The Wankel rotary engine is a wonderfully visceral thing. It clatters and sings and produces an absurd amount of power for its size. But it’s also archaic, in the way old cars often are, which makes it odd to think Mazda wants to bring it back, according to a report by WIRED.
Rotaries are what made Mazda, in cars like the 1968 Sports Cosmo. The sleek two-seater I drove at Mazda’s top-secret Mine test track smelled of gasoline and weathered leather and wood. The houndstooth interior only added to the vintage vibe. No power steering, sticky drum brakes, a car so simple you could feel the mechanics in every action and hear the rotary engine rattling-not humming, mind you, rattling-loud up front. Next up was a 1984 RX-7 with no traction control. I nearly lost it on the first corner, the car’s tiny wheelbase allowing the wedge to spin like a bottle with the slightest prodding of the throttle. Then there came a second-gen RX-7, and an early 2000s RX-8.
Each packed a rotary engine. As the Mazda folks constantly reminded those of us driving the cars, this is something no other automaker could offer, because no other major automaker has mass-produced a rotary powered car.
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