Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine.
Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine.

Mazda confirms return of the rotary engine — with a hybrid

MAZDA has finally confirmed it is bringing back the rotary engine, but not as we have known it.

The rotary engine disappeared with the RX-8 in 2012 and the hype and rumours surrounding its return have not abated.

The unique engine was known for its high-revving nature, low torque output and high fuel consumption - three traits not associated with modern car engines.

But the latest iteration will not be stand-alone power - it will be combined with an electric motor as a range extender to charge batteries when required.

Mazda RX-8: The last production vehicle to use a rotary engine.
Mazda RX-8: The last production vehicle to use a rotary engine.

The rotary engine was chosen as a range extender because of its compact size and high power output.

Mazda plans to develop the new hybrid in conjunction with a fully electric vehicle. It is believed Mazda aims to launch both vehicles within a couple of years.

A small manufacturer on the world stage, Mazda is well behind other brands in developing electrified cars - many rivals have several vehicles ready to hit the market.

Mazda boss Akira Marumoto is attempting to remedy this and change the maker's image: "They say that the automotive industry is undergoing a once-in-a-century transformation. At Mazda, we see this as an opportunity to create a new car culture."

The company has a goal to have some form of electrification in all its new vehicles by 2030. At the same time it expects electric vehicles to account for 95 per cent of its sales.

Mazda has previously rejected hybrids and electric cars and instead focused on making far more efficient petrol engines.

Among other developments, its Skyactiv-X tech - due to be used in Mazdas from next year - aims for greater fuel efficiency by igniting fuel with compression rather than a spark, as in diesel engines.