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20th Anniversary Mazda MX-5 Miata

Will be rolled out globally across entire product line by 2015

In May of this year, President Barack Obama proposed a 35.5 mpg nationwide average fuel economy standard that would be achieved by 2016. The average for cars will be raised to 39 mpg, while the average for light trucks will be raised to 30 mpg.

Mazda is currently known for its line of sporty vehicles, but is currently lagging its competitors in fuel economy. To remedy that, the company is implementing a complete redesign of its four-cylinder engines that will see them paired with new small and light six-speed automatic transmissions.

The new direct-injection gasoline engines will have a combination of smaller displacement, higher power output, and greater efficiency. The fuel injector is placed in the combustion chamber of a direct-injection engine, as opposed to the intake valve in a conventional fuel-injected engine. Mazda is also combining its direct-injection engines with a new electric high-pressure fuel pump and variable intake and exhaust valve timing that will allow more optimal combustion in a wider rev range. The company plans to incorporate these developments into its rotary engines.

Seita Kanai, the head of Mazda's R&D department, said that the redesign of Mazda's 2.0 liter four-cylinder engines paired with the new transmissions would result in a fuel economy increase to 32 mpg from 22 mpg in the city. Highway fuel economy would increase to 42 mpg from 32 mpg.

While not confirming the use of dual-clutch technology, Kanai stated that the next-generation automatic transmission would provide the quick, direct shift quality of a double-clutch transmission system. "No slip means there won't be wasteful heat generation," enthused Kanai.

Idle-stop engine cut-off, regenerative braking, electric power steering, and electric water pumps are just some of the technologies also being considered for inclusion in the company's quest for fuel economy. If Mazda does decide to adopt these technologies across its entire production line, economies of scale could enable the company to bring them to market at a lower cost than other vehicle manufacturers. BMW has already implemented many of these technologies in its "EfficientDynamics" program.

Mazda was particularly enthusiastic last year about idle-stop technologies when it talked about its plans last year, but has been forced to scale back its hype. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't account for the technology during its fuel economy testing, which can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten percent. Mazda doesn't want to foot the bill for installing it if it can't market it to consumers.

Weight reduction is also an important component of Mazda's plan. An additional 3-5 mpg could be achieved through the use of lighter structural materials and new bonding technologies. Mazda will also use its single nanotech catalyst, which reduces the need for expensive palladium and platinum in the catalytic converter by 70-90 percent.

There is a catch though to all of the new technologies though. Robert Davis, Senior Vice President of Mazda's North American Operations R&D, said that the new powertrains cannot be retrofitted to any of its existing product lines. Therefore, the new engines and transmissions will be incorporated into the company's new models as they are developed and introduced.

The redesigned MX-5 Miata convertible or Mazda5 are the most likely to integrate the new technologies first. The entire model lineup will be equipped with the new engines by 2015.
"We want to provide this technology to all owners, not just through a few eco-friendly vehicles," stated Kanai during a media briefing.

Mazda is also considering bringing new diesel engines to the North American market. However, it does not currently have an automatic transmission for diesel engines.

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Fix the RX-8
By Rhl on 8/25/2009 3:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
More specifically, change out that awful rotary engine. That oil-burning chipmunk is what ruins the RX-8's appeal: having to check your oil at every gas station and the incredibly bad mileage just drags the RX-8 down into the realm of subpar.

I'd much rather see a turbocharged I4 or a nice V6 in the RX-8, as the shell of the car is beautiful. The design of the car really is sexy, and having the pullaway doors for easy access to the rearseats is sweet. In fact, how great would the RX-8 be with the turbocharged Mazdaspeed 3 engine? Very sweet indeed.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By sprockkets on 8/25/2009 4:47:22 PM , Rating: 3
You haven't driven an RX-8, have you? It isn't about power, it's about weight. Weight is the enemy of any sports car. You can put all the power you want into a car, but all that weight will suck the joy out of driving it. Oh driving in a straight line is nice, but that isn't fun in the turns. In addition, the rotary engine is placed well behind the front wheels and lower than a V6 ever could, and contributes to its awesome handling.

Try getting 230hp out of any 1.3l engine.

You also don't know that it is set to be replaced by a larger yet lighter 16X Renesis with direct injection and less oil usage.

But, if you want the best V6 powered sports car, get a Nissan 370Z.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By KillaKilla on 8/25/2009 7:48:34 PM , Rating: 2
the best V6 sports car is the GT-R, by the same company.

Also Rotary engines are incomparable to piston engines since they act rather differently, as anyone who's driven an RX-7/8 can attest.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By sprockkets on 8/25/2009 10:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
What about the Porsche flat 6?

Just to clarify then, I meant in its price class. Obviously the GT-R isn't in the same price range as a RX-8.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By phu5ion on 8/26/2009 1:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
Nor is a Porsche. And think about the placement of the engine on a Porsche, low and hanging off the back end of the car. There is a reason why Porsche drivers live (and die) by the mantra; slow in, fast out.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By ul1ul1ul1 on 8/26/2009 9:59:15 AM , Rating: 2
Wankel engine has some serious advantages over piston engines, by design. Mazda believes in this and it is the only major car manufacturer that invests into it and keeps pushing the limit, generation after generation.

That's why I think RX-8 with Renesis is more sweet than any other boring car with same old piston engine that everybody else would've done. Sure it has some drawbacks but who cares, there is no other car that feels the same.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By phu5ion on 8/26/2009 1:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
You have no idea what you are talking about. The oil consumption is by design to lubricate the inner workings of the engine, and only consumes about a quart per 3000 miles (I think it's actually less on the 8, but that's my experience with my RX-7s).

As far as putting another engine in there, there is no way to place a V6 or even an I4 as low and towards the center of the car as a rotary engine. Doing so completely ruins the driving dynamics of the RX-8, which is meant to be a drivers car.

Finally, if you are worried about the mileage go get yourself a Prius, because this is obviously too much car for you.

RE: Fix the RX-8
By Rhl on 8/26/2009 3:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
Please. I've driven the RX-8 and it just isn't that great. I drive an RSX-S and an M3, and even my RSX competes well with the RX-8 at the track. And yet my RSX-S averages over 35 MPG on the commute. Even my M3 (E46 '05) gets better mileage than an RX-8, and it'll blow the tires off any RX-8, and has several times. ;)

I'll just stick to my 'boring' piston-rod engines.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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