• Sep 8, 2010
Mazda has big plans for the future of its rotary engine. According to GoAuto, the company is currently hard at work on improving the powerplant's fuel economy by a full 50 percent. If it can pull it off, the new mill will proudly wear the same "Sky" designation as its traditional four-cylinder counterparts. The site quotes Seita Kanai, Mazda's director of R&D and program management, as saying that upping the rotary's fuel economy is essential for the engine's survival.

From the sound of things, Mazda is wholly committed to keeping a rotary in its stable. In the report, Kanai says the company is investigating every possible aspect of the engine's design to look for ways to increase efficiency, down to the very principles behind the design. Even so, he stopped short of saying whether or not the company is toying with an electric turbocharger as part of development.

Even with word that the Japanese automaker is stoking the rotary flames, GoAuto reports the company currently has no plans for a legitimate RX-7 successor. While designers and engineers within the company may be itching to jump onto a new sports car, the company's decision makers are currently more occupied with slimming its corporate average fuel economy.

[Source: GoAuto]


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  • 45 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It`s beyond me how Mazda can be dwarfed by Toyota and Nissan and to a lesser extent Honda.
      I`m a Detroit 3 fan through and through. If I were to stray Mazda or Subaru would pull me away.
      Mazda sticking to its guns on the rotary engine is a sign of loyalty to its fans and that is admirible in my book. The easy thing for Mazda to do with its limited resources is to drop the rotary engine. Honda could stray me slighty too.
      Toyota and Nissan totally blow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      RX doesn't mean Rotary eXperiment.

      If it did MX would mean... Miller eXperiment? Not all of them were miller cycle. CX would mean...Cargo eXperiment?
      • 4 Years Ago
      By a Sky rotary are they referring possibly to the already (mostly) unveiled all aluminum, high compression, direct injected 16x?

      Either way very glad to see them come out and state for the record they have not lost their rotary ways. An affordable rotary sports car along with well handling everyday cars both define Mazda.

      I know everyone's blowing their load for a return to the FD but we gotta remember that the FD was not considered "affordable" when it was being sold, and is a maintenance nightmare due to cost cutting concerns. Not so much a problem with the rotary mill itself, just that Mazda wasn't willing push the price point any higher to off set future maintenance.

      Since most likely the Sky rotary is the 16x and Mazda has already stated that they do not intend (initially) to force induce the 16x we may be seeing a return to the old SA/FB RX-7s. Non-turbo, light, affordable, fun.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Despite not being a great engine, I always appreciated Mazda for doing something different.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @jcar302

      Evidence that the RX-8 is a great handler and rivals Porsche? how about this

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/10q3/the_best-handling_car_in_america_for_less_than_100_000-video
      hex311k
      • 4 Years Ago
      i still think mazda should have ditched the rotary in the rx8 after sales slowed and just threw in the MS3 turbo 4 which makes more power and torque. I think it would have made the car well worth the price tag.

      I feel like its not worth it to try and make the rotary work intodays world. If they can pull it off then more power to them but i feel like its a losing battle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @hex311k
        SpecV has it right, the rotary engine means more to Mazda than just 'another engine'

        it's literally the engine that identifies who they are as a car company, without it they would be lost.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @hex311k
        I have to disagree. When you hear about Rotary engine, you remember Mazda. Mazda and Rotary should always come together.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @hex311k
        rotaries still do have size advantage. I feel like Mazda is kind of going alone, what with trying to make the rotary work. I would like to see them succeed, but from a strict business perspective, I am not sure I would continue work on the rotary.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @hex311k
        @tech: in that case, perhaps you'd be interested in the r1, r2, or r3.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @hex311k
        Rotary eXperiment

        Are they ever going to get it out of Beta? I'm ready for the full version.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I looked at the photo of that rotary engine with it's shifter hanging out for the world to see and tried to think it was pretty but couldn't help but think it was a little obscene or even grotesque. Sort of like when your rich friend tore the voice box out of his Teddy Ruxpin and showed it to you. You wanted to think it was cool, but really it stole some of the magic from your soul. So too, for this be-fanned display of mechanical entrails. Please cover it up with a sheet or something and inform the next of kin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Go Mazda, go! New designs + ICE advancements = some great cars coming up ahead. Can't let Hyundai/Kia get all the spotlight!

