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Could Rotary-Engine Powered Mazda RX Return in the Near Future?

Could Rotary-Engine Powered Mazda RX Return in the Near Future?

By Philly Murtha, October 29, 2015

Mazda has a vision that includes bringing back a new generation rotary engine in its renowned RX sports car. This week, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda unveiled a sleek, stylishly elegant, concept RX-VISION front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD) 2-seat sports car, powered by the company’s Skyactiv-R rotary engine.

Currently, production of a commercial model with a rotary engine is on hold, but Mazda continues to make progress in research and development of the next generation rotary engine—named Skyactiv-R, according to Mazda officials. The concept shown in Tokyo is wider and longer than the Jaguar F-Type sports car, according to journalists at the Tokyo show, and also is lower in stance because of the rotary engine’s compact size.

Mazda is the only automaker to mass-produce the rotary engine and improve its power, fuel economy, and durability over decades. In 1991, Mazda achieved a rare victory—one of its RX cars, powered by a rotary engine, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The Mazda RX-7 sports car was produced from 1978 to 2002 and was beloved enough to be featured in a number of franchise films such as The Fast and the Furious series and Gran Turismo. The last RX-8 sports car was produced by Mazda from 2003-2011 and was still powered by a rotary engine.

The rotary engine, which generates power through the spinning of a triangular rotor instead of pistons going up and down, has been around for years. Mazda was one of the first automakers to commercialize the engine in its Cosmo Sport  48 years ago.

Also, Autoweek reports that Mazda president and CEO Masamichi Kogai told the U.K.’s Autocar magazine website: "It is a pure sports-car design. We have MX-5, and another icon is a rotary sports car. We haven't talked about market reach, but this would be in that segment." It’s possible that a production version of the RX could be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017, according to the enthusiast site. There’s speculation that it might return under the RX-7 moniker.

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