Mazda Hints at a Return of the Rotary (Again) as a Range-Extending Engine

A new Wankel engine would ideally be coupled to a “generator” of some sort, Mazda says in its official brand magazine.

byChris Tsui| UPDATED May 23, 2017 11:02 AM
Mazda Hints at a Return of the Rotary (Again) as a Range-Extending Engine

Mazda has spent years teasing the possibility that they will bring back a Wankel-powered car into their modern lineup. The last we heard of Mazda's rotary plans, patents were filed outlining a setup that relegated the rotary as a range extender in some sort of hybrid vehicle. Those plans are looking a little more real today, with Mazda dropping heavy hints in its official (and appropriately-named) magazine, Zoom-Zoom.

According to Carscoops, the latest issue of the Mazda mag mentions the possibility of a rotary engine returning in an alternatively-powered car—possibly one involving hydrogen. From Zoom-Zoom:

The rotary may indeed be on the verge of a comeback. As the primary power source, it may be comparatively thirstier as revs rise and fall and loads vary. But at constant and optimal rpm, such as experienced by a generator, it is ideal. 

Little wonder that Mazda has experimented with using these delightfully small engines — one-third the size of a conventional petrol or diesel engine — as on-board power generators, or ‘range extenders’. There are other future possibilities. Rotary engines can run superbly on hydrogen, the universe’s most abundant element. It’s also very clean: combusting hydrogen produces only water vapour.

Zoom-Zoom magazine via Carscoops

For those still holding out for a purely rotary-powered, rear-drive successor to the RX-7 ... well, you'll probably have to keep waiting. On the other hand, Honda recently resurrected their 90s hero, in hybrid form no less. Perhaps what Mazda is alluding to here is a hybrid in the same vein as the new NSX—but, y'know, with a Wankel instead of a V6.

As is standard practice with this sort of thing, it's best not to get your hopes up. We at The Drive, however, are still quietly crossing our fingers.