Do MX-5 Miatas Have Rotary Engines? Explained

When it comes to the world of sports cars, few models have achieved the iconic status of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Known for its sleek design and nimble handling, this beloved roadster has captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. However, there has long been a debate surrounding one particular aspect of this vehicle: Do MX-5 Miatas Have Rotary Engines? Mazda has a long history of producing reliable and cost-effective vehicles for drivers around the world.

In 1967, the company introduced the rotary engine, which was originally designed by German motor engineer Felix Wankel in collaboration with NSU Motorenwerke. The rotary engine design was licensed to companies like Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Mazda. Mazda incorporated its rotary engine into a number of its production vehicles, including the iconic RX-7. However, there has been some debate over whether the Mazda MX-5 Miata ever featured a rotary engine. Let’s explore this topic further to uncover the truth behind the MX-5 Miata’s powerplant.

Do Miatas have rotary engines?

In straightforward terms, the MX-5 Miata has always steered clear of utilizing a rotary engine. Mazda’s now-defunct RX series, on the other hand, held the distinction of being highly sought-after vehicles that embraced the ground-breaking rotary engine design.

It’s worth noting that you won’t find an MX-5 Miata with a rotary engine on a dealership lot. The roadster has always relied on an inline, piston-driven 4-cylinder engine, with displacement ranging from 1.5 L to 2.0 L. However, there is a Mazda-made experimental MX-5 Miata with a 1.3 L hydrogen-powered rotary engine floating around somewhere.

Popular Science magazine did a review of the car in 1993, noting that it was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the infrastructure for hydrogen-powered vehicles wasn’t in place yet for the car to enter the mainstream.

As of now, there hasn’t been any word from Mazda on whether the MX-5 Miata will ever sport a rotary engine. While there have been impressive homemade rotary swap conversions, they’re not a viable option for most. However, with Mazda looking to electrify its fleet, we could see the rotary design making a comeback as a range-extender for future models of the MX-5.

What engines do MX-5 Miatas use?

Mazda always uses a piston engine for MX-5 Miata. The latest model has a 2.0 L Skyactiv-G engine. There was an experimental hydrogen-powered rotary engine but it didn’t make it to the market. Mazda hasn’t said whether they will use a rotary engine again, but it might be used as a range-extender for future models. Homemade rotary swaps exist but aren’t practical for most people.

The MX-5 Miata has always been equipped with a straight-four engine, which Mazda has perfected over many years. This engine is known for its reliability and cost-effectiveness, making it a great option for MX-5 owners. The engine follows a twin-cam design, allowing for efficient combustion and increased airflow. With proper care, this engine can last for over 200,000 miles. However, rust can be an issue for the MX-5 Miata.

The MX-5 Miata has gone through various generations and engine updates, each offering an exhilarating driving experience. The first-generation NA model, produced from 1989 to 1997, featured a 1.6-liter inline-four engine that generated around 116 horsepower. This lightweight powertrain not only allowed the Miata to accelerate quickly but also gave it a nimble and responsive feel on the road.

In the second generation NB (1998-2005), Mazda introduced a more powerful 1.8-liter engine that offered improved performance with its 140 horsepower output. This upgrade provided a noticeable boost in acceleration and ensured the Miata maintained its reputation as a thrilling sports car.

Moving on to the third generation NC (2006-2015), Mazda upped the ante once again by introducing two different engine options. The base model featured a 2.0-liter inline-four generating approximately 170 horsepower, while the higher-performance version came equipped with a larger displacement 2.5-liter engine producing around 167 horsepower.

With every new generation of MX-5 Miatas, Mazda continuously sought to enhance performance while maintaining the essence of what makes this roadster so loved by enthusiasts worldwide.

Which Mazda cars have a rotary engine?

Mazda has a rich history of producing rotary-powered vehicles, including the iconic RX-7 and RX-3. Other models that featured rotary engines include the R100, Luce R130, and Cosmo. It’s worth noting that the RX-8 was Mazda’s last road-legal car to feature a rotary engine, and production of this model ended in 2012.

One of the most unique features of Mazda cars has been their rotary engines. Introduced in 1967 with the Mazda Cosmo Sport, the rotary engine quickly gained popularity for its compact size, high power output, and smooth operation. Over the years, several Mazda models have featured this distinctive engine.

The most famous Mazda car with a rotary engine is undoubtedly the RX-7. Produced from 1978 to 2002, the RX-7 became an icon in sports car history thanks to its lightweight body, superb handling, and impressive power delivered by its rotary engine. Another notable model was the RX-8 introduced in 2003. With its practical four-door layout and iconic suicide doors, it provided a blend of performance and usability that was unrivaled at that time.

But the fuel efficiency has always been a concern for Mazda when it comes to their rotary engine. The RX-8, in particular, was known for its thirstiness with the least powerful model only achieving around 26.7 miles per gallon. However, it’s worth noting that different engine designs do have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Mazda’s rotary engines have a reputation for needing frequent repairs. The apex seals responsible for maintaining compression in the chamber tend to last only around 80,000 miles. When they fail, it’s a job for a rotary specialist who can rebuild the engine. Nevertheless, Mazda still holds onto the 13B rotary engine design, which has many advantages. It’s small, powerful, and runs more smoothly than conventional piston-driven engines.

Mazda is constantly working to improve the fuel efficiency and reliability of the rotary engine, and I’m hopeful we’ll see it in a production vehicle soon!

Even though Mazda ceased production of rotary-powered cars in 2012 due to emission regulations and other technical challenges, rumors have been circulating about a return of this iconic engine technology in future models like an electrified sports car or hybrid vehicle. Whatever form it takes next, there is no denying that Mazda’s innovative use of rotary engines has left an indelible mark on automotive history.

Final thoughts – Do MX-5 Miatas Have Rotary Engines? Explained

MX-5 Miatas do not have rotary engines. Despite the iconic association between Mazda and rotary engines, the MX-5 Miata has always been powered by traditional piston engines. While rotary engines are known for their unique characteristics and high-revving performance, the MX-5’s lightweight design and responsive handling have made it one of the most beloved sports cars on the market. So, if you’re in the market for an MX-5 Miata, rest assured that you’ll be experiencing the power and thrill of a piston engine. Get behind the wheel of an MX-5 Miata today and experience the joy of driving a timeless sports car. Read Are Audi’s They Good Cars?

Hey there, Ryan here, the guy behind Casual Car Info. I have to admit, I wasn't always a car enthusiast. Cars never really caught my attention initially. It's only been in the last four years that I've developed a genuine interest in the automotive industry. My journey began when I bought a used Vauxhall Astra, which turned out to be plagued with issues. Determined to understand what was wrong with the car, I immersed myself in all kinds of car-related content.

2 thoughts on “Do MX-5 Miatas Have Rotary Engines? Explained”

Leave a Comment