From past to present, here is Mazda’s effort in developing the rotary engine. There is no car company like Mazda which allotted so much time and resources in giving the rotary engine a chance to show its capabilities. The very first car that they released with the Rotary engine was the Cosmo Sport. This rear wheel drive sports car makes a difference and it also creates its own class. Today, the most recent car from Mazda that used the rotary engine was the Rx-8. It was discontinued in 2012 and since then, many car enthusiasts have been hoping for another sports car with the rotary engine. In 2015, Mazda introduced the Rx-Vision Concept and it may give its fans a hint that the legendary engine is making a comeback.
Mazda Cosmo Sport
1967 – 1972
Released in 1967, this car became an instant hit and it was the first Mazda car to use the rotary engine. Internationally known as Cosmo 110s, this car has 110hp from its 10A engine and it sports an agile handling. The first generation of Cosmo Sports ended with its 1972 release and its last generation lasted from 1990 to 1996. Due to its success, this car also received one of the most powerful engines by Mazda, the twin-turbo charged, three-rotor rotary engine called 20B. This engine can produce 300hp with 300 lb-ft of torque.
1971 – 1978
American cars in 1970s were plagued with low powered engines but in Japan, they just started to use larger and more powerful engines on their vehicles. In 1971, Mazda released the Rx-3 and it was powered with 12A engine. This car was the most popular rotary-powered vehicle by Mazda. It has 130hp and over 900,000 units were sold internationally.
Mazda Rotary Powered Pick-up
1974 – 1977
The rotary engine was not only available in cars during the mid-1970s, Mazda also used their rotary engine on their 1974 REPU or Rotary-Engined Pick Up. This pick-up was powered by the early versions of the 13A motor. Unfortunately, even if this release received various upgrades including stretched cab and 5-speed manual transmission, it was discontinued because of its poor sales. Only 15,000 were made during its run from 1974 to 1977.
1978 – 1985
The last classic car on our list, Mazda attempts to compete with Porsche 924 and Nissan 280ZX with the release of the first generation Rx-7 in 1978. Although it was made to compete with powerful cars, the Rx-7 didn’t have enough power but its near-perfect weight distribution is one of its assets. This car was a huge steal in a pool of affordable sports cars, a turbocharged engine emerged in 1983 and it gives Rx-7 a boost on its power. Its new engine produces 165hp with 170 lb-ft of torque.
1985 – 1991
The second generation Rx-7 uses the turbocharged version of the 13B rotary engine. This car was successful and a convertible body option became available in 1988. This car was hailed as the “1986 Import Car of the Year” by Motor Trend. The U.S version of this car only uses the standard 13B engine.
1991 – 2002
The third generation of Rx-7 was still powered by the same 13B engine but Mazda has made several tweaks and upgrades to its engine. Its engine can produce over 250hp with 217 lb-ft of torque. This generation is the most famous and notable rotary-powered vehicle by Mazda. The third generation Mazda became one of the top high-performance vehicles in Japan. Motor Trend gave its “1993 Import Car of the Year” to Mazda Rx-7. However, its charm didn’t satisfy a lot of American car enthusiasts. With its poor sales, the third generation Rx-7 was only available in U.S from 1991 to 1995. In early 2000s, this car received an upgrade. Mazda released a special edition of Rx-7 called “The Spirit R” but it was only available in Japan. Its engine was rated at 280hp with 231 lb-ft of torque.
2003 – 2008
While the Rx-7 ended with powerful engine, the standard engine for the Rx-8 was rated at only 189hp. Although the high-power variant was rated at 250hp, it comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. The design of Rx-8’s body was heavily based on earlier Rx models. It was a 4-door sports car and it was a rear wheel drive.
2009 – 2012
The re-imagined Rx-8 was released in 2009 and was powered with an upgraded version of the 13B engine. Its body was also modified which gives the car a better handling. However, this release was low powered despite of all the upgrades and modifications. The highest output for its engine was only 230hp.
The rotary-powered 787B race car brings Mazda to a new level. It was powered by the four-rotor rotary engine called R26B and it can produce 700hp.This 787B was the only car that won the prestigious “24 hours of Le Mans” without a piston engine.
Mazda Taiki Concept
This concept car appeared at 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, it showcased the upcoming rotary engine called 16X and it was paired with a 7-speed twin clutch gearbox.
During the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda the Rx-Vision concept car. This car will be powered with the brand new rotary engine called the Skyactiv-R. Mazda also said that the upcoming car will finally answer the problems with the past models and it will improve its reliability and performance. The design of the brand new Rx is based on its predecessors particularly, the third generation Rx-7.
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