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The return of the rotary: Mazda patents reveal new turbocharged engine design

Should Mazda bring the rotary engine back?

Rumours have swirled for years, but it appears Mazda is finally reviving the rotary engine with new patents emerging in Japan.

It seems the long-held fantasies of old-school Mazda performance fans could soon become reality, with the brand currently investigating ways to make the notoriously inefficient rotary engine less expensive to run.

The new patents were filled recently. The new patents were filled recently.

While Mazda has spoken before about reviving the rotary as a range extender for its upcoming EV products, this doesn't appear to be the case here.

The patents show a new side-port exhaust arrangement (like the 4-2-1 exhaust system in the company’s SkyActiv petrol engines) which will reportedly improve intake efficiency, and a new turbocharger design is bespoke to the powertrain - something that suggests this rotary design could be used as a standalone engine, and not as part of an EV setup. 

Other details such as displacement, power, torque and efficiency were not mentioned in the patents. 

A new turbocharger design was part of the patents. A new turbocharger design was part of the patents.

The last rotary engine Mazda used was in the RX-8, which was eventually removed from sale in 2010 after failing to meet emissions standards.

“A rotary sports car is our dream," Ichiro Hirose, Mazda’s powertrain boss, told CarsGuide in November 2018. “We understand the problems of the rotary engine. But understanding the problems means we can come up with the solutions. So we continue to research and develop the technology.”

Asked outright whether a rotary performance vehicle would feature in the Mazda line-up, Mr Hirose said: “Technology wise, it’s more than 50 per cent. But the business case is the biggest issue. I don’t think it is impossible to make this kind of sports car.”

Should Mazda revive the rotary engine? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.