Currently reading: Rotary sports car "a dream", says Mazda powertrain boss
Mazda still wants to make a rotary sports car, but says such a car is a long way from production

Mazda still wants to make a rotary sports car, but such a model remains a long way from production.

Rotary technology returns to Mazda with a plug-in hybrid version of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV. The tech is scalable and able to be used on other applications beyond its 830cc single-rotor application on that car.

“Rotary is our symbol," said Yoshiaki Noguchi, assistant manager of Mazda's powertrain development division. "It’s a dream of engineers at Mazda to have a sports car with rotary. Now is not the time for that.

“When the company situation is a lot better [in regards to completing its roll-out of electrified models], we can think about that dream another time."

Wakako Uefuji, Mazda program manager, product division, added: “We need to keep the electrification of models for this era. This is the first thing we do but maybe in the future."

Her quote illustrates the product roll-out for Mazda: its first focus is to electrify its core range, of which rotary hybrid plays a part, but it is not ruling out sports car applications in the future.

It's now 11 years since the Mazda RX-8, Mazda's last rotary-powered sports car, went out of production. It raised hopes of a return of the technology with the Mazda RX-Vision concept car in 2015, but it's on a small crossover where rotary has made its comeback.

Mazda has made huge improvements to the rotary engine since it was last used, improving efficiency and reliability.

“There are three big challenges with rotary,” said Noguchi. “The economy is number one. At the same time, you need to make it lighter to improve the range. Then improve reliability.”

Mazda now uses direct injection rather than port injection, which improves economy by as much as 25%. This in turn reduces CO2 emissions, while rotary engines have always been low NOx pollutants.

Aluminium side housings reduce weight by around 15kg alone. A higher compression ratio of 11.9 features, and a change in thickness to the apex seal and a new coating for this improves reliability.

Noguchi said that the new rotary engine would still perform well at high engine speeds which makes it well suited for a sports car, though in the MX-30 R-EV it runs between 2450-4500rpm as it is used as a generator for the battery.

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Anton motorhead 16 January 2023
A Wankel engine - great as it is - has it's inherent problems, which makes it hard to see as a viable solution in personal transportation in the electric power focused times we live in. My dream would be to see Mazda's new inline 6 engine in a smart sports coupe instead of the CX-60 and a downsized version of it in an MX-5 as a last farewell to the ICE car.
russ13b 15 January 2023

find it hard to believe they couldn't give the range extender engine some hybrid hardware and get it in to an MX-5

LP in Brighton 14 January 2023

Like the concept but would not want it in an SUV!