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Motor Show: Mazda5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid

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The powertrain in this Mazda5 compact MPV combines a hybrid hydrogen/petrol version of Mazda's rotary engine with an electric motor. The petrol-powered engine is transversely mounted at the front in a front-wheel drive layout, its battery pack positioned under the central row of seats and the hydrogen tank behind the third row.

This powertrain is similar to that in the RX-8 hydrogen-powered sports car shown in Tokyo in 2003; this has now been developed further to produce up to 210bhp when running on petrol, though it can only develop 109bhp from hydrogen. Mazda is considering, however, leasing out prototypes to selected fleets for testing.

Mazda also revealed some new technology in Tokyo, including a stop-start system that cuts the engine when idling then automatically restarts. This takes existing stop-start systems a stage further by having greater control over piston position for more precise restarting and its integrated starter-generator means that an electric starter motor is no longer necessary.

Mazda also showcased a new integrated dynamic control system, combining monitoring of throttle, steering and brake inputs, adaptive front headlights with cornering beams, a blind spot warning system and direct-injection petrol systems.

However, most exciting of all, in a presentation by executives, it showed a picture of a concept car it will unveil at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2006. This was a two-seater, rotary-engined coupe - a cross between an RX-8 and an MX-5, designed at Mazda's studios in Irvine, California - and rumours suggest that it is scheduled for production in 2008.
 
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