      Really though, I'm glad there's still automakers who are focusing on improving gas motors rather than going the "lazy" mild hybrid route. Honda; this is what you should have done. It's not like you didn't have the engineering capability.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I sometimes wonder how many of the naysayers have actually driven a rotary. Sure, it's easily dismissed by numbers and I suppose it takes a bit of an eccentric gearhead to appreciate and understand. There's just nothing else like it. The sound and utter smoothness are amazing. The RX-8 is still a stellar car to drive/flog - and near redline is damn near intoxicating.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Apparently Jim hasn't driven one. If he did, he would probably be more concerned with dynamics instead of 2 numbers which have no context.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The current Mustang is an awesome car that has evolved to what probably is the most capable muscle car ever. That being said it has several more generations to go through before it can dance as effortlessly as an RX-8.

        • 4 Years Ago
        one can be a gearhead, and still see the Wankel's disadvantages for what they are. One does not have to agree with you in order to be a "gearhead."

        Simply put, when an RX-8 has poorer fuel economy (sticker and real-world) than a Mustang GT- a 500 lb heavier car with almost 2x the horsepower- that's a problem. No matter how unique the engine is, that's a hard pill to swallow for a street car.

        Maybe Mazda can do it. I'm sure the RX-series is profitable enough for them to justify the development. I wish them the best of luck.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not talking about the car, I'm talking about the engine. if you'd actually read what I wrote instead of just mindlessly downrating my post just 'cos you don't like what I say, you'd have figured that out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good for them! Glad to see they're working hard to keep that engine in their lineup instead of just rolling over and ditching it. 50% increase in fuel economy is significant...makes you wonder why they haven't done this kind of development before...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Good for them.

        But as an RX-8 owner that does his own oil changes, is it too much to ask them to move the stupid oil filter to the bottom of the engine? I'm tired of dribbling oil down the side of my block whenever I need to swap in some fresh dino juice.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nateb123:

        While yes rotaries are not the reliability nightmare they once were, it's incorrect to look back at the past RX vehicles through rose colored glasses.

        The FCs were probably the most stalwart. The non-turbo engine can easily attain 100k+ so long as the number 1 rule of rotary ownership is followed (check the oil and keep it topped off). 200k+ on stock engines is known but not terribly common, many owners will either blow the engine through abuse or neglect before then, or get ahead of the curve and rebuild prematurely. Even the turbo models were rather hardy and again 100k+ stock is not uncommon assuming no modifications and it is kept in tune.

        The FDs on the otherhand had issues. The sequential twins system while nice added a large amount of complexity that drives many owners to either disable the system or switch to a single turbo set up. Also the sequential twins are not terribly hardy with 75k being about the mark for them going kapoot and then needing to replace or rebuild them. It seems Mazda reached a little too far with it and while many issues were addressed on the domestic (to japan) version that ran until '02, the export version (specifically) halted at 95 and never saw many improvements that should have been included from the get go but weren't due to cost cutting measures. Things like components underhood that initially were made of plastic being made of metal, specifically the twin turbo Y-pipe. Also the water-cooling system for the turbos had faults such as the air separation tank hook up basically distending and becoming unusable due to heat and age. While the FD is a beautiful car and a performance and engineering marvel for its time it feel victim to too much bean counting, and was still out of the "affordable" range as the SA/FBs were intended.
        • 4 Years Ago
        2009 and later RX-8 have the oil filter on bottom
        • 4 Years Ago
        @clipless

        when i changed oil on my RX-8, i put wads of those blue shop paper towels around the base of the oil filter mount, poke a hole on top of the filter so more oil drains out of the filter before removal, and usually end up with very little (if any) oil dripped onto the rotor housing right below the filter mount.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Gotta love a committed auto-maker. Especially one with as few resources as Mazda. They found their niche decades ago and have never turned their back on their faithful customers.

        And as an FC, FC, and RX8 owner, I'm used to the filter placement. And top mounts are common in remote-mounts typical of serious auto-x/road race cars. If you poke a hole in the filter it'll drain better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ sugaki

        After the first series of RX-8s had their oiling issues that caused them to blow up, Mazda extended their warranty on the engines to 100000 miles. So their longevity (once was the problem was fixed) was pretty damn good. The second series of RX-8s have shown that by going strong. Even older RX-7 engines could last a long time though. Some FCs and FDs end up going past the 200000 mile mark before any problems arise which is pretty awesome for turbocharged engines. Not bad for 25 year old, hand built, experimental engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It'd help if they would just use the engine in more places - like in Mazdaspeed models. It can be detuned in those models versus what might appear in an RX, but really they could justify more development with that broader use.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. they should make it an option on the other vehicles they make. But I think the fuel economy of the current designs is what stops them. They know that the other car mfrs would play up that shortcoming.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why does it say, "rotary piston..." ? I don't see how a rotor can be considered the same as a piston.
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