It’s no secret that rotary engines are a wee bit special. Endowed with the ability to rev to the moon and back and producing stratospherically high horsepower figures for their displacement, they’ve become something of an icon for Mazda, who brought the rotary to the masses in their RX-7 sports cars and RX-8 2+2’s.
However, it’s equally well known that rotary engines can be among the most fickle powerplants in the world. Squeezing so much power into such a small package, they consume oil under the best of circumstances, and numerous other parts under the worst. So, in an effort to modernize the surprisingly old design, Mazda will apparently be replacing the engine’s spark plugs with lasers. Yes, that’s right. Lasers.
The change should allow for better, more reliable ignition and will definitely allow engineers to better control the combustion process within the chamber, hopefully resulting in better fuel economy and superior torque output; both of which have proven to be weak points in the rotary’s design.