The trophies – Mazda’s first ever triumphs in the International Engine of the Year Awards, which were launched in 1999 by Engine Technology International magazine – were awarded by 50 of the world’s leading motoring journalists from 22 countries, such as the USA, Germany, South Africa, France, Argentina, Canada and Australia. Media represented include globally recognised brands such as the USA’s Car and Driver and Playboy magazines, and the NBC TV channel, as well as the UK’s CAR magazine. Judges praised Mazda for, "its sheer bravery in pursuing the Wankel format and making it work", calling the RX-8’s RENESIS Rotary, "smooth and strong, clean and compact". The engine already meets the forthcoming 2005 EURO IV emissions requirements, yet delivers up to 240bhp.
But Mazda wasn’t the only Japanese winner: Honda’s efforts clearly impress, the world’s most prolific engine builder winning four of the 12 categories, three of them with its emerging hybrid technology.
It’s been a good year for the German car makers too. BMW added a further three International Engine of the Year Awards trophies to its display cabinet, topping the 1.4-litre to 1.8-litre, 2-litre to 2.5-litre, and 3-litre to 4-litre classes, while Volkswagen’s monster 5-litre V10 diesel engine took the Above 4-litre Award, winning several votes from the typically anti-diesel North Americans. German honour was further upheld by Mercedes: the brand, which has always been forced to watch arch-rival BMW take the glory, finally tasted success – its AMG 55 unit has been hailed as the Best Performance Engine.
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