Mazda Board Says Yes to New Rotary Sports Car?

Mazda RX-9 render

The folks who make the decisions at Mazda’s mothership in Japan have apparently green-lighted the next generation of rotary sports car, to be dubbed RX-9.

The news comes from Japan’s Holiday Auto magazine, whose report says the car was inspired by the RX-Vision concept unveiled at last year’s Tokyo motor show. The magazine’s renderings show a car with tighter proportions that looks only remotely like the concept.

What the magazine doesn’t cite are any credible sources, so take everything you read here with a grain of salt. We might see a prototype at the 2017 Tokyo show, a venue chosen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine, with a production model to be revealed in 2019 in time for a 2020 launch that would honour the Mazda brand’s centenary. That would also coincide with Tokyo’s hosting of the next Summer Olympic games.

The Skyactiv-R engine is rumoured to displace about 1.6L from twin 800-cc rotors and would generate something like 400 horsepower with the help of turbocharging. A target curb weight of “less than 1,300 kg” promises notable performance.

Other possibilities include the use of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), which would eliminate spark plugs and make the engine closer in concept to a diesel; this is believable enough given Mazda is already working on using that technology as one of its next steps toward further improving fuel economy. Mazda’s main challenge will be engineering a rotary that complies with ever-tightening emissions requirements — one of the reasons the rotary-powered RX-8 disappeared after 2011.

As with all recent Mazda rotary rumours, we’ll believe this one when we see it.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.
  • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

    As a Past RX7 Turbo Owner, I can say that the Wankel’s love Turbos, but keeping that heat under control is important! I would love to see it combined with about 60-100 Hp in Electric, similar to the Honda IMA approach, if not clutched in separately for all EV Stealth Driving Mode, and combined for Max Performance deliverable! Knock off 50-60 miles in EV Mode, along with a 400 mile range on fuel, and you would have one sweet performance touring ride! The Combination could help them get the Fuel Efficiency improvements they might want, although my old RX7 could deliver 30 Mpg well enough!

  • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

    Actually – I should say – “with about 60-100 Hp in Electric”

  • Frank Luzzi

    It is doubtful, even if the car gets the green light, that anything other than an automatic will be offered. My son worked for Mazda until recently and they stated that they would stop offering manual transmissions after 2016/2017 even in the Miata.
    That being said, your idea sounds great. Some hybrid addition could make the car more fun to drive, and would likely allow it to avoid too much bad press for building another Wankel with its higher emissions/lower efficiency.

  • drbob1

    I’ve had Mazdas for 3 decades, and watched reliability take a nosedive, e.g. rust in 2006 was terminal for sales. Gas mileage with Sky-Active led for a while, but, really, electricity is the future. The sweet rotary in our Rx7 was a gas-gobbler, anti-freeze-drinker, and oil-burner. Why pour millions into remaking a decades old engine new when batteries a la Tesla, Porsche, and F1 are here now and smooth as silk?

  • Kevin Hall

    1) initial cost

  • drbob1

    Bolt has a range of about 230 mi., I believe, Tesla over 100 in latest iteration. Initial cost is high, but in US and ON, Canada, about $10,000 is available in gov. rebates. Electricity equivalent cost in review articles show a large “fueling” cost savings over pump cost and a huge saving as gas prices rise. I never said electricity is “a free resource”.. But it is usually cheap to fuel, drive, and maintain a car with than with petrol. No oil changes, no filters, etc., either. And instant full-torque is fun: Bolt does 0-60 mph in 6.2 secs. and averages c. 100 mpg equiv. cost. Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Honda, Tesla, and others sell fast, smooth, reliable expensive elec. cars. But Mazda redoes an oil-burning, low gas mileage engine? Why? They lag in elec. tech. and can’t catch up son enough, I suspect, and their Wankel is smooth and tiny. Our RX-7 was pleasant but drank gas, a bit of oil, and some anti-freeze. All Mazda RX’s did.

  • hemusbull

    The reality is that an electric car according to government sources, needs electricity for charge which costs about 900$ a year if you do it at home. Charging on public is more expensive! For reference, a Civic with same 20k a year uses fuel for about 1500$ and car itself is ten of thousands cheaper. No one can compensate this difference even for 10 years ownership, which is more then the initial life of batteries….No economic point for now to replace modern gas engined car with EV if someone is into the budget category. For people with more then average disposable money the story is different…

  • drbob1

    The ecstatically reviewed 2017 US$30,000 Chevy Bolt, planned from the start to save weight and space, is a glimpse at what comes next, so are the new hot Acura NSX and the racing cars with electrical boosts. The range is now somewhere around 200 miles/charge. The cost of charging is figured to drop by 30% with new Lithium batteries. Tesla and others are moving toward a common charging station. Now, on the other side, gas is cheaper than it’s been for a decade. And government tax-rebates are drying up. Alberta has $0. So the market is changing very slowly. Yes it is. But now eco cars Fit and Smart (not so!) have electric models, and IonIQ by Hyundai has 3 versions. Mazda lags, and I hope the RX-9 is at least a rotary Acura-like hybrid. Air pollution at trackside is no joking matter, weather change is not, and battery advances are coming, as are instant torque and clean air. The new Road and Track edition features the NSX and speaks of the end of the carbon-fuelled hot car. Think 15 more years for energy-switching. Think smart cell-phones and cheap old wired phones. My LG costs per call less than my old phone ever did. I’ll miss Ferrari exhaust noises, but then I miss horse-drawn carriages. No more oil changes, no filters, no noise, fast and cheap charging, no toxic streets, distant electrical generation from solar, hydro, geothermal, wind. Hybrid’s descendants will be 100% battery or solar cell.