We last reported on Mazda's next-generation rotary engine project in June of 2012 when the automaker built its last Renesis-powered RX-8, but rumors of this new engine's development had been around way before that final car left the production line in Japan, last year.
We now have enthusiastic confirmation that this next-gen rotary engine is really and truly going forward. It is still referred to as 16X and has several priorities. First is to lower fuel consumption compared to the RX-8's engine, while still making gains in terms of performance. The second is to reduce the burning of oil that was happening at the highest revs. And the third and final priority, and perhaps most key for enthusiasts, is to give the powertrain a big torque upgrade.
What we were told by a Mazda USA insider (while we are all here together at the festivities in Monterey) is that the first application of the new 16X engine will be happening in two years' time in an as yet undisclosed new model. Oh, the mind races to our eternal Mazda wish list...
How to solve the failings of the Renesis engine that preceded all of this? "The key to both higher torque and better fuel consumption," said the insider, "is creating a longer stroke engine." But we're talking a rotary engine with the fat-triangle rotor and toroidal cam, so how does one determine the way to call this long-stroke or not? "By the path of travel within the combustion space dictated by the engineers," says Mr. Insider.
What this means for the relative engine capacity and blueprint of the 16X engine is yet to be shown. Longer stroke engines can create greater torque and do so at lower revs. This, it is thought, is what will drastically improve fuel efficiency, emissions, and oil abuse in the 16X.
This is good news and confirmation for us. Having a Wankel engine in the tech mix makes engine discussion so much more interesting, plus we have always liked the drive experience. Good to know they're not dumping this jewel in the Mazda brand crown.