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Mazda Attempting a Rotary Engine Revolution, Again

Updated April 5, 2016

You know how some European automakers were determined to try and make us love diesel engines in passenger cars until last year’s VW emissions scandal pretty much put paid to that hope for good? Well, it seems Mazda may be just as evangelical as its European rivals when it comes to promoting an alternative engine technology. Thankfully though, it appears Mazda is looking to bring us something altogether more palatable as it’s looking to resurrect the Wankel rotary engine once again, in its new RX-Vision sports car.

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Although the idea of a rotary engine is a lot easier to warm to than a diesel, it’s fair to say they’ve certainly had their issues in the past. Rotary engines are notorious for burning oil, and they’re also well-known for blowing seals and producing very little in the way of torque. Perhaps their worst trait in the past though, has been that they’re pretty lousy when it comes to those all-important EPA fuel economy figures.

However, with gas prices being relatively low and looking like staying that way for a while, it might not be a bad time for Mazda to try again. But there’s more to this than just Mazda giving the technology yet another try. Some recently-posted patents show the automaker has been working hard on updating the Wankel format for the modern market.

The patents show a new mounting strategy that should make the rotary unit fit better under the hood, while at the same time delivery better performance. The new unit also has low intake ports rather than the conventional high-mounted ones, which once again, should result in improved performance.

The most exciting thing (other than the car itself) is that this new way of packaging the rotary engine also makes it possible to fit a large-sized exhaust turbocharger.

The Japanese automaker isn’t giving too much away at present, but it all looks and sounds very interesting at this stage.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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