The rotary engine was the brainchild of German engineer Felix Wankel, and Mazda was the first automaker to put the Wankel invention into production vehicles. Mazda has been producing rotary engines and using it to power its cars since 1963, despite its few drawbacks. Over the years, the company has worked on this concept to make even better rotary engines, which culminated with the Renesis series of naturally aspirated rotary engines.
Since the demise of the Mazda RX-8 , the company has put the rotary engine production on hold as newer models moved onto cleaner and more efficient powerplants. Today, the rotary engine does not appear in any Mazda product. An now, the only car maker in the world that has embraced the Wankel engine might be on the verge of putting it to rest for good. We hope that does not happen but that’s what new CEO at Mazda, Masa-michi Kogai alluded to in an interview with Automotive News.
In an interview with the publication, Masa-michi San emphasized on the commercial proposition of the rotary engine. The company would have to generated a sales volume of 100,000 units per year in order to make the rotary engine a viable business option. Masa-michi San also said that generating profits for the company will be a priority and sticking with rotary engines does not seem to be the right path to take, at least for the moment.
The previous boss at Mazda Motor Corp. had hinted at a possible rebirth of the rotary engine in a future hybrid vehicle. The engine would be used to generate electricity to charge a set of batteries. Since then, we haven’t seen a single concept or even an official blurb from Mazda , which begs the question, have we seen the last of the Mazda Wankel rotary engines?
We haven’t heard any details on a possible Mazda RX-7 successor for quite some time now, but new details have surfaced on the internet suggesting that such a rotary-powered successor to the RX-7 could be offered as a competitor for the next generation Nissan Z.
The new RX-7 will sit atop the current Mazda lineup and, unlike the RX-8, it will not come as a four-door coupe. It will, however, again come in the same front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout.
Rumored to be called RX-9, the new sports car will likely be powered by a new rotary engine developed by the company and is set to be put into production within the next five years. This RX-9 will likely be initially offered in naturally aspired version, but a turbocharged version is also a possibility.
According to Mazda officials, a final decision hasn’t been made just yet because the company wants to investigate the economic situation before deciding if to offer the new sports car or not.
We’ll keep an eye out and let you know when we hear more details.
In the land where the Transformers were born - no, we’re not talking about Cybertron - a new robot franchise is set to be born and it’s serving notice to everyone that they’ve got the perfect car-to-robot set-up that could potentially replace Optimus Prime and company.
It’s called Chō Soku Henkei Gyrozetter - no idea what that means - and the early renderings of the characters show some definite promise, particularly the licensed vehicles that are expected to be part of the franchise. Check out the photos and you’ll see that there’s a Toyota GT 86 , a Mazda RX-8 , a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO , and the Godzilla itself, the Nissan GT-R.
Created by Square Enix, the people behind the Final Fantasy video game franchise, Chō Soku Henkei Gyrozetter was first launched recently as an arcade game with an animated film version set to be released later this year.
No word on yet on whether this new animated franchise will head outside Japan, but from the looks of things, we’re expecting a lot based on what we’ve already seen.
When the RX-7 hit near supercar status in the 1990s, the Rotary engine was a thing of beauty and Mazda had all but perfected it. The only remaining downfall was the fuel required to keep the rotors inside the engine spinning. This fuel consumption, plus a restructuring of Mazda’s U.S. market, led to the deletion of the RX-7 and its perfected rotary following the 1995 model year.
When the rotary engine made its way into the sexy, yet fairly flabby, RX-8 in 2004, the rotary enthusiast clamored over its 238 horsepower without any turbo. However, hiding in deep within the engine was its biggest sore spot, a puny 159 pound-feet of torque that sucked up a gallon of gas after only about a dozen miles. Through the RX-8’s life, Mazda refused to turbocharge the 1.3-liter rotary and the new Renesis rotary engine was effectively to blame for the RX-8’s disappearance following the 2011 model year.
