Technical issues beset SKYACTIV rotary?

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The new RX-7 is some way off in the future, and one of the sticking points seems to be about achieving the fuel economy and emissions targets for the engine set to power it.

That was always to be expected, with rotaries notorious for their prodigious thirst, but the solution has major ramifications for not only Mazda's R&D efforts, but also its manufacturing base.

In conversation with last week, new Mazda Australia MD Martin Benders suggested that Mazda's next rotary-engined sports car will have to move away from the 1.3-litre swept volume of the RX-8's Renesis engine and 13B rotaries before that.

"I think the way that they were working was that they were going to have to increase the capacity of the engine to be able to do that, and that will require a fair amount of re-tooling to do … to justify that sort of investment," Benders said.

The situation for Mazda is like an analogue of Toyota's Prius, which increased in engine capacity from 1.5 to 1.8 litres for the current third-generation model, delivering more power and torque, while also reducing overall fuel consumption.

Along with Mazda's recent financial problems, it serves to explain why the RX-7/RX-8 successor is a medium term prospect rather than something we'll see next year.

Mazda in Australia would certainly welcome a modern-day RX-7, says Benders.

"It would be nice to have a couple of halo models, and we’re certainly putting up our hand to Mazda in Japan to say, you know, a couple of halo models, like MX-5, like RX-8, which give you that nice sort of cream on the brand..."

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