Mazda Bringing Back The Rotary Isn’t What We Expected

It should have been the news that we were all waiting for, but sadly, it isn’t.

While Mazda has just announced that the rotary engine will return to production within the next couple of years (2020), the truth is that the rotary which we all know and love, is closer than ever to being confined to the history books.

The new rotary engine will be used as a range extender alongside one of two new electric powertrains. Top Gear have reported that it will be ‘small, light and exceptionally quiet.’ That sound you can hear is that of hearts breaking all across the internet.


While they were never the most reliable, efficient or powerful engine option, they still captured the hearts and imaginations of so many of us. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t appreciate either the distinct idle of one or the epic run to redline of even a conservatively tuned example. They’re an engine with almost unrivalled character and soul.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but I think a lot of us were still holding out hope that someone inside Mazda could have championed the rotary’s return in a more fitting manner. Instead, its return will now likely be as a discreet, glorified battery charger without the brap-brap.

I’m off to YouTube to listen to some rotary compilation videos. I think a day of mourning is in order.

Paddy McGrath
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I wonder if it will make enough power to swap into very small old cars, mini's, mg midgets, honda n600's, etc. That would be redeeming enough for me.


+3 for your comment. Before reading it my first thought was "I wonder if it will be big enough to make a kei car interesting conversion". As for the lack of noise, here's hoping we can change that. Let's not forget that upon the release of the R35, nissan said "we are confident that we have finally made a GTR that is impossible to modify". Took us a few years but we got there.


Telling car people to not modify a performance car is like telling a college kid he's too drunk to have another drink. Guess what we want even more after that.


Amen brother.


I like the way you think.


I'm not surprised. I love the rotary engine, but it's just not practical in today's modern world.

Putting aside the reliability issues, they're not efficient enough.

I'm just hoping whatever rx model they do end up releasing is about the same size and weight as the rx-8 but with power figures to compete with today's modern GT cars (~500 would do nicely)


Rotary engines are able to work really great - if they run at one constant RPM everything can be optimised for. Hence their success in light UAVs and this range extender idea, which Audi talked about before also.


Not Practical is a personal choice. The rotary's practical enough for those people who love it and are willing to spend the time, money and energy on it.

Choices of fuel economy, safety and general usability should be left to the individuals paying the freight, not "society" as a whole.


Your statement is true, but unfortunately it's not a good business practice.

I feel the only reason Mazda is making another rotary is because of rotary fans. If enthusiasts didn't push for another rotary, I feel it would have died with the fd3s.

(I am a massive rotary fan, but I acknowledge both the shortcomings and strengths of the platform)


Can't have a rotary compilation without the 787!


once more fd3s


Both a highly inefficient Wankel engine combined with a hybrid power chain and a Petrol Compression engine due for release in 2020.
Mazda should probably start running drug tests on their engine designers.


You mean a compact lightweight and extremely power dense generator doesn't make sense for an electric car.... Huh




But aren't these amazing?


What a time to be alive :)


To think that this wasn't going to happen was simply naivety. The rotary is very much inefficient in the ways in which our society would need it to be for a production stand-point.

I for one welcome this. And may possibly be the first to say it, even considering that I have a rotary tattoo on my arm. I welcome an electric RX of some caveat being that it MUST have this rotary range extender. What people think of when you mention the RX7 or RX8, yes is the rotary, but also an extremely well handling car. If you remove the rotary, like many do, it's still an amazing car.

Think outside the box...its where the fun is.


Hey, new rotors, housings, seals, etc are being made. All it takes is one mad scientist with a CNC mill to make an eccentric shaft and we can have a brand new rotary engine to drop in an MX-5. I for one am very excited - Range extender or not!


I very much doubt it will be a unit suitable for primary power. As a range extender they'll be built more like a turbine. Lowest weight, high constant revs.


Yes they weren't quite a replacement for a 7, but I'm glad I had 3 years in my 8.

Nothing came close for driving pleasure and comforts all for a measly £1500!


That's cheap as hell. I'd buy one right now for that kind of money.


respect my man


New cars suck worse and worse, doesn’t surprise me another manufacturer is making another turd disgracing it’s own history.


I feel your pain, my man.

But, hey, wouldn't you be interested in the upcoming Ferrari SUV? It'll be the greatest thing since the new FWD BMW minivan.


Ah! What a time to be alive! :D


History is just that. Is everyone stayed true to their history we'd be driving steam powered carriages.


Car manufacturers don't have history anymore, that is a term that is already dead, and when it is used by them we should become wary.
They are one handful of big companies that feed their shareholders.
And collective madness these days provides the money for it.


emission law for cars SUCK large
ships makes more pollution
Respect autos, eco cucks

Colored in Light

As disappointing as it is, I trust in Mazda to do it right. They're making the MX5 better. Maybe the rotary isn't coming to their next sporty coupe, but I still imagine they release a new car with the skyactiv technology that can rival the GT cars.


I'd say this is probably the best that could happen here given everything stated (lack of efficiency, reliability, etc.) and known of the rotary engine. Unlike the Supra and Z cars, new and better versions are possible given the spirit of upgrading so prevalent these days- SURELY as stated someone will immediately create systems to put the new version into sporting and competition use ability. If Mazda manages to make the thing a bit more efficient and user-friendly that would not hurt, either!
Hopefully that might also spur the other Japanese manufacturers to consider upgradeable engine platforms to add to revised versions of their Halo cars (A VR engined Z32 surely would be useful!) and anything else, but most likely that's also a Pipe Dream...even if it makes more sense than their current approach.


It seems to me that battery-electric automotive propulsion systems are promoted mainly by people who are at best ambivalent to cars, and at worst actively trying to see them removed from society.

