Mazda's Rotary Era Comes To An End
Mazda is set to build the final RX-8, bringing a temporary end to the rotary engine, which powered its flagship sports cars for 45 years.
Mazda is all set to revive the rotary engine within the next year as a hydrogen-fueled range extender for an upcoming electric vehicle. But the future of Mazda has already been tied to their Skyactiv engineering and traditional piston engines.
In 2013, Mazda will return to LeMans and sports car racing with a Skyactiv diesel powered car. In 1991, the company famously won the race with a four-rotor powerplant.
Rather than wax eloquently about the RX-8 and the rotary engine, Bloomberg’s first quote manages to perfectly encapsulate the car
“Fuel efficiency is horrible,” said Meguro, a 41-year-old music producer in Tokyo, who drives a Mazda RX-8 sports coupe. “But I don’t know any car that beats this. I’m going to miss it.”
Umm... Mazda have said repeatedly that they are doing another rotary, possibly two. One is supposed to be the combustion part of a hybrid powertrain. The other is the one I want, the aluminum block (finally) 1600cc version. Their financial issues might cause an issue, but their hints have sounded pretty committed. Anyway, here's hoping it's only the temporary end of an era... again.
My first post after lurking here forever... I commend Mazda for making the rotary work when GM and Mercedes gave up. One wonders where the rotary would be today if several car manufacturers had been competing and pursuing it. Note that rotary engines were quickly banned from Le Mans after the 787B victory in 1991. Again what if... I came close to getting an RX-8 4 years ago, but using it as a commuter in the Boston region would have never exploited its virtues. Instead I got an Infiniti G35x, a nice drive, but hardly a paragon of fuel efficiency either. As others have said, those enthusiasts who have owned one mostly remember them fondly or they've still got it. Also, I really enjoyed Dr Karesh's series on the road trip with his dad even if the RX-8 involved didn't fair too well.
I always thought the rotary in either 1 or 2 rotor form would work well with a hybrid or extended range drivetrain. Not only is it simple but would offset the subpar fuel economy and emissions issues.
highdesercat: Bonus points for name-dropping the NSU and the VanVeen (saw a VanVeen ar DGRR the other year. Very cool) but what do you mean rotaries are hard to rebuild? A stock rebuild on a Mazda rotary is simple as engine rebuilds go. How many other enthusiast cars have people successfully rebuild their own engines with a workbench, a few basic tools and a DIY DVD? We're in the middle of rebuilding my race engine right now with about an hour to tear down the other night to inventory parts needed, and should only take a couple hours to put it all back together. We've also got 2 DIY street rebuilds in our group. Heck, this 1 hour Youtube video gives you most of what you need to know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijJeUk_GqiI&feature=related