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New-gen Mazda rotary nears

Another one: Mazda has confirmed that a new-generation rotary-powered sports car is in the pipeline to replace the current RX-8.

Mazda will continue to improve the rotary engine in future sportscar applications

12 Apr 2010

MAZDA has reaffirmed its faith in the rotary engine, revealing that it is working on a sportscar replacement for the RX-8.

But the company stopped short of confirming if the next-generation rotary would feature direct-injection Sky G engine advancements.

Further, Mazda would not elaborate on widespread speculation that a rear-wheel-drive coupe smaller and lighter than the existing seven-year-old RX-8 coupe would be introduced as the RX-7 in a nod to the 1978 to 1985 original.

But Mazda said two distinct sportscar lines – a rotary powered coupe and the MX-5 – would continue.

Some reports have suggested that Mazda will market a new RX-7 alongside the RX-8 series.

“The rotary engine is symbolic for Mazda technology, and there are new engineers that join Mazda because of the rotary engine,” said the Japanese firm’s global sales, marketing and customer service boss, Masazumi Wakayama, during a visit to Melbourne earlier this month for a meeting with the Australian operations and press corps.

“We have that essence of ‘Zoom-Zoom’ and the rotary engine really embodies that essence … and therefore we are going to continue development and make improvements to the petrol rotary engine,” he said.

Asked if there will be Sky G-like technology adopted for the next rotary engine since previous iterations were known for being thirsty and ‘dirty’ as far as pollution is concerned, Mr Wakayama remained coy, saying instead that expending resources to developing engines that the majority of customers buy is Mazda’s priority since it will put cleaner cars on the road sooner.

 center image Left: Mazda RX-8 rotary engine.

“We want to consider the environment and how we can introduce new vehicles with new technologies in vehicles that we sell the most … but the first thing we have to do is introduce this new technology in the areas that will have the most impact in society,” he said.

But Mr Wakayama would not comment on whether a more affordable, RX-7-like sportscar with larger volume potential than the current RX-8 might become part of that.

“I am not going to answer that specific question about (a possible) RX-7, Mr Wakayama said.

“But it would probably very difficult for a company of our scale and size to have the product line-up of an MX-5 and RX-8 and an RX-7 on top of that.

“We will only have two sportscars.”

Meanwhile, Mr Wakayama indicated that German car-maker Audi might be interested in Mazda’s progress with the rotary engine in the hydrogen/rotary Mazda5/Premacy electric vehicle concept, since it espouses similar technology to the Audi A1 e-tron concept car that was one of the stars of last month’s Geneva motor show.

“Maybe Audi has their own rotary development but they may be interested in our rotary technology,” he said.

“And the rotary engine is very suitable for that kind of electricity generation because it is very stable at high speed and high revolution.

“But I don’t think Audi (is in the habit) of copying somebody else’s technology.”

However, Mr Wakayama would not comment as to whether Mazda might follow the Germans’ lead by considering a future iteration of the rotary engine as a range extender in an electric version of an Audi A1-sized vehicle such as the Mazda2 or its successor.

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