AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Pistons need not apply
The history of the automobile has been dominated by vehicles equipped with piston-firing engines.
Rarely does something completely different come along, and when it does, it usually fails miserably. One attempt to reinvent the passenger vehicle engine may have not had the smoothest of rides, but did last in the automotive industry for over 50 years and is rumored to be making a comeback soon.
We are talking about the Rotary engine. Lacking pistons, spinning furiously and making a noise that can’t be mistaken for anything else; the Rotary has developed a cult-like following over the decades. And why not? Some rotary powered vehicles may have been utter failures, but others were masterpieces of their time. Here is a list of our top ten rotary powered vehicles.
Battle of the well balanced rear-wheel drivers
We are back with this week’s installment of AutoGuide’s newest, interactive weekly feature ‘Commute, Toy or Destroy’.
The highlight on Mazda’s stand will be the MX-5 NR-A ‘Jimba-Ittai’ (translates to: rider and horse as one) track special. Apart from the funky paint schemes, the MX-5 NR-A will feature 16-inch Enkei alloy rims with Bridgestone tires, 20-mm lower height, Endless brake pads and Takata four-point racing harness, among some other changes.
Sharing the stage with the MX-5 NR-A (not to be confused with the National Rifle Association) will be a special edition CX-5 crossover, the RX-8 Spirit R, which is the final version of this sports coupe, and the MX-5 Black-Tuned, which is a regular MX-5 with some black color features, such as its special BBS rims. Oh, and it also features some rather green seats.
The Tokyo Auto Salon will be held in the city of Chiba from January 13 to 15.
GALLERY: Mazda Auto Salon Preview
Rotaries may seem like a thing of the past these days, especially with Mazda preparing to retire the RX-8. But the Wankel-powered sports car won’t be the last Mazda to get the odd powerplant, thanks in part to a recent breakthrough.
A recently big step forward for Mazda’s engineers is a newly developed laser ignition system that can remove spark plugs from the equation. This has made sealing the Wankel’s combustion chamber easier, resulting in better efficiency and, more importantly, lower hydrocarbon emissions.
This breakthrough could prove to be the catalyst Mazda needs to rejuvenate the RX-7 model, but it all comes down to finding the proper funding.
That influx of cash could come from a partnership with Audi. The two automakers are reportedly in talks and Audi’s A1 e-tron concept did use a 254cc Wankel range-extender underneath the trunk floor. The light weight, smooth and quiet rotary technology could prove the perfect pairing for a future production hybrid drivetrain for Audi.
[Source: Inside Line]
Bad news for Mazda rotary engine enthusiasts – the company has no plans to build the RX-9 hybrid sports car, contrary to recent rumors. Even worse, minimal sales of the RX8 may jeopardize the Mazda rotary engine all together.
Production of the Mazda RX-8 is drawing to a close, with U.S sales of just 291 units from January to April of this year. With production halting on the RX-8, there won’t be a Mazda vehicle to utilize the Wankel 1.3-liter engine. However there is discussion of reviving the RX-7 as a replacement. There is no official go ahead with the RX-7, however it would most likely utilize the next-generation MX-5 platform.
The death of the RX-8 is sad, most notably for its stellar chassis and steering, however issues like horrible fuel consumption, burning oil and a lack of torque were always sore points.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. And be thankful you don’t.
One of Vivid Racing’s customers, Shawn, out in Singapore, sent them over these shots of his Mazda RX-8 sporting a custom widebody conversion and a lot of design cues taken from Lamborghini. In particular there’s a lot of Reventon in the kit, not to mention a front end that resembles the Estoque sedan concept.
Modifications aren’t limited to the body either, with a nice set of Prodrive forged wheels and some AP Racing brakes.
GALLERY: Lamborghini-Styled Mazda RX-8
[Source: Vivid Racing Blog]
Every March for the last few years, drifting fans nationwide stay glued to the Internet for news and videos of their favorite drifters and teams. With the Formula DRIFT season opening up in April on the Streets of Long Beach, teams all over the nation are out testing their off-season changes, new cars and even new drivers. The Bergenholtz Brothers, Ron and Ed, are no strangers to high-horsepower motorsports. They made groundbreaking changes to the world of FWD drag racing, capturing two NHRA Pro FWD championships while campaigning their Mazda 6 race car. But recently they’ve been searching for a new challenge and with drifting gaining speed, momentum and more importantly, sponsors, the Bergenholtz Brothers turned to a new automotive passion.
Recently they announced the signing of Joon Maeng to their team in order to pilot the RX-8 that they built last season. Joon Maeng had been a privateer with his Nissan 240SX for the past couple of years, making some noise amongst all the high-profile competitors that all carry heavy sponsors. It seemed like a great fit when it was announced that Joon Maeng would be piloting the Bergenholtz Racing Mazda RX-8. It was even cooler when they announced their title sponsor would be Full Tilt Poker along with Nitto Tires.
While drifting started out being coveted with Japanese rides from Toyota and Nissan, when it made its splash stateside, domestic muscle has taken center stage. The rumble of the V8 against the screaming turbocharged four-cylinder made the crowd go wild and was something that no one else could witness anywhere. Not even Japan. So it’s great to see the Bergenholtz Brothers throwing a rotary into the mix, pushing over 600whp and 480 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels of this sideways machine. So let’s satisfy what the fans all want, check out the first testing video of the season after the break with Joon Maeng behind the wheels of the Bergenholtz Racing Full Tilt Poker Nitto Mazda RX-8. What a mouthful!
It appears as though Mazda will offer its RX-8 sports car with a rotary engine in the future and as the all-new second generation model is just around the corner, the Japanese automaker has been busy making improvements to the pistonless wonder.
Last October Mazda filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a new twin-spark, direct-injection rotary engine, which was approved last month.
According to the patent it’s possible the new motor will be of a slightly larger displacement and we expect a little extra power. The new twin-spark direct-injection system should also help in the power department, although its main benefit will be in terms of fuel-economy.