the next redesign is coming. I never did grow to like this generation of Miata.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boxer you and me must have very similar taste :)

        The NB Miatas and FD RX-7s are among my favorite cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Current NB owner... count me in, too.

        I was liking the idea of a bit more interior room (I'm 6'2" and barely can drive the car, but I still do enjoy driving it. It is my wife's and she LOVES the car.) I also like the top-side-up roof without a tonneau cover.

        But the NC's bar-of-soap styling, even with the new happy-face, just hasn't grown on me. The curves aren't appealing, and the fenders look like bolt-on pieces were used to create the stampings. The NB and FD-RX7 are gorgeous. NC Miata missed the mark.

        I'd rather get a 2003 or newer used Boxster (glass rear window and other updates on the 986.2 revision, or an early 987 model) than a new NC Miata. Better interior room, top-side-up roof fold, and a mid-ships boxer 6 chassis... Only down-side is the increased maintenance costs for anything wearing the Porsche badge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As a former owner of a NA and NB Miata, I am there with you. I remember back in 05 (I think) I was watching the live reveal of the NC and a sudden whoosh of disappointment hit me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      RX-5? I don't think so.

      I'm betting on a smaller displacement, direct-injected four cylinder with a turbo on it. That would be cheaper and lighter, which is exactly what Mazda tries to accomplish with the MX-5.
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