The rotary engine and Mazda have had a tumultuus, on-and-off relationship that rivals an Old Hollywood marriage. Market conditions and government regulations have made mass production of the rotary a constant challenge, and the death of the Mazda RX-8 looked like the final nail in the Wankel’s coffin.
Back when I reviewed the final Mazda RX-8, I ranted on at some length about my envy of my RX-7-driving college classmates who were the rich sons of high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers and government officials. Still, except when I was shopping for a Mazda rear end for my 20R Sprite Hell Project, I haven’t paid much attention to the many RX-7s I’ve seen in wrecking yards over the years. First-gen examples aren’t uncommon even today; here’s an ’85 I found in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)
So when Mazda called me up and asked if I’d like to sample a little of their driving heritage in a blatant PR move, I huffily told them that I could not in good conscience be complicit in helping further burnish their brand image as a manufacturer of sporting products. I reminded them that I thought the Mazda2 too slow, the Mazda3 too ugly, the Mazdaspeed3 possessed of worse torque steer than a one-legged unicyclist, the cabin of the MX-5 designed for people with short legs and prehensile elbows, and that they didn’t even build a rotary engine any more, so what was the point?
Naturally, I said all these things in my internal voice during the 3.7 nanosecond pause before, “OohyespleaseWhencanIpickitupHowaboutnow?”
Who’s ready for some yellow journalism? (Read More…)
Mazda is saying “peace out” to their V6 engines. The party line is that they don’t really fit with the companies new philosophy, and the SkyACTIV portfolio. Instead, the company is drumming up a few alternatives.
I am looking to buy an RX-7 (FC) convertible. I currently own a hand me down 2000 Honda Accord V6 from my mother in law. this car drinks WAY too much gas. 20 dollars in 89 octane gas DAILY! my commute is about 50 miles round trip. but I always loved Mazdas my dad had a 1984 323 with a 1.3, a 929 with the V6. I grew up playing with FDs in Gran Turismo. now that I can buy a cheap used car I was thinking about an FC convertible. BUT the major problem that I have is my job, I work for a Chevy dealership as a salesman. The GSM and the SM fired a guy who bought a Toyota Corolla S brand new.
I don’t wanna lose my job but I LOVE the FC and will not buy anything else, I know rotaries are as unreliable as an iron duke but that doesn’t matter. I have access to a repair shop so free labor is there. the parts might be a problem, though i think there are plenty of them in my local junk yard. so please help me figure out my dilemma I Don’t want to drive that POS accord in the summer heat, because it has no A/C, brakes are almost shot.
Though the next-generation of Mazda’s rotary engine has been in development since 2007, and has been the subject of several TTAC Wild-Ass Rumors, WardsAuto reports that the unique engine design could well be reaching the end of its life.
Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda executive officer-product planning and powertrain development, says there is “huge discussion” within the Hiroshima, Japan-based company whether to continue on with a rotary engine.
Fujiwara says economic hardship has some top brass looking for programs to cut, and that the engine program is on the list.
Continuing development of the rotary has been halted for now, but he hopes it will resume in the future, noting the technology is a part of Mazda’s DNA.
Without identifying what exactly they are, Fujiwara says three major problems were identified with the current generation of rotary engine, but that two of the three have been overcome. Still, Mazda says that only one thing will save the rotary engine at this point: success with Mazda’s new suite of SKYACTIV technologies. If these fuel-saving measures spark new interest in the Mazda brand, says Fujiwara, then Mazda might have enough cash to invest in its rotary engine. Alternatively, a Mazda-developed Wankel engine could be used as an electric range-extender. In any case, don’t expect a new Mazda rotary before 2017… if ever. Here’s hoping Mazda is able to keep this unique, distinctive drivetrain alive for future generations of enthusiast drivers.
Having seen its RX-8 banned from Europe for flunking emissions tests, Mazda may be going to extreme lengths to improve the efficiency of its next-gen rotary engine (codenamed 16x) which has been in development since 2007. Autocar reports
The 16X’s capacity has been raised from 1304cc to 1600cc, and it is also physically smaller and partly built from aluminium. The changes are designed to improve two of the biggest issues with rotary engine performance: fuel economy and torque delivery.
The Mazda source said the new engine “needed a smaller hole on the wall [of the combustion chamber]” as a result of eliminating the space-hungry normal spark plug. He also admitted to Autocar that the use of laser ignition “was absolutely possible”.
Recent advances in Japan have created high-power lasers made from ceramics that measure just 9mm in diameter and 11mm in length, easily small enough to fit into a car engine.
Not only would laser ignition allow the 16x to burn leaner, it would also allow more precise control of ignition points and timing. More importantly, it would cement the Wankel rotary’s status as the least-necessary, most overly-complex and thoroughly awesome engine ever created. And they say emissions standards always make cars less interesting…
One of the cool things about the SAE World Congress is that there’s always at least a couple of radical new engine designs. Scuderi was back with their split cycle compressed air hybrid, only this time with a turbo that lets them use a much smaller piston on the intake side, reducing friction. FEV showed an engine optimized for compressed natural gas, with turbocharging, long intake runners, and a piston designed to increase turbulence. Two exhibitors were at the SAE for the first time. Grail Engine Technologies was showing their atmospheric-valve-in-piston engine that routes the induction through the crankcase and up into the combustion chamber.
You’d think that the zilch-o-torque characteristics of a Wankel engine wouldn’t be so great for hauling heavy loads, and you’d be right! Adding an automatic transmission to the mix, as is the case with this ’75 Mazda pickup, no doubt made for some interesting driving experiences when hauling, say, a dozen sacks of concrete mix in the back. (Read More…)
With the Mazda RX-8 being pulled from the European market for its rotary engine’s inability to pass the new Euro-5 emissions standard, we should have guessed that its days were numbered in the US market as well. Perhaps the fact that the model is one of our favorite enthusiast options available in the US made us hope against hope that it would soldier on a bit longer. No such luck. According to Motor Trend‘s “well placed source at Mazda’s North American Operations,” the RX-8 will be phased out “most likely after the 2011 model year.” And probably not just for the obvious fuel economy or capacity-utilization reasons either: RX-8 sales peaked at 23,690 units in 2004, and have been in steady decline ever since, moving only 2,217 units last year.
Thanks to its rev-happy rotary engine’s inability to pass the Euro-5 emissions standard, the Mazda RX-8 will be pulled from the European market, reports Auto Motor & Sport Sweden [via Google Translate]. A rotary-engined replacement will not arrive before the year 2013, as development of the unique engine is both costly and time-consuming. Like any good car with an environmental problem, the RX-8 is receiving a few tentative test upgrades. An E85 version is being raced at the Targa Tasmania, but likely won’t ever be available for sale. Meanwhile, Mazda’s RX-8 rehabilitation efforts likely come down to making a long-rumored hydrogen rotary engine version production-ready. And with nothing planned before 2013, it’s looking like Europe will have to do without the uniquely rev-happy, hard-handling, performance bargain that is the RX-8 for some time.