Reunited with a Quaint, Wankel-Powered Friend | Honk
I had never driven anything powered by a Wankel, and the contrast of the RX-7 compared to everything with wheels I had experienced was stark, and noticeable immediately. The feedback normally received from a piston engine is not felt, due to the fact that there is no more conversion from vertical to rotational motion, a rotary engine (as implied by the name) involves no vertical momentum. It's not that the engine refuses to communicate with you, it's just speaking an entirely different language. The whiny exhaust note has an odd property to it that can be heard from no other source. It conjures up images of the mysterious, angry pair of triangles whirling about in their cage. Purely imaginary, of course.
Because the Wankel is so smooth, I found myself wondering why I should shift up. A piston engine makes you anxious when you push it close to the redline. Most send the driver a variety of auditory and tactile messages indicating that they must either shift up, or face a molten tie rod to the head. The RX-7, however, gives no such indication. When close to the redline, one hears only an excited whir. The result (forgive the upcoming Disney analogy) is an almost magic carpet-like experience. It's as though the power simply materializes before you with no apparent source or sacrifice.
What a good read! I found myself hopping over to Autotrader looking for used RX-8s around my area after reading this piece. Then, reality set in and I realized that I am in no position to be owning a second car. I say second car because I'm not sure I would replace my Mazdaspeed3 with an RX-8. Hard to give up the hatch, the passing power and better gas mileage from the Speed3.