As car enthusiasts, we almost instinctively understand that all those characteristics of vehicles that the modern world sees as liabilities - the noise, the smell, the speed, the need for maintenance and even the danger and uncertainty - are what gives the automobile its character and our reasons to love it.

And also, the people who promote ever-tightening emissions, fuel economy and "safety" standards aren't car enthusiasts. In fact and as usual, they're not even all that knowledgeable about automotive technology. They just have an agenda.


Pretty rough saying that anyone interested in battery electric isn't into cars. I know tons of people into stuff from US old iron to Japanese compacts and everything in between who can also appreciate what EVs offer and can enjoy the positives provided.
Once my current project is finished and the garage is clear my next build is to transplant a forklift drivetrain into something for a runabout, will stop me feeling guilty about doing 5 min trips with a cold engine!


I, for one, love these.
1) You get the instant torque of an electric, with hopefully massive weight savings from a smaller battery.
2) This is waay better than NO rotary at all, which was the case before this announcement came.
3) They're starting with a pleb application, so what? It's a great way to test the waters. Knowing Mazda, we might have something i8-esque (but hopefully better) very soon, and that shall brap all you want.


A 'rotary range extender' will still have an exhaust pipe and therefore, will still sound like a rotary. No one has accused the Porsche 918 of sounding "not like a Porsche". I for one, welcome any potential future of rotary engines and in concert with electric engines, the car should be quite good. Use of a rotary engine in concert with electric to get around emissions standards, doesn't have to translate into a death knell. The balance will come from the size of the battery pack.

I, personally, would prefer a smaller battery pack (to reduce weight) which will have less capacity. This will translate into more of that rotary sound (which will come...) and still provide increased efficiency and reduced gas thirst. Let's be fair, the only thing a 3-rotor 20B is better at than sounding awesome and turning tires into mush is drinking gas.


That's because the 918's engine isn't stuck in a single engine speed. If all it did was turn on, idle at 3000RPM and then shut off again people would hate it with passion.

This engine will not be driving the wheels, friend. It will be a generator and nothing more. The best you can hope for is for it to be completely silent.


Agreed, this will spin in the background when the computer dictates, it won't be buzzing along in time with your right foot.


As much as I really wanted a pure rotary powerplant and for Mazda to create another rotary powered halo car to succeed the RX-8 (which really isn't terrible by any means), this is probably for the better. It would involve too much R&D money just to try to keep the pure rotary engine efficient enough to pass emissions and this was probably the compromise, bring back the rotary, but just don't have it as a pure powerplant. I still do hold out hope that Mazda does bring back a rotary powered car if they DO eventually develop a rotary engine efficient and practical enough for the future, but in today's age, that won't seem that possible.



This range extender will probably be less than a liter of displacement, so I wonder if swapping for a 13B and rigging some extra axles will qualify for easy hybrid with that sound and soul we all want.


omg... another concept car that will look NOTHING like the actual production car...
I am literally sick and tired of manufacturers pulling the same thing over and over. I even stated this multiple times while I worked for Nissan and they repetitively told me that it drums up interest and then they gain sales at first until it trickles off, then they throw out a redesign and call it the "all new" blah blah blah...
The power-train is the least of my worries, as it will contain a lackluster excuse of another automotive manufacturer attempting to gain fuel economy credits... either make the thing electric and catch up with the times, or build the LAST badass rotary car that you will ever make. If they even end up building it in the first place... I'll believe it when I see it.
Apologies for the bitterness toward "traditional" automotive manufacturers and their frozen mindsets, haha.


To bad no new rotary powered RX-X. But I would still buy an EV looking like the RX-vision.


Couldn't they make some sort of high-performance hybrid, though? Something like that gas turbine-powered Jaguar prototype from a few years ago.

Oh, well.


that thing was cool

Daniel P Huneault

let the rotary die already - the worst mpg I had ever gotten for the lowest hp....


Probably the closest thing you could ever even dream of to getting the rotary back. Hey, as long as you can strap them together, people will hack the shit out of them. MK1 Rabbit with a shit load of range extending rotaries lol?


So instead of a fire spiting rotor we have a rotating stuff with some winding wizardry, and near it a small fire farting rotor.
It was better to keep it a legendary dead engine.


I shall mourn tonight by shooting fire out my exhaust, :'(


While rotary doesn’t have role to turn wheels for now. I belive that rx9 will come as high performance sport hybrid car.
You have electric motor instant torque and screaming sound of rotary match with koenigsegg direct drive. Have best of both world.


The next flood like the one in the Bible with be from my tears as well as all the other mazda ethusiasts out there.

R.I.P. Rotary


"While they were never the most reliable, efficient or powerful engine option"

Absolutely incorrect statement. Rotary engines are one of the most reliable and long lasting motors there are. Rebuilds from karting to formula Mazda are much longer than piston engines.

This guy must have received his auto education from the forums...*sigh*


How about a 600cc one rotor hybrid K car, that could be mad!!!


I'm not surprised. Rotary technology has been developed a lot under the covers by various companies. They are now common place in drones and such for their lightweight construction and such. I wouldn't be surprised if the efficiency has been improved ten fold.


welcome to the future, where auto makers are bringing back our childhood dreams in the worst possible way. the eclipse cross, a crossover advertised tastelessly by some white rapper, the rotary engine, relegated to servicing an electric powertrain.... what next? will our c8 corvette be some soulless EV?


I think it is amazing that Mazda finally decides to bring back the rotary
I hope that it will be a great powerplant for a sports car or a fun-to-drive economy car


I can only hope that Mazda will further develop this technology, so they can put it into what may be the first Mazda LMP1-H and give us a good fight between Toyota and Mazda for the future Le Mans 24H


Even a few years ago it was obvious this would be the next rotary use. With emissions testing they were only ever going to pass if used in a high speed, low load, constant rpm situation.