Mazda continues rotary engine development

Mazda will continue to develop its unique rotary engine, which last saw use in its scintillating Mazda RX8 sports car.

Speaking to Autocar, Mazda boss Takashi Yamanouchi said that research into future rotary engines will continue as long as he works at the company, outlining:

“The challenger spirit that has made us the world leader in rotary engines is still alive and well at Mazda.”

Following stricter emissions guidelines, Mazda chose to withdraw its rotary engine for a period of assessment.

Following the introduction of Mazda’s Skyactiv technology, focused on improving efficiency, advances in combustion engine technology could be applied to the rotary unit (although a different configuration to the conventional combustion engine), improving fuel economy and emissions output.

Mazda believes there are useful gains to be had from more technologically advanced ignition systems – employing these would also help boost power alongside an associated drop in fuel consumption on CO2 output.

It is thought a new rotary engine could make it to production within five years. If this is the case then it could prompt a resurrection of the firm’s RX sporty model series, featuring a three-rotor Wankel engine.

It is thought the new motor would initially be offered in naturally aspirated form only, with a turbocharged version – again helping improve performance vs emissions – following later.

Mazda has had great success with the its rotary engine, pioneering the technology on a large production scale in its RX7 road car and achieving motorsport glory with a turbocharged version of its rotary unit at the 1991 Le Mans 24 hours.

The marque is the first and only Japanese firm to have won the French classic outright, but also the only manufacturer to use rotary power in doing so.

What do you think of Mazda’s wonderfully characterful rotary engines? Would you like to see a rotary-engined Mazda RX9 in the future, packed full of Skyactiv technology? Let us know below.