The Wankel engine appears to have a bright future ahead as Mazda spills the beans about a revival of the rotary in an upcoming replacement for the sporty RX-8. U.K.-based AutoExpress says the automaker is eschewing the idea of turbocharging its rotary in favor of its trendy and efficient ‘SkyActiv’ engineering methods. Though no solid details have been confirmed, Mazda seems to have conveyed a few "understandings" to AE in regards to the car’s structure and engine performance targets.

Besides the high-revving rotary, the upcoming car is said to be based on a stretched version of the soon-to-be-unveiled, next-gen MX-5 Miata. It’s likely the chassis will have to undergo some strengthening in order to deal with the larger amounts of horsepower. Though it will be beefed up, Mazda will surely work hard to keep the new vehicle under the old RX-8’s 2,888-pound curb weight.

The RX-8 replacement is expected to hit showrooms for the 2017 model year after it makes its world debut in 2016.

Click past the jump to read Mazda’s powertrain performance targets.

2017 Mazda RX-8 Replacement

Mazda RX-8 Successor Planned For 2017 High Resolution Exterior
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The new Wankel Rotary engine is said to be undergoing a heavy makeover under Mazda’s ‘SkyActiv’ philosophy; low weight, higher compression ratio, and quick revs are all part of the plan. It’s also a goal of Mazda to reduce the Wankels inherent thirst for oil and fuel. Innovative new gaskets will be required on the three tips of each rotor to help in these areas.

Though its possible to turbo charge a Wankel, Mazda is reportedly staying away from the idea — both as a cost- and fuel-saving measure. Despite the lack of forced induction, Mazda reportedly has a goal of 300 horsepower — 62 more ponies than the old rotary engine found in the RX-8. Adding more torque is also a high priority, though Mazda didn’t announce its targeted number. Thankfully, the new car is said to keep the traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout.

The 2017 launch of the RX-8 replacement — its name is still undetermined — coincides with the 50th anniversary of the original 1967 Mazda Cosmo, a two-seat, grand-touring car not imported into the U.S.

Why It Matters

Mazda has a long history with grand touring cars, especially the famed RX-7 and later RX-8. The revival of such a platform powered by a SkyActiv-engineered Wankel Rotary engine is a big deal to the Japanese automaker. Besides the top-line grand touring cars, Mazda also has a rich history of auto racing to pay tribute to and continually honor with its future products.

Look for the new RX-8 replacent to be a strong competitor to the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, and Scion FR-S.

Mazda RX-8

2010 - 2011 Mazda RX-8 High Resolution Exterior
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The RX-8 served as the replacement for the iconic RX-7, though the 8 was a bit of a departure from the 7’s two-door, two-seat design. The new car debuted for the 2003 model year and featured two conventional doors for access to the front two seats and two rear-facing "suicide" doors for access in to the rear two seats. The design was nearly revolutionary in the industry, but never gained much ground with integration from other automakers.

The RX-8 came powered by a 1.3-liter, two-rotor Wankel engine making 247 horsepower in its "High Power" form. Since the rotary engine enjoys a design with little reciprocating mass, the engine’s red line was set at 9,000 rpm. A six-speed manual, five-speed manual, or a six-speed automatic was available to send power to the rear wheels.

Source: AutoExpress

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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