Mazda rotary engine - before and after
A sports car is a low car with a huge engine, true or false? Mazda says false. 1,3 naturally aspirated and stunning 250HP in the latest RX8. The RX7 even features a sequential twin turbocharged 1,3 with 280HP.
Especially for the newer generations, the Wankel engine is considered a Mazda engine only. A thorough look at the years after 1950s proves otherwise. The first Wankel engine was started in 1957 and produced 21 hp. It has many design differences compared to what we can see nowadays. Alfa, Ford, Nissan, Porsche and Suzuki are just some examples of companies that tried to take advantage of the new technology. So, the Wankel engine is lighter, simpler, has less moving parts and has twice the power coming from the same displacement. So there must be something wrong, look around, 4 pistons, 4 strokes, all around us. The seal system of the Wankel engines has improved significantly through the years, but it still remains the main drawback of this engine. It turns out that MPG wise it is comparable to a V8 with the same performance.
After all, who is using these engines nowadays? The answer is Mazda. The sporty coupe with RX badge is powered by this technology. And it turns to be a successful one through the years. The RX7 has sold more than 800 000 units till it was replaced by the RX8 in 2003. Through its 24 years of manufacturing the RX7 always somehow managed to find its niche on the market. In the late 1970s and early 1980 it used to be a participant in some of the greatest motorsport events. The world rally championship, the Australian Touring Car Championship, 24 hours of Le Mans and so on.
What is the future? The RX9 it seems. According to some press releases it will more resemble the RX7 rather than the RX8. Mazda seem to be sticking to modern technologies and is going turbo again. Unlike the RX8 the new RX is expected to have plenty of torque not being naturally aspirated. Combined with a LSD transmission it will definitely be a great fun to drive. Less than 1250 kg, expected 290 hp and the REVs of the Wankel engine promise to make 2014 a good year. Yet another reason to hope 2012 is not fatal.