This all brings us to today, as Mazda finally closes the chapter on the RX-8 by rolling the final rotary engine off of its production line and into a special edition Mazda Spirit R, which is only available in Japan. This closes one chapter in the life of the rotary engine, as Mazda has no plans to develop a replacement for the failed RX-8, despite rumors of an RX-9.
Even if the rotary is to make a comeback in the future, it will likely not come back as a gasoline engine. We would likely see it used in a gasoline/hydrogen hybrid system, as Bloomberg is reporting that Mazda is currently testing out how this Wankel works on hydrogen.
As much as we once loved the rotary engine, we think it is time to put this old dog down and let us remember the good old days of the 255-horsepower, 217 pound-feet of torque twin-boosted 1.3-liter rotary. The only way we could agree with bringing the rotary back is in a turbocharged sports car platform, like this engine is intended.
If you have ever enjoyed a sweet horror flick, especially vampire, zombie, or werewolf ones, you are likely familiar with fact that the villain just never seems to die. He always comes back for a little bit more. One of my all-time favorites, Zombieland, actually teases about this by the “double-tap,” which is rule No. 2 in surviving a zombie outbreak.
Well, it appears that Mazda didn’t get that memo with the RX-8 zombie. Just like a bad case of zombification, this thing just keeps coming back for more. Mazda recently announced that it has extended the final production of the “Spirit R ” version of the RX-8 – thankfully only available in Japan – for an additional 1,000 units.
In addition to its 232 horsepower that are only attainable at engine speeds not many are comfortable with and its lackluster 159 pound-feet of torque, you also get larger brakes with red painted calipers, piano-black transmission tunnel trim, Recaro Sprint R seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a revised traction control system.
It’s really curious to see just how much mud Mazda can drag the “RX” nameplate through before it finally takes it behind the barn and puts it out of its misery. We still have a lot of love for the RX lineup as a whole, but the RX-8 really tested the patience of RX lovers. Here’s to hoping this is the one and only time that Mazda decides to extend the life of this beautiful ride turned zombie and focuses more on releasing a new RX that will pay the proper respect to the name.
According to the press release, which you can read after the jump, this charade thankfully comes to an end in July of this year.
Click past the jump to read Mazda’s press release.
The Mazda RX-8 is set to run off into the sunset in a year’s time, but for one of Mazda’s most popular models, the inevitable end only means being given a proper swan song before officially saying goodbye.
Before the curtain drops on the RX-8 next summer, Mazda is preparing one final special edition model called the Spirit R. The car will be based on the manual version RX-8 Type RS and the automatic Type E and will be limited to only 1,000 units.
The two model variants of the RX-8 Spirit R will carry distinct styling features, including unique badges, fog lights and rear combination lights decked with black bezels, red painted brake calipers, a piano-black trim for the transmission tunnel, and a choice of three exterior paint finishes: Aluminum Metallic, Sparkling Black Mica, and Crystal White Pearl Mica.
On top of that, each model will have their own features. For the RX-8 Type RS trim, the added goodies include Recaro bucket seats and a special set of 19" bronze alloy wheels. For the RX-8 Type E trim, the changes include a black leather treatment on the interior with contrasting red stitching, a new sports suspension, larger brakes, and a set of 18" alloy in gun metallic finish wrapped in 225/45R18 91W tires.
The special edition RX-8 will drop in dealerships beginning November 24, 2011. So if you’re a fan of the RX-8 and you want to give it the send-off it deserves, here’s your chance to prove it.
UPDATE 05/02/12: Initially limited to only 1,000 units, the growing demand for the RX-8 Spirit has prompted Mazda to extend production of the special edition RX-8, adding another 1,000 models in the pipeline, thereby doubling the total number of this model to 2,000 units. So if you missed out on the first 1K, be happy that you get another shot of getting your very own RX-8 Spirit.
