Mazda has confirmed it will reveal its next generation of rotary engines later this week via its Chinese branch's Weibo social media account.
Chang'an Mazda posted an image of the brand's first rotary-engined model, the 1967 Cosmo coupé, accompanied by a new logo for the brand's "7th Gen Product Cluster" and the phrase "rotor engines make the world more beautiful".
At the 2017 Tokyo motor show, Mazda boss Mitsuo Hitomi voiced plans for the firm to bring back its famed rotary engine as a range-extender because it is “much, much quieter” than the alternatives.
The Japanese firm’s range hasn’t featured a rotary-engined road car since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012 but it did produce a prototype Mazda 2 featuring the tech back in 2013, which Autocar drove. It has remained interested in reintroducing the technology to production since. Mazda’s RX-Vision Concept, which was shown at the Tokyo motor show in 2015, used such a powertrain.
Hitomui later confirmed that, rather than being used in its purest form, a rotary engine will appear in a range-extender version of its first electric vehicle due in 2019.
When asked if Mazda was developing a standalone rotary engine, he said: “Even if there isn’t a plan to have it in an actual product, of course we are developing a rotary engine alone.” He strongly hinted that a rotary engine-powered model is likely to exist alongside the range-extender in the future.
Asked why Mazda will use a rotary engine as a range-extender, Hitomi said: “the rotary engine isn’t particularly efficient to use as a range-extender but when we turn on a rotary, it is much, much quieter compared to other manufacturers’ range-extenders”, which is seemingly suited to the near silence of electric cars.
Mazda's recent engine focus has been on the development of compression ignition Skyactiv-X petrol engines, which now feature in the new 3 hatchback and CX-30 crossover.
For the original Cosmo, the company developed a Wankel rotary engine with the help of a German firm called NSU. Rotary engines, which use rotors instead of pistons, are generally smaller and lighter than traditional petrol engines, without any loss of power.
Since the RX-8 ended production, the firm’s only machines to feature a rotary engine have been the race cars in the American Pro Mazda junior single-seater series.
Recently, a patent filed by Mazda looked to preview a lightweight, front-mid-engined sports car with an engine bay just big enough for a compact rotary unit.