Marvelously simple and compact yet viciously inefficient, variants of the spinning triangle have been used in Mazda's cars for over 40 years. However, Itís a well-known fact that the 13B twin-rotor engine in the current RX-8 is a gas-guzzler, rivaling some V-8s for thirst.According to Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazdaís powertrain chief, development of a new rotary engine, dubbed the 16X due of its 1.6-liters of displacement, is ongoing but still years away from production.
Hitomi revealed that the new 16X engine is around 30 percent more fuel efficient than the 13B engine found in the RX-8, and about on par with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder in terms of fuel economy and emissions. But sadly, this level of performance is at least one model year behind schedule so it may take another two years for Mazda to further improve the design and announce production, Hitomi conceded.
The good news is that for Mazda at least, dropping the rotary engine is not an option. But getting more out of the rotary design while decreasing emissions and fuel use is certainly a hefty challenge, especially when cost and reliability issues need to be considered as well.