A Wankel, or rotary, engine is a bit of an automotive conundrum these days. It is a technology with some very distinctive pros and cons, making it very controversial amongst car people. In fact, Mazda is the only company that has dabbled with it in modern production cars, and the RX8 just recently went out of production. The rotary is the trademark feature of their RX line of sports cars, in the same way that a rear engine design is the hallmark of the Porsche 911. I got my first taste of a rotary when I reviewed the RX8, and I thought it was quite fun. So when my friend Shane told me I could borrow his ’91 RX7 convertible for the afternoon, while he was at work, I jumped at the opportunity. Sunny day, convertible sports car, rev happy Wankel motor, it sounded like a great time to me.
We were in attendance for Street Wars 8. The show was a lot smaller than last year due to organizational issues, but there were still plenty of quality cars to see. Photos are by both myself and Dan Valanzola. Enjoy the gallery. Read the rest of this entry »
With the Mazda RX8 being phased out this year for reasons concerning a “lack of demand”, one must wonder what has gone wrong. The RX8 is a car that had some pretty decent sales numbers early on. Its sports car dynamics with a practical twist gave it much appeal for many people. Yet, today, in 2011, the demand has fizzled out, and I expect the reason is similar to two past offerings from Honda that shared a similar fate. Read the rest of this entry »
There is talk now at Mazda, as in the past, about discontinuing development of rotary engines for use in production cars. At this point the only model to still use a rotary is RX8, which will cease production after this year. However, the rotary power plant has been the staple of Mazda’s flagship RX sports cars all along, so there is a bit of identity issue at play here as well. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always been a bit hot and cold on the RX8. I always saw it as a downgrade from the FD generation RX7, and I thought it was underpowered, especially when compared to the likes of its competition. I had also heard it had no torque at all and needed to be pushed hard if you wanted to go anywhere at all. Everyone I had ever met who owned one loved it and swore by it as a proper driver’s car, and of course on Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson loved it as well. So, there are a lot of people who like it, but I was left wondering why. I realized the only way I could really finalize my opinion was to go out and drive an RX8, so I did. Read the rest of this entry »