But it’s not going to happen in the near future

The return of rotary engines in Mazda’s stable has been a constant rumor ever since the last Mazda RX-8 left the factory what seems like an eternity ago. The Japanese manufacturer acknowledges this and, now, with the introduction of the Skyactiv-X engine in the new Mazda3, we might finally see the Wankel technology return in a modern guise.

Mazda unveiled the new Mazda Mazda3 at the L.A. Auto Show this week and it’s a looker, there’s no doubt about. It gets better when you realize that it also features some neat technology in the form of the Skyactiv-X engine which attempts to replicate the way diesel engines work with a gas engine. This new technology might be the gateway to a return of the rotary engine. We already know Mazda plans to bring the Wankel back and use it as a range extender for some of its hybrid cars in the future but we’re hoping for more, we’re hoping for a new RX, and this might be the way to get it.

Is Skyactiv-X the road to a new RX from Mazda?

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again Exterior
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Mazda wasn’t the first to introduce the Wankel engine technology into series production, but they were the ones that stuck with it when no one else in the automotive industry believed in these oil-hungry engines. That’s why now, almost a decade since the RX-8’s life cycle ended; fans are still pleading with Mazda to come to return to one of their core traditions, that of making rotary-engined cars.

2018 Mazda RX-7 High Resolution Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Our Rendering of what the Next-Gen Mazda RX-7 may look Like, based on the 2015 Mazda RX Vision Concept

While many rumors have flooded the internet and many magazine articles were written about Mazda’s intent of bringing the Wankel back, nothing came to fruition up until now, bar from a few nice concepts such as the luscious RX-Vision. With that being said, there is hope for a future where there is an efficient, Wankel Mazda in production. The way to make it happen could be through the new Skyactiv-X technology that will debut on the Mazda3 next year.

The much-discussed Skyactiv-X engine was touted as being ’sparkless’ but, what it has, is ’Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition’ which is Mazda’s way of saying that it’s a high-compression engine wherein a spark plug lights up only part of the fuel in cylinder which, in turn, compresses the lean mixture throughout the rest of the cylinder, producing a ’spontaneous’ ignition. But it’s not really spontaneous as such because there’s still a spark plug there to light a bit of the fuel before the whole thing gets hot.

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again
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2001 Mazda RX-7 Shown Here

This technology is said to make way for a very economical engine. This is one of the problems of a rotary unit. Yes, it’s a very efficient concept, but it lacks the level of economy of standard engines. However, it’s unclear how Mazda plans to incorporate the Skyactiv-X ideas into a Wankel design.

Jalopnik talked to Mazda’s Vice-President of R&D and Design, Masashi Otsuka, who said that they’re looking into it and that there’s a possibility of it all coming together, but he didn’t say much more. What he did add, though, was that the rotary is a fun engine and that it’s part of Mazda’s uniqueness which is why is the company’s duty to keep investing time and money into this otherwise ignored technology.

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again
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2010 Mazda RX-8 Shown Here

Of course, as we’ve previously reported, the cylinder-less engine will be back as a range extender on a small, new, hybrid car that will be launched next year by Mazda. When the Japanese automaker announced these plans, they said that "the rotary engine’s small size and high power output make multiple electrification technology solutions possible via a shared packaging layout." Let’s hope there are solutions out there for a car with a standalone rotary engine to be feasible because we know that, if it will happen, it will not be a boring car!

Most Recent Mazda Rotary Specifications

2010 RX-8 6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Sport Automatic
Engine type 1.3-liter 2-rotor rotary 1.3-liter 2-rotor rotary
Engine code RENESIS RENESIS
Horsepower 232 hp @ 8500 rpm 212 hp @ 7500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 159 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm 159 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm
Redline 9000 rpm 7500 rpm
Displacement (cc) 1308 1308
Compression ratio 10.0 : 1 10.0 : 1
Fuel system Multi-port electronic fuel injection Multi-port electronic fuel injection
Required fuel Premium unleaded (91 octane) Premium unleaded (91 octane)
Ignition system Electronic 4-coil with iridium-tipped multielectrode spark plugs Electronic 4-coil with iridium-tipped multielectrode spark plugs
Induction system 6 side intake ports with 3-stage variable induction system (VIS) and variable fresh air duct 6 side intake ports with 3-stage variable induction system (VIS) and variable fresh air duct
Exhaust Stainless steel with low-backpressure main muffler Stainless steel
Rotor housing Aluminum with chrome-steel liner Aluminum with chrome-steel liner
Side housing Cast iron Cast iron
Emission control type (Fed/Cal) Tier2 Bin5 / ULEV II Tier2 Bin5 / ULEV II
Type Front-midship engine rear-wheel drive (RWD) with powerplant frame Front-midship engine rear-wheel drive (RWD) with powerplant frame
Transmission Close-ratio 6-speed manual with short-throw direct linkage shifter 6-speed electronically-controlled Sport AT with paddle shifters and Adaptive Shift Logic

Further Reading

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2019 Mazda Mazda3

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again
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Check out our historical review of the 2001 Mazda RX-7

Mazda's Skyactiv-X Technology Could Make the Wankel Rotary Engine Feasible Again
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Read up on the 2010-2011 Mazda RX-8

Source: Jalopnik

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