First launched in 2003 as a replacement for the rotary powered RX-7 , the Mazda RX-8 received a face lift in 2009. Even if the four door sports car was a success from the beginning, the little 13B equipped RX-8 made the most of a refreshed exterior and interior with bolder lines and even more details, it was exactly what the car needed to stay ahead in the sport compact market. Available in three trim levels: Sport, Grand Touring and R3, the new RX-8 offers something for everyone from the entry level rear wheel drive shopper to the hard core enthusiast with prices ranging from $26,495 to $32,660. For 2010, the Mazda RX-8 receives a new front bumper design with a larger grille opening and more pronounced front lip that was actually requested by the racing team, new headlamps, wider front fenders, LED clusters in the back and a redesigned rear bumper with larger exhaust tips.
The inside of the freshened RX-8 benefits from some new trim materials making a sportier cockpit and the tachometer now features a variable red zone that rises as the engine comes up to temperature, just like the V8 powered BMW M3 . However instead of an octet of pistons pumping up and down under the hood, there lies a compact 13B twin rotor Renesis engine making 232 HP at a screaming 8,200 RPM and 155 lb-ft of torque. This allows the RX-8 to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in just 6.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 145 MPH.
UPDATE 08/22/2011: Mazda is shutting down production of the RX-8 due to lackluster sales and ever tighter global emissions standards. Last year, the company was only able to sell 1,134 units and this year, sales through July have dropped 21%. Production in Hiroshima, Japan ceased in July and US dealers only have 300 units left to sell this year.
When Mazda first introduced its Wenkel engine in 1961, the automotive world was set alight it. Soon after, many manufacturers clamored to build their own. This engine was an automotive Gibraltar, no matter the challenges it faced, the Wenkel soldiered on. These challenges came from every angle from new emissions standards in 1970 to an oil crisis three years later, in addition to innumerable engineering issues. Mazda cultivated their Wenkel engine and planted it in their sporty RX-7 and it was an instant hit. Even when the RX-8 emerged as a successor to the RX-7 in 2001, the Wenkel heart beat on. Now as the RX-8’s production run is scheduled to end in 2011, a steady stream of rumors about the current Wenkel engine’s successor have flown past our desks.
First, we are going to ask all Mazda fans to take a deep breath. Okay, now that that is taken care of, we have some bad news according to Ward’s Auto Mazda is considering putting the new engine development on hold. The reason for this cutback was that at this time of economic woe, Mazda was looking for a way to reduce expenses and apparently this new engine program is very expensive.
We hope that even as the bean counters are clamoring about diminishing profit margins, Mazda continues to develop this engine. It provides the RX-8 and it’s successor with fantastic high performance and, in the era of pretty and almost all identical cars, Mazda offered a unique take on a sports car. We all hope that Mazda comes to their senses and keeps this iconic power plant.
Although the Mazda RX-8 has passed on and will be replaced in the near future, we still find it to be one of the most interesting vehicles on the road. Sure, it might not be the best to drive, as it takes a whole new approach to get it to go fast, but it looks great and it’s pretty fast as the higher rev range.
Mazda may be killing off the RX-8 due to the motor not meeting the new emissions regulations and the fact that it hasn’t really sold the way the company had hoped, but it’s not gone yet. And Mazda is ensuring that the RX-8 will be remembered as it has presented everyone at SEMA with the RX-8 Grand-Am GT. This version of the Mazda RX-8 has just completed its 2010 racing season and did extremely well, walking away with six out of the 12 races.
Hit the jump for this winning Mazda Grand Am GT RX-8’s specifications.
With the current generation Mazda RX-8 going out of production in 2011, the company has already started the work on the new generation sports car. And according to the Japanese magazine Best Car, the new generation RX-8 will take its inspiration from the recently unveiled Shinari Concept .
As previously reported, the next generation RX-8 will feature a new rotary engine that can run on petrol or diesel. It is a two-stroke 16X engine that in its current state develops a total of 300bhp and sprints the car from 0 to 60mph in under five seconds. That is a significant improvement over the current 231 HP and 6.4 seconds time sprint.
Like all the future models in Mazda ’s line-up, the RX-8’s design language will be described by the word Kodo, which is Japanese for soul of motion. Talking about the new design language, Ikuo Maeda, general manager of Mazda Motor Corp.’s design division said: "this design will lead to the next generation of Mazda design and will lead to other elements."