The minds at Car and Driver recently took a moment to speak with Robert Davis, senior vice president of Mazda U.S. operations, about the automaker's plans for the future. According to Davis, the rotary engine will continue to play a role in the company's products moving forward, with engineers applying the lessons learned through the SkyActiv program to the powerplant. That means the next-generation rotary will likely feature reduced internal friction and lightweight internals in a quest to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. But the engine may find applications outside of its traditional role.

Not only is Mazda pursuing a rotary engine to power a vehicle, Davis admits Mazda is also investigating ways to use the design in tandem with an electric motor, with the pistonless engine responsible for charging an extended-range EV's batteries. Given the compact size and relatively low torque supplied by a rotary, this application would seem to hold promise. Of course, we've heard some of this before.

And what of a SkyActiv V6? Davis makes it clear there's no room in the SkyActiv stable for a six-cylinder, saying that the company will focus on lighter platforms and forced-induction four-cylinder engines instead.


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  • 66 Comments
      Epilonious
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always thought the key to the Rotary was add more rotors and spin it less fast. Yes you can rev the things up to a full 13,000 screaming rotations per minute, but so much un-burned fuel and oil gets flung out of the exhaust in the process. From what I gleaned, The quad-rotor 787B won Lemans way back when because it was more efficient than most of the other lemans racers, and they did it by going "well, it can rev to a billion, but we're limiting it to 8000 for reliability reasons" They've probably figured this out, and are avoiding the S2000 "OVER 9000!!" syndrome by attaching it to an electric generator, at which point it can go at that one perfectly stoichiometric RPM and be ridiculously reliable since it will only have [2 + number of extra rotors] moving parts.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Epilonious
        [blocked]
          kesbar
          • 2 Years Ago
          Norton had that idea decades ago and went racing with it. http://youtu.be/YFX_-iOgQUM
      biopsea
      • 2 Years Ago
      biggest knock on the rotary is low torque. seems like a perfect fit with an electric drive train. battery provides low end grunt for acceleration or low rpm driving. rotary spinning to 10,000 rpm for high end HP
        ELG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @biopsea
        and awful gas mileage, and poor reliability, and oil consumption.... and...and....and...
      LivingLenny
      • 2 Years Ago
      Keep on trucking with ROTARY POWER!! Sell millions and millions of MX-5s, 2s, 3s, and CX-5s. I want the return of the RX-7!!! HALO CAR BABY!!!
      miammt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Expect RX-8 successor, and i hope it returns to the roots of the RX-7
      k_m94
      • 2 Years Ago
      Long live the rotary engine. Buttery smooth, compact, quick revving, astronomical specific output, and unique. Yes, it sucks fuel and oil sometimes, and makes almost no low end torque, but that is just encouragement to amend these issues and not bail over to mainstream.
      Robert
      • 2 Years Ago
      omg im blanking in my pants
      SethG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too bad about the V6. If they could somehow eke out a similar mpg improvement with the next CX-9 they would easily have the most compelling 3 row crossover.
        guyverfanboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SethG
        A 3.0 V6 SKyactiv diesel would sure be nice. :P At least those get respectable MPG while having good towing capacity. Perfect for the CX-9!
      Dark Gnat
      • 2 Years Ago
      A rotary would be a great range extender. You wouldn't need to worry about torque, and because it would basically running at a constant speed, it could be optimized for fuel consumption. Plus they can run on a wide variety of fuels, like propane.
      Eric Wong
      • 2 Years Ago
      Excellent! If rotary engine+elctric motors fixes the torque issue, and new technology also lower fuel consumption, then I definitely would consider to buy a rotary engine car.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mazda you frustrate me. You're in big financial trouble, so you spend engineering dollars on a dead inherently flawed engine design when you desperately need to either put a turbo on your skyactiv 4 or develop a skyactiv 6 just to simply remain competitive. I love your cars, but the brand new CX-5 is completely uncompetitive in so many areas. Time to spend your (limited) time and money on fixing the important stuff.
        Lance Ward
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        Just drove the CX-5 and apparently you haven't. It weighs maybe 150 lbs more than the 2003-2008 Mazda6 and has almost identical HP/Torque numbers although the max torque comes at a sliightly lower rpm. Driving it, I noticed just a tad slower than the 2007 Mazda6 but it handles so good for a CUV. Flat corners, suspension that soaks up road irregularites very nicely and a smooth 6spd auto. I stopped in last Sunday to take a look at their inventory and they had 4. Tuesday afternoon they only had one which was the dealer demo that they can't sell. These things are flying off the shelves which is encouraging as it is a major effort for Mazda. Some car mag had the 0-60 time for the CR-V(which has 30 more HP but is a heavier vehicle) and the CX-5 at only about .1 of a sec difference so it isn't slow versus the competition. It's not trying to compete withe turbo Kia or Focus...it's competing on economy and driving fun.
          Lawrence Miller
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Lance Ward
          We just picked one up on friday, and I totally agree. This engine is just fine, the handling is leaps and bounds above any other CUV, and we love it. And it really doesn't feel like a dog, especially when you hit the curves.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        [blocked]
        jrwgti17
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        The article says that mazda will rely on forced-induction 4-cylinders instead of v-6s. The 2.3 turbo from the speed3 is very inefficient, i would guess they are working on a turbo version of a skyactiv 4-cylinder.
        Jacob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        What are you smoking, as far as I know, the CX-5 with the SkyActiv engines/platform have been receiving quite a lot of positive reviews. Not saying I'm right, but I haven't seen a lot criticism. And I hope Mazda could pull through their financial troubles, the new cars and powertrains they're developing seem to be pretty damn good.
          krische
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jacob
          Yeah even autoblog here seemed to like it. Just complained the gasoline engine was lacking in power. But the diesel version is perfect with it's abundance of torque.
        Epilonious
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        In what areas is the CX5 uncompetitive? it's basically the Most Efficient Crossover (FWD or AWD) out there other than the (I think) escape hybrid, and it beats that in price by about $7000. It holds more than even the "bigger" CX-7 and seems to handle and accelerate just fine because they spent so much time lightening it.
          axiomatik
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Epilonious
          I have a CX-7 with 160HP. It doesn't need any more power, it is perfectly fine. If you want a drag racer, buy something else.
          ELG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Epilonious
          155hp is uncompetitive and completely unacceptable as the only engine option for a SUV. Im no power junkie, but a mazda3 engine in this vehicle is rediculous 5 year old infotainment in a brand new model is uncompetitive. its not even that fuel efficient. you can get much more power from competitors for about the same fuel economy.
      CBJMNWLD
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Rotary engine is the Sony equivalent of refusing to drop beta tapes. There is a reason why the rest of the world doesnt care about Rotaries much like pushrod engines in mass produced cars. Even NASCAR has fuel injection. Give it up Mazda. You need this money for your baseball teams
        Nathan Loiselle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CBJMNWLD
        The 13B rotary engine uses fuel injection as well. In fact, over the lifespan of the rotary it's been more advanced (in terms of engineering) than the current NASCAR engines are. Although not by much.
      marc
      • 2 Years Ago
      this is what makes mazda my favorite car company. cant wait to see what the new rotary shows up in.
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