A modern-day rotary-engined Mazda sports car is looking more likely than ever

The business case for a rotary engine-powered Mazda RX-9 sports car is stronger than ever thanks to the development of a new rotary engine designed for use in electrified powertrains, according to company bosses.

An RX-9 has long been rumoured, with 2015’s RX-Vision concept thought to mark the Japanese car maker’s intentions to launch a range-topping sports car powered by a rotary engine. No such car has yet appeared, but the revival of Mazda’s rotary engine to aid electrification means the case for an RX-9 becomes much more persuasive.

The new rotary engine will first launch in a range-extender variant of Mazda’s MX-30, recently revealed in pure-electric form. However, the rotary can also be used for plug-in hybrids and hybrids and works with fuels including LPG and hydrogen, meaning it can be employed, over time, by many Mazda vehicles.

Mazda R&D boss Ichiro Hirose said: “The flexible rotary engine is a major solution for electrification technologies. It’s compact and lightweight with outstanding NVH. By using the rotary engine in a variety of ways, we can improve the cost efficiency – that means we can lower the hurdle of putting the rotary engine on a sports car. I really wish that we can justify this car. We have that dream, of course.”

Increasingly strict emissions legislation means that a rotary-engined RX-9 would need some form of electrification, according to brand and design boss Ikuo Maeda. “If we just look at the rotary engine, to meet current environmental requirements, technology-wise, it will be difficult for a rotary to meet these,” he said. “Mazda is looking at combining different technologies in our vehicles. If we can look at some suitable and fitting combination [for a sports car], then that might be a good solution.”

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Talking about the justification for a top-of-the range sports car, Maeda added: “It is hard just to focus on studying high-performance sports cars with a rotary engine, but we wanted to see how we can evolve the technology by going through this type of trial [with the range extender].

“And, of course, we share the same dream that in the future we would like to have an RX-type sports car.”

While the car is not officially confirmed, Mazda recently filed a chassis design patent for a spaceframe-like structure that hosts features most common to a sports car. These include a double-wishbone front suspension and a relatively small engine bay – which would be ideal for a compact rotary motor – as well as lightweight carbonfibre-reinforced plastic and aluminium components applied throughout the structure.

The Japanese brand has a long history of producing rotary-engined cars but hasn’t had one in its line-up since the RX-8 went out of production in 2012.

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Comments
6

25 November 2019

 Yes!, the concept image looks promising, let's hope the power unit is good too!

25 November 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Yes!, the concept image looks promising, let's hope the power unit is good too!

25 November 2019

Peter, Peter, Peter. 

 

What is the point in commenting on one of Autocar's ridiculous in-house 'what we think it might look like' pictures?

 

 

25 November 2019
eseaton wrote:

Peter, Peter, Peter. 

 

What is the point in commenting on one of Autocar's ridiculous in-house 'what we think it might look like' pictures?

 

 

Mazda really need to make this car, because what there selling just now isn't all that interesting, oh sure there's the MX5 but there's nothing else that say....buy me!, hows that......?

25 November 2019

No point having a clever idea and reliable other components in the car whether it be for PHEV, BEV, hydrogen etc and then the old rotary engine still having wear issues etc.

I hope it works out though, I like the way Mazda so things with engineering and design,

MrJ

25 November 2019

Gorgeous rendering, though I would prefer an EV version.

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