Mazda confirmed something that enthusiasts have long been clamoring for, a return of the rotary engine. In a live-streamed event for the MX-30 crossover, Akira Marumoto noted that a rotary-powered range-extender was coming for the MX-30, starting in 2021 for the 2022 model year. The compact crossover was first shown in 2019 and is currently sold as a hybrid in Japan and with an all-electric powertrain in Europe.
When asked to be the sole powerplant of a car, rotary engines are lively but have their shortcomings. It seems that Mazda found a way for the power density of a rotary to be put to more efficient use when running at a more constant load as a range-extender, versus the up-and-down load demands of day-to-day driving. Nonetheless, we’re finding it difficult to get excited about this news. It feels too similar to the return of the Mitsubishi Eclipse as a crossover in that it’s likely exactly what consumers are willing to pay for but not what enthusiasts were asking for.
Mazda hasn’t given us any specifics on this new engine, so displacement, output, and efficiency numbers are all still question marks.
Still, the optimist is reminding us that at least there will soon be a rotary engine in production again. As enthusiasts, we have to hope that it brings a new vehicle powered directly a rotary closer to becoming a reality. We wouldn’t count on it though.