Mazda confirms rotary engine return for 2023

Okay, sure – it's in a range extender. But we'll take all the Wankel we can get…

By Matt Bird / Monday, 9 January 2023 / Loading comments

Credit to Mazda, it doesn’t exactly follow the crowd. Its ‘multi-solution’ approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions has so far given us everything from 3.3-litre, straight-six diesels to MX-5s using man-made fuel, with every variation of hybrid and EV in between. Now it’s doing something entirely new, a move that’s been heavily previewed for a long time in fact: it’s building a rotary-powered range-extender hybrid. 

Housed inside its current MX-30, the new model will resurrect technology not seen on a Mazda since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012. Great news for the MX-30, at least, which has been hamstrung since launch by meagre range. The introduction of an electric generator supplied by a rotary powerplant will undoubtedly improve that situation. It might be the most sensible application of rotary tech in the 2020s; because it’ll operate at a constant rpm in a range extender, the inherent smoothness of the engine design will likely come to the fore. And a steady engine speed sounds the best for fuel consumption, too…

Full details are expected on Friday, when the range extender makes its debut at the Brussels Motor Show. For the moment, Mazda has confirmed little more than the existence of a ‘unique plug-in hybrid powertrain’, and that’ll be on sale in the spring. The MX-30 may not be the most PHey of small cars out there, but the reintroduction of rotary power – even in a range extender application – is nothing if not interesting. Expect to learn more by the end of the week.

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