Fear not, rotaryphiles. According to a report from The Detroit News, Mazda isn't giving up on the rotary engine anytime soon. Though the RX-8 is headed for the production guillotine, Mazda execs have apparently confirmed that engineers are working on a more efficient and more powerful version of the Wankel. While the project was technically back-burnered during the economic downturn, the research wasn't canned outright. That means that there's a chance that the rotary could make a comeback. What would it go into? That's a little less certain.

We know that the MX-5 Miata isn't a likely candidate, as Mazda has sworn to keep that vehicle true to its inline roots. A rotary does pair well with an extended-range electric vehicle platform, however, as the high-revving nature is perfect for turning a generator. While that may be a far cry from the low-slung RX-8, it's at least reassuring to know that the engine design could have a future.


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  • 41 Comments
      Kelly Hatcher
      • 3 Years Ago
      Revised RX7 or FAIL
      eliotsmeliot
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've never driven anything with a rotary engine, but I greatly respect a company that has faith in their engineers and is will to work on long-term success rather than sacrifice their soul for short-term profits. I think I will be considering a Mazda the next time I'm shopping.
      Bob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Have to love that Mazda is the only company that cares about creating great, unique enthusiast cars for regular people. Companies like Honda or Nissan or Suburu bank on their enthusiasts, but they don't build cars specifically for them. It has to be a shared platform with an econobox or bland sedan. Then they throw in any engine they have lying around and abandon anything that can't be seamlessly brought to smog specifications (RB26DE). Gotta love a smooth, high revving engine. The heck with the apex seal dilemma
      Javanese
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just want an answer to 1 question, where's our RX7 replacement?!!!
      natron3030
      • 3 Years Ago
      Rotary + electric assist could be a real nice combo. Do it do it.
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whatever it goes in you can bet it'll be a low numbers car. They can't afford to have too many of those inefficient gas guzzlers on the road because they ruin their CAFE figures. Just abandon the whole RX platform that way you don't feel the need to produce a car just to put this horrible engine in. Rotards will vote this down, but it's cool, they only make up about .000000000001% of the population.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      facepalm @ Mazda.. How about improving the engines in your CORE PRODUCTS?!!!
        ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I rarely here bad things about Mazdas. My friend has mazda 3 with 135,000 and hes had to replace a starter and mouter mount and hes had it since 50,000 miles
          Krishan Mistry
          • 3 Years Ago
          @ryan
          Mazda's are really nice. Most of them are reliable and well built, and all of them are driver's cars in their respective classes. My dad's Protegé only has 130hp and an auto, but it is quick revving and has a really responsive steering
      Gator
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why???? Let it die already. Put the 3 turbo motor into an RX8 and it will be a blast
        Jason
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Gator
        Then it wouldn't be an "R"X-8. If anyone can make the Rotary work now, Mazda can. They know what they're doing.
        Bob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Gator
        And why doesn't honda turbo all of their cars. Everybody's doing it....some stupid thing about Naturally Aspirated philosophy. Or maybe BMW should throw out all their Inline 6 engines and replace them with Turbo V6's. Everybody knows that doing something different is just stupid :P
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        natron3030
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's why the Rotary would benefit greatly from an electric motor assist set up (electric being torque heavy).
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Nathan Loiselle
      • 3 Years Ago
      A rotary engine paired with an electric motor is an excellent idea. You get great high end horsepower with excellent low end torque. And it certainly would help solve the Wankel engine's issues with mileage.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nathan Loiselle
        The wankel will never be efficient. Why would you want an electric car that got the mpg of a SUV when the gas engine turns on?
        Temple
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nathan Loiselle
        The major problem with wankel engines has been that it doesn't achieve stoichiometric air-fuel mixture on low-mid loads. Meaning that varying load conditions its very inefficient. Just as importantly its very difficult to get a lean burning compression ratio with normal port injection. Obviously, direct-injection will help with this as shown with the 16X rotary prototype. And definitely an electric motor will mean that the engine can operate at its most efficient load. But wankel engines are incredibly efficient when its given a constant load, and they are incredibly small and lightweight. This is the reason why both Audi and GM have publicly floated the possibility of using a wankel engine as a range extender for a future Volt and A1 PHEV.
          Ambulancia
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Temple
          Your first paragraph makes no sense. On a modern fuel injected engine it will be at stoich through all load ranges (with the exception of WOT on a lot of vehicles where the fuel system goes into open loop). There is mapping in the programming for this specific purpose along with adaptation values for compensation of wear, leaks, etc. As for achieving a lean mixture being difficult, if the engineers intent were to make it run leaner, they very easily could .. one solution: reduce injector duration.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nathan Loiselle
        Rotaries also burn oil by design. There is no way to NOT make them do that.
        mylexicon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nathan Loiselle
        I'm glad some people know what rotaries are good for. It will be interesting to see if the Wankel rotary proves to be the best of them all.
      CarCrazy24
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is excellent news! The rotary is the most unique and fascinating engine left, and Mazda has the ability to make it something truly special. I wish there was a timeline, as I would love to see where it goes next!
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