Everyone loves the rotary engine. They might never want to own one but hell awaits the soul that dares declare hatred for the unconventional mill. It revs to the moon and back, is compact and lightweight, responds extremely well to boost and makes a great noise; like a banshee chewing on nails… or a racing grasscutter.
The rotary engine was a real love-hate relationship as for all its constructive traits, the thing was dogged by unreliability though ultimately it was emission standards that sent it to the scrapyard in the sky.
Mazda and rotaries are synonymous. They weren’t the pioneers but they did manage to refine it and gave it a good run in its portfolio. Secretly, we’ve all been wishing the Hiroshima carmaker would revive the high-revving engine from the dead.
Well, careful what you wish for. Mazda is indeed bringing back the rotary engine to its line-up, what more in a model with suicide doors.
“Slap me, is this the replacement for the RX-8 I’d trade my kids for?” No slaps today for you.
Instead, the unconventional engine will be put to use as a range-extender in the MX-30 electric vehicle. Don’t cry yet, we’ll tell you why.
When the MX-30 first debuted late last year, it was capable of approximately 200km courtesy of a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The limited range might be a detrerrent for buyers though so Mazda will fit a rotary engine to charge the battery packs when additional mileage is required.
Rotaries as range-extenders isn’t something new. Mazda themselves toyed with the idea back in 2013 on the Mazda Demio EV RE (Rotary Extender) prototype packing a 330cc single-rotor engine that came online when the battery was running low to charge them and extend the range. Even Audi applied a rotary range-extender on its A1 E-Tron electric concept.
Mazda indicated that the range-extender in the MX-30 could double the range to around 400km, effectively putting it on par with conventional petrol-powered vehicles.
Although this isn’t how any of us imagined the rotary revival, the fact that Mazda will be putting it back into production is evidence that they’ve been working on it and perfecting its flaws so that one day, we may see the RX-9.