At the end of 2011, the Mazda RX-8 rotary-powered sport coupe/sedan will cease to exist in new-car showrooms. With it, the mass-produced rotary engine will take another hiatus. The original plan was to have the Renesis, the world's only mass-produced rotary, come back maybe as early as 2017 in a new sports car. In fact, we just heard reports that Mazda's rotor-obsessed gearhead engineers were still manning the program, albeit at a reduced pace.
Mazda's Wankel rotary engine has always been unique in the automotive landscape as a mass-produced internal combustion engine that eschews such unsightly items as pistons, valves and camshafts. The Wankel packs lots of power into a very small package, but one thing it's never been is fuel efficient, despite its relatively meager 1.3-liters of displacement. It seems the Japanese automaker is working hard to change that reputation with the next generation of the RX series.