New Mazda RX Sports Car Could Come With A Turbocharged Rotary Engine
Is the next-gen RX only a year away from reality?by Kirby Garlitos, on
Rumors are meant to be debunked, and yet something about this doozy of a twist has us wishing it would come true. Apparently, there has been a lot of whispers coming out of Mazda surrounding the return of the company’s rotary engine. Now this isn’t the first time that such a rumor has come out, but according to Australian auto site Motoring, the unorthodox engine could be making a comeback to coincide with the return of an RX-badged sports car.
Without diving into any specifics, Mazda’s drivetrain and powertrain assistant manager Tetsushi Marutani told Motoring that the Japanese automaker is currently working on a new rotary engine that could be configured to come with a pair of turbochargers. Marutani-san notes that rotary engines don’t carry the same amount of low-speed torque as other engines. The idea of slapping on a turbocharger or two to the configuration could help it achieve the power level it needs for use on the new RX while also improving fuel economy.
The Mazda exec didn’t dive into the details of the engine, but a separate Mazda source indicated that Mazda is developing a 1.6-liter, hybrid, turbocharged, rotary engine that will make close to 450 horsepower. The hybrid setup would allow electric turbocharging to add power at low RPM levels while a traditional turbocharger would be used at high RPM levels.
Such a scenario addresses Marutani’s concerns and would make the new RX fit for the current climate of the industry, something Mazda knows will be important in determining how the new sports car will be received by the public.
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Why it matters
I want to get excited about the prospect of seeing Mazda’s famous RX line of sports cars hitting the road anew, but I am being cautiously optimistic at this point because there are still a lot of kinks to be worked out before that time arrives. All the talk about the new turbocharged rotary engine is one of them, and it’s predictably going to be a big part of how the cars will be received.
Mazda has kept mum on when the new RX sports car will arrive, but fortunately, there are two dates that are being eyed right now. One would be 2017, which would mark the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine. If there was ever a time to launch this new engine, it would be that year. Martin himself admitted that the company has a lot of plans for 2017. Whether that includes the launch of the new rotary engine is unclear, but all signs, or at least the timing of it, seems to point to that scenario.
The other date is 2020, which is the year that Mazda will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Obviously, this is a far more important occasion that the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine. New technologies, including engines, gearboxes, and drive systems could all be part of the celebration.
If Mazda really wanted to play its cards right, I suggest introducing the new RX in 2017 to coincide with the launch of the new rotary engine. 2020 may be the bigger occasion, but it’s still four years away. That’s a long time to wait for the new RX to arrive. Besides, Mazda should have something bigger and more important in store for the industry by that time.
Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda RX-7 here.