Mazda has given one hell of a strong hint that it will begin talking in earnest about its long-speculated reborn rotary sports car at the Tokyo motor show next month.
The mooted launch of a reborn Mazda RX sports car (some say to be called the RX-9) with a modernised rotary engine has long been a talking point surrounding the Japanese company.
While we cannot confirm anything beyond a doubt, Mazda’s global marketing boss Masahiro Moro today gave what has to constitute a very strong ‘steer’ that the inevitably drawn-out launch process of the new RX rotary would begin in Tokyo this October.
This could potentially manifest in the unveiling on some sort of rotary concept car, or just a discussion of where the technology sat in a more modern context.
When asked at the Frankfurt motor show today when and if the rotary RX might return to the fold, as a high-performance brother to the MX-5, Moro-san said at first a simple: “Stay tuned”.
But then, he asked quizzically: “Are you coming to Tokyo motor show?” When the collective Australian media asked him if that meant what we though it did, he played it with a straight bat, but smiled slightly and joked about offering us some nice sushi and tempura.
“Rotary is always sticking with our heart,” he said. “So, are you coming to Tokyo motor show?”
Hints rarely get more clear. Furthermore, a return to a RX with a rotary calibrated to suit the modern climate with its strict emissions laws makes what appears to be commercial sense.
For one, now that Mazda’s bread-and-butter core models are all using its shared architecture and up to date (save just the CX-9, which enters its all-new generation next month, completing the line-up), Mazda has the scope to look to the excitement that sits at its fringes.
These options vary from the ‘CX-4′ crossover SUV previewed by the Koeru today, to a top-end RX performance car.
Of course, we’d be remiss to admit that we know exactly what to expect from this speculated new rotary concept. The production version, should there be one, might just premiere at the 2017 Tokyo show — the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo Sports.
We’ve also had hints previously that 2020 might be the year — the year that marks Mazda’s centenary.
Mazda has repeatedly said it was tinkering with Wankel rotary technology behind closed doors, given it considers the largely dormant technology fundamental to its DNA. Remember this Mazda 2 rotary range-extender prototype?
Mazda five years ago spoke about a direct-injected petrol rotary engine with aluminium side housings, a 1600cc capacity instead of 1304cc of the 13B RX-7 and RX-8 engine, producing about 225kW.
The new engine could use fuel-saving features from Mazda’s SkyActiv technology framework (such as i-ELOOP regenerative braking) or potentially even leverage Mazda’s joint-venture with Toyota somehow.
The most famous rotary Mazda is the RX-7 that premiered in 1978, succeeded in 2002 by the RX-8, axed in 2012 as Mazda focused inward to rebuild its core and return to profitability — something it has now well-and-truly achieved.
So, is this all a sign that it’s a big rotary party for the company next month? We’ll be there to see — hopefully our name is on the list at the door.