Mazda’s rotary engine program on death row

August 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mazda has keenly championed the rotary engine since it was originally used in the 1967 Mazda Cosmo but now the future of this iconic motor is uncertain.

The Wankel rotary has powered numerous Mazdas over the years, including the RX-2, RX-3, RX-7 and finally the RX-8. Mazda even sold a rotary-powered ute between 1974 and 1977. But in 2011 the automotive landscape is much different and Mazda big wigs are currently in discussions about where to go next with the unique powerplant.

While the engine hasn’t been officially axed altogether, current economic conditions have forced Mazda to re-evaluate several programs and the rotary engine is one of the things that could be dropped. For now, the company has halted development of the engine and will focus on new SKYACTIV technologies.

Mazda still believes in the advantages of rotary power including its light weight and fewer moving parts but its weaknesses are more apparent than ever. The rotary engine doesn’t burn as clean as a piston engine, it consumes more oil and is very thirsty for petrol. In these times of emission regulations and minimal fuel usage – the rotary just doesn’t fit in. Continue reading “Mazda’s rotary engine program on death row” »

Lexus to produce striking LFA Roadster

August 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Lexus LFA coupe has established itself as one of the most coveted super cars in the world and with a production run of just 500 models this beast from the east is certainly exclusive. But when production of the LFA coupe finishes in 2013 an even rarer variant looks like it will built – the LFA Roadster.

According to recent reports in mid-2014 the LFA roadster is scheduled to debut with a price tag only the mega rich can afford. This is the first new news on the roadster since it was teased in a stunning concept version (pictured) back in 2008. Strangely, there is expected to be a one year gap between the end of LFA coupe production and the beginning of LFA roadster production.

The roadster will headline a whole gang of new or updated models Lexus plans to unleash in the coming years to help it fight key players like BMW and Mercedes-Benz in global markets. Continue reading “Lexus to produce striking LFA Roadster” »

Ferrari details 458 Italia hand-built engine assembly (+video)

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The meaning of ‘hand built’ may seem obvious but what does the process really involve? Ferrari has decided to show the world how it builds an engine by hand with a video detailing the process of assembly for the 458 Italia’s 4.5-litre V8 engine.

The 458 Italia motor is produced at home in the company’s Maranello, Italy factory and the thorough nature of the staff is amazing. Wearing surgical gloves it is an exact process for the hands and also the high-tech machinery involved.

The 458 Italia engine produces 419kW of power and 540Nm of torque, it comes mated to a dual-clutch, seven-speed gearbox.

The video is in Italian with English subtitles, it’s an interesting watch, check it out below. Continue reading “Ferrari details 458 Italia hand-built engine assembly (+video)” »

Mercedes-Benz reveals variable-displacement V8 engine

July 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With many auto makers dropping cylinders off their larger engines Mercedes-Benz was rumoured to be developing a hardcore turbocharged V6. But those rumours have now proved false with news that Mercedes is set to continue with a naturally aspirated V8 engine in the next generation of the SLK AMG.

Details have been released before the new sportscar debuts at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. The latest AMG powerplant, labeled M152, is based closely on the M157 engine that already sees use in the new CL63 AMG and its four-door brother – the S63 AMG. But the M152 is different in a few key areas, first of all, is the removal of the twin turbochargers. It also uses a new air intake, cylinder heads, valve drive, oil system, crankcase and, most importantly, a Formula One-derived cylinder deactivation system. This new system allows it to cut back to just four cylinders when required and with only four pistons firing, fuel economy is markedly improved. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz reveals variable-displacement V8 engine” »

Next-gen BMW M3 may receive triple turbo power

July 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s M3 is always going to be an uncompromising sports machine, that’s something which will never change, but exactly how it achieves its performance has changed over the years. What started out with an inline-four was up-sized into a straight-six for two generations before a V8 was stuffed into the current model. It’s no surprise that there is much speculation about the next-generation M3 with it expected to return to a straight-six format but that won’t mean a decrease in power.

