The Case for the Rotary Engine

I’ve heard technically minded people say the rotary engine is a simple yet unique creation. I’ve heard many good things about it and despite not having firsthand experience with one, I tend to believe what I have researched. The engine, named after its creator, Felix Wankel, is often associated with Mazda, although it has applications in both the aircraft and motorcycle worlds.

The Wankel engine is regarded for acceleration, smoothness, and power to weight ratio. Proponents point to better designs via not needing crankshafts, rods, valves, or camshafts.

“Most people don’t realize the numerous advantages the rotary engine offers over a standard 4-stroke engine,” explains Frank Mitchell, Manager and Director of “Dare I say it, but rotary engines are in many ways the best engine option available.”

Against their piston pushing counterparts, the Wankel engine has been unable to compete in certain areas, but that might be changing

“While the rotary’s emissions aren’t as clean as other engines, Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies are impressive. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mazda has found a way to make the rotary engine meet future emissions standards,” Mitchell said.

The below graphic from explains rotary engine function, characteristics, and perhaps why Mazda adores it so much. The chart also mentions the rumored return of the rotary engine in the new Mazda RX-9, although Mitchell is careful with his words.

“I don’t have any insider info, and I’m not offering any predictions here, but I’d be shocked if Mazda brought back the RX without offering a rotary engine,” he said.

What do you think of the Wankel/Rotary Engine?

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

Mazda Rotary Engine Infographic

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