According to the latest international reports, Mazda's upcoming rotary sports car could feature laser ignition technology. This would replace the spark plug ignition system which is currently applied to every petrol car on the market. It's also a setup which has been around since 1860.
The suggestion that the laser ignition system could make an appearance in the new rotary comes after a comment made by a senior engineer at Mazda. He said the upcoming rotary sports car would use a "special kind of ignition system". This special ignition is expected to be applied to Mazda's latest rotary engine development, an engine dubbed the 16X Renesis.
Using laser ignition could allow the new rotary to pass the latest and upcoming emissions regulations, such as the Euro 5 and Euro 6, both of which the current Mazda RX-8 is unable to pass. Reports say the technology could provide a more complete and more controlled method of ignition for each combustion chamber, and help the new rotary run leaner and thus more efficiently.
The laser setup is likely to require a smaller hole tapped into the combustion chamber of the engine too, compared with the conventional spark plug design. This would lend itself well to Mazda's aim of creating a more compact and lighter engine. The engine also promises to offer more torque than the current 13B 1.3-litre rotary, thanks, in part, to the larger 1.6-litre capacity.
Mazda hasn't officially announced what the new model will be called, or if it will definitely see the light of day. Even so, reports suggest it will be named the Mazda RX-9.
It is all a bit hazy at this stage, we'll keep you updated as more details are uncovered. In the meantime, tell us what you think, should the rotary engine live on? Or should Mazda develop a more efficient and economical method of propelling the sports car? Electricity perhaps?