Mazda’s rotary sports car is still ‘a dream,’ says executive

Rotary fans hoping for a successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars will have to temper their enthusiasm, despite the return of the iconic engine as a range extender in an eco-car.

The rotary engine may return to Mazda showrooms in 2023 after a decade out of production, but a new RX-badged sports car with iconic engine design isn’t any closer to reality.

As reported last week, mazda has revived its unique rotary engine design for a range-extender plug-in hybrid ‘R-EV’ version of the MX-30 Small SUV: 11 years after he was killed in order to RX-8 production in 2012.

Now Mazda executives have told the UK magazine car There are no plans for a new rotary-powered sports car to succeed the RX-7 and RX-8, though it remains on the company’s engineers’ personal wish list.

“Rotary is our symbol. Mazda engineers dream of having a sports car with a rotary. Now is not the time for that,” said Yoshiaki Noguchi, assistant manager of Mazda’s powertrain development division. car.

“When the situation of the company is much better [in regards to completing its roll-out of hybrid and electric models]We can think about that dream another time.”

Mazda MX-30 Program Manager Wakako Uefuji said car: “We need to keep the electrification of the models for this era. This is the first thing we do, but maybe in the future [a sports car may happen].”

The Japanese automaker has toyed with the idea of ​​a new rotary sports car repeatedly over the past decade, from filing a series of patents featuring multi-rotor engines and hybrid power, to revealing the RX-Vision coupe concept from 2015.

The last rotary-powered Mazda in production, the four-door RX-8 sports car, was discontinued in 2012 after it no longer met European emissions standards.

Mazda executives say the efficiency of the rotary engine in the MX-30 R-EV, an all-new 830cc single-rotor design, has improved compared to the 1.3-litre twin-rotor ‘Renesis’ unit in the old RX-8.

“There are three big challenges with the press. The economy is number one. At the same time, you should make it lighter to improve range. Then improve reliability,” said Mr. Noguchi car.

The UK magazine reports that the use of direct injection (instead of the old port injection) improves fuel economy by up to 25 percent and reduces CO2 emissions, according to Mazda engineers.

However, according to official data released by Mazda, the MX-30 R-EV’s rotary engine is said to consume 9.7 liters of fuel per 100 km once the battery runs out after 85 km of driving.

The final run of automatic RX-8s sold in Australia had achieved fuel consumption rates of 8.9 l/100 km on the highway, 12.1 l/100 km in mixed driving and 17.6 l/100 km in the city.

car It also highlights the side casings of the aluminum engine that save 15kg, and a higher compression ratio than the previous rotary engine.

There’s also a “thickness change” and a new coating for the apex seals: the strips on the three tips of the rotor that make contact with the outside of the engine chamber.

Mazda claims that these changes to the apex seals, known to be a key failure point in rotary engines, “improve wear resistance” and reliability.

Mr. Noguchi said car The MX-30’s engine would “work fine” at high speeds for a sports car, but in the MX-30, it will run between 2450 and 4500 rpm to produce power for the battery and electric motor.

In the Mazda MX-30, the tiny new-generation rotary engine produces 55 kW and 116 Nm, less than a third of the power and half the torque of the 1.3-liter rotary engine in the 2012 RX-8 GT sold in Australia.

As reported last week, the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is what’s known as a range-extender plug-in hybrid, or a ‘series’ plug-in hybrid.

That means the rotary motor is used to generate power to charge the battery, which in turn drives the wheels. The battery can be recharged independently of the wheels by plugging it in, but the rotary motor cannot drive the wheels directly.

However, Mazda Australia has expressed interest in introducing the 2023 Mazda MX-30 R-EV in local showrooms. Handle understands that even if it passes, it may not get here until 2024 at the earliest.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed to Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flipping through car magazines to an early age to grow around performance. vehicles in a car-loving family.

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