Renesis rotary engine in 2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

"We will never give up," says Mitsuo Hitomi, general manager of Mazda's powertrain division, referring to the automaker's long-running investment in the rotary engine. This vote of confidence in Felix Wankel's replacement for displacement will surely come as welcome news to rotor-heads around the globe, but that doesn't mean there aren't problems in World of Wankel.

Apparently, the so-called 16X engine, which is the latest take on the beer-keg-sized engine that spins to unheard of rpm, is failing to meet emissions requirements set by the engineering team at Mazda, despite the fact that it is 30 percent more fuel efficient than the previous Renesis rotary. Impressively, Hitomi stated that the 1.6-liter 16X is slightly more fuel efficient than the automaker's standard 2.0-liter gas engine.

It would seem that the rotary's well-known thirst for fuel has at least partly been quenched, but until the 16X is tuned to hit its emissions targets, we can expect it to stay in the engineering department and off the showroom floor. So, when might we see a new rotary-powered machine from Mazda? "Maybe within two years we can tell you when we will introduce it to the market," responds Hitomi.

Now, let the debate continue as to what kind of body and platform that engine should be featured in...

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd.]

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