• Brapping Glory! Mazda’s Bringing the Rotary Back! Sort of. [News]

    The Mazda RX-7 is one of the brand’s most iconic cars. [Photo: Mazda]

    Despite Mazda ending the production of the RX-8 five years ago, it’s brand identity still lies with its rotary engines.

    Enthusiasts have rallied around Mazda’s rotary-engined sports cars for the past four decades. The RX-7 stands as Mazda’s most legendary car, and one of the greatest Japanese sports car of all times. It’s descendant, the RX-8, carried on the rotary tradition from 2004 until its demise in 2012. For the past five years, Mazda’s lineup has been devoid of a model to carry on Felix Wankel’s design. That is, until now!

    …Well, sort of. Mazda, bless them, have always been rather deft in stoking the hype regarding a new generation of high-revving rotaries. They’ve been teasing its comeback for years. The bosses have excelled at seducing enthusiasts with the likes of the “RX-9”, the “new RX-7”, and most recently, the “RX-Vision Concept”. Rumors continue to circulate that Mazda is developing a successor to the 13B engine (dubbed “SkyActiv R”) to power such a car.

    However, every time we get our hopes up, Mazda’s CEO Masamichi Kogai tells us it’s not really happening. He suggests that the rotary engine – given its inherent drawbacks – isn’t feasible to put into production right now. Mazda, like any other manufacturer, needs to shift units to survive, so their CEO is focusing on developing the SkyActiv platform instead. It makes sense, but if you’re a Mazda enthusiast like me (I’m currently on my third Mazda), that news leaves you a bit disappointed. Now though, it seems hopes of a new rotary engine may come to pass – just not in a way we expected it to happen.

    The 13B “Renesis” rotary engine powered the RX-8. Now, Mazda’s bringing the rotary back, although smaller and for a different purpose. [Photo: Mazda]

    Mazda is finally bringing back the rotary engine – just not where you’d expect it.

    Now, the rumor that the rotary engine is coming back has been confirmed, but not as a primary powerplant for a new RX sports car. Rather, following Mazda’s recent tie-up with Toyota, it will produce an electric car in 2019. Mazda’s global powertrain chief Mitsuo Hitomi suggested that this electric car will feature a rotary engine as a range extender. Not the news enthusiast wanted to hear, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless. Considering the rotary’s inherent up-sides – it’s compact and powerful – it could be a winner as a companion to electric propulsion.

    It’s a more natural progression, as Mazda has toyed with this idea before. Back in 2013, Mazda introduced a Wankel range extender for its Mazda2 (also known as the Demio). However, that car never made it to production. Now, it seems, they’re keen on seeing that technology through with a new electric model.

    What are your thoughts, TFLcar community? How do you see this latest rotary news as part of Mazda’s brand identity? Are you looking forward to a new rotary-powered sports car, if indeed it ever happens? For those of you pining for the days of yore, check out this oldie but goodie video of the RX-8 playing in the snow!


    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler is the Managing Editor for The Fast Lane Car. A Colorado native, he spends his free time exploring the hidden gems and scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountains. Zach is a life-long automotive fanatic and is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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    18 thoughts on “Brapping Glory! Mazda’s Bringing the Rotary Back! Sort of. [News]

    1. My 1993 RX7-R1 is a vivid memory that will never fade. When the dual turbos kicked in, it was like going into Star Wars hyper drive. But you know, my 3 Miatas (gens NA, NB, NC) were far more suitable for the real world, where you don’t want to get tickets on a daily basis.

      1. Ha! every other announcement is confirming my assertion that the range extendor is the way to go. And aaaalllllll the nay sayers for the last year on TFL truck and car still won’t apologize for their strident negations.

    2. So the tree huggers won this one to damn cars are at its most boring point now this jeez omg Who cares if it’s inefficient and gets horrible gas mileage I’m not buying that car because it gets 50 miles per gallon.

        1. The fool is the person who doesn’t understand why the rotary engine is considered by most as one of the great engines of its time and when redlining a car at 10,500 rpm is addictive people have boxer engines old vw bugs or rotary but either way those are kool to tinker with

      1. That sound is just before it blows up!!!!!! Work on these Junk before!! They over heated so easily! Did you also remember when you had ACNE??? Was that fun??

    3. The rotary may be compact and powerful however, it gets poor gas mileage and lacks long term reliability. A small 3 cylinder ICE would be a better option.

    4. Nobody buys a rotary motor because it gets good gas mileage nobody buys a rotary because it lasts 400,000 miles this is the misconception with you people who keep bashing the Rotary. The RX7 went down as one of the best sports cars known along with the supra and 300ZX TwinTurbo so you can bash at all you want but the bottom line is Maza sold a lot of them

    5. The boxer motor suffers from the same issues that the rotary motor suffers from so when the scion FRS came out and used the same formula as the RX8 everyone bought them it’s a proven formula for a lightweight low center of gravity sports car. Which is why the Pontiac solstice while it was a good car was not as good as those two because it did not have a low center of gravity and head had poor Weight distribution .

      1. What, pray tell does a boxer “suffer” from, aside from being inherently wide? The Solstice was a parts-bin car. The manual trans was a clunky truck box and it was comparatively heavy.

        1. The boxer suffers from premature wear not as quick as the rotary but pretty darn fast also has a host of sensor issues I love the boxer but I like rotary as a weekend queen just my preference. To each their own

        2. Subaru EJs that get maintenance routinely go into the high 200s without piston wear problems. Sensor problems in a BRZ/FT86 aren’t inherent to a boxer, just to that FA20 release.

    6. One has to appreciate the sweet irony of using an engine notorious for excessive oil consumption and terrible fuel economy as a range extender for a hybrid car.

      1. Those drawbacks are mitigated by the fact that a range extender isn’t meant to provide a significant portion of the regular mileage driven, but rather proof the car against running out of power.

      1. Agreed you can’t argue with that but that sound of high winding rotary is amazing again for an extra weekend car it’s amazing

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