If recent rumours are to be believed, the upcoming M3 will come packing a triple-turbo straight-six powerplant. The rare arrangement may include two traditional turbochargers powered off exhaust gases but also a third electric turbocharger. Total power output would increase to around 335kW compared to the current V8 model’s 308kW. There will also be more carbon fibre used to keep weight down, much like the M3 CRT (pictured). Continue reading “Next-gen BMW M3 may receive triple turbo power” »

Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mazda Demio is big in Japan, and while we know it as the Mazda2 it does alright here in NZ as well. To keep things going strong the 2 has just received a minor facelift and one of Mazda’s new eco-friendly motors – a direct injection 1.3-litre SkyActiv gasoline engine.

While the updates are only for the Japanese domestic market at this stage, they show some serious intent from Mazda to lower its fuel figures. With a compression ratio of 14.0:1 and an advanced start/stop system that requires less fuel to re-initiate the combustion cycle, the 1300cc four-cylinder is set to be one of the most frugal mills around. Apparently the SkyActiv equipped Mazda2 can achieve fuel consumption as low as 4.0l/100km on the JC08 combined evaluation cycle. Continue reading “Mazda2 gets mild facelift and new SkyActiv engine” »

Ford to produce smallest ever engine – 1.0-litre three cylinder

June 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford wasn’t the quickest carmaker at seeing the benefits of turbocharging in developing smaller, more fuel efficient engines. But once it did, Ford is now full steam ahead with a wide range of force-fed petrol powerplants. But the American carmaker isn’t stopping there, now it’s developing its smallest production engine ever and its first three-cylinder offering.

Designed by the engineering team at Ford UK’s Dunton Technical Centre, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will apparently deliver similar performance to a larger four-cylinder unit but with much higher fuel economy. The new engine will use all the EcoBoost technologies found in other motors, such as turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT).

No specific output figures have been released yet, but according to Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, said the new three-cylinder unit “will deliver horsepower and torque outputs equivalent to or better than most normally aspirated 1.6-liter gasoline engines”.

Once completed the super small engine will find applications in a variety of Ford’s products and will be sold in many markets. The new Ford Ka and Fiesta will be among the first models to use the new engine. Continue reading “Ford to produce smallest ever engine – 1.0-litre three cylinder” »

Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award

May 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

With a displacement of just 875cc Fiat’s twin-cylinder gasoline ‘TwinAir’ motor seemed an unlikely choice for the International Engine of the Year Award but the little engine that could has taken the top honours. The much coveted award is decided by a jury of 76 journalists and industry experts from 36 different countries and Fiat’s mini mill was highly praised. The Jury were sold on the TwinAir’s low emissions, high fuel economy and strong power output for its size. The TwinAir scooped four awards in total that included “Best New Engine 2011”, “Best Green Engine 2011”, “Best Sub 1-Litre Engine” and the “International Engine of the Year 2011” grand award.

Fiat’s two-cylinder champion uses turbocharging to develop 63kW of power and currently sees service in the Fiat 500 and 500C, with further applications planned. Fiat will also introduce two other versions of the motor, a naturally aspirated variant producing 48kW and a higher-performance turbocharged variant with 78kW.

This year’s awards event was held yesterday (May 18th) at the Engine Expo in Stuttgart, Germany. Other big winners included BMW with the carmaker taking out four awards. The honours included winning the “3-litre to 4-litre” category with the 4.0-litre V8 unit used in the M3, the “2.5-litre to 3-litre” division for its 3.0-litre DI Twin Turbo mill, the “1.8-litre to 2-litre” category for the 2.0-litre Twin Turbo diesel engine found in the 123d and X1, and lastly the “1.4-litre to 1.8-litre” category for the popular 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine co-developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen, powering the Mini. Continue reading “Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre motor wins ‘International Engine of the Year’ Award” »

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