Anime, sultry and supercars: What people are saying about the Mazda RX-Vision

Mazda’s RX-Vision concept was a hit at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. While it hinted at the triumphant return of Mazda’s iconic rotary engine, the RX-Vision also drew plaudits for its sleek styling. Here’s what some critics and others are saying about the concept.

“If you’re Mazda and you want to startle the Tokyo Motor Show, there’s no better way than to unveil a concept car powered by a rotary engine. …

“Instead of pistons that go up and down, the rotary engine produces combustion as it spins. The idea is that it’s an engine that can be more powerful and smooth. It was a critical part of Mazda’s early history, including its launch in the U.S. The rotary, however, has been hard to make fuel efficient and has been off the market for years in the U.S.”

— USA Today

“After years of bad magazine rumors, false starts, hand-wringing and broken dreams, Mazda is finally — finally — back with a concept they say has an all-new rotary engine. Meet the Mazda RX-Vision Concept.

“What do we know about this Tokyo Motor Show concept, besides the fact that it’s an extremely good-looking coupe? Not much, unfortunately. Mazda is mum on any specs, as well as what might lie under that hood, although they are calling it the SkyActiv-R rotary. No word on displacement, turbocharging, technical details, anything like that.

“And that’s a bit of a bummer, but I have to say the design is not. It’s a long, sexy, sleek sports car, one with very similar proportions (and taillights) to the last RX-7. Inside it’s very much a concept, but a clean one. …

“If this is a sign of what’s to come, sign me up, Mazda.”

— Jalopnik

“In a moment of impressive product planning symmetry, it’s been 12 years since the RX-8 arrived, the exact same gap between the third-generation RX-7 and the RX-8. Clearly the time is ripe for Mazda’s next halo model. It also attached this slogan to the teaser video: ‘This model represents our dream. But we don’t want it to stay a dream forever.’ Sounds pretty unequivocal to us.”

— Top Gear

“Undeniably alluring, the RX-Vision ultimately exists as a host body for the next-generation, Skyactiv-R rotary engine that resides underneath its long, low hood. For its part, Mazda is quick to point out that without the compact dimensions of the Skyactiv-R engine, the RX-Vision’s sultry hoodline likely would be impossible to implement. Although the maker pulled the plug on its last rotary-powered production car, the RX-8, in 2012, research and development of the rotary is said to have continued unabated. (This despite reports to the contrary.) Reviving the rotary for public consumption, however, is predicated on triumphing over all three of the rotary’s demons — namely poor efficiency, poor emissions, and poor reliability. Here’s hoping Mazda’s engineers are in it for the long haul.”

— Car and Driver

“The design of the concept looks more like a grand tourer than a pure sports car, but there are some definite RX-7 and RX-8 cues in the design. The tail lights are pure FD RX-7, while the front end has a bit of RX-8 to it. The design is flowing and really pretty damn excellent, like a Jaguar F-Type or an AMG GT S that was breathed on by anime.”

— Travis Okulski, Road & Track

“As for production plans, it looks likely that a new RX-7 could be on public roads in as little as two year’s time. Our guess is that Mazda will stick with a twin-rotor and dual turbocharger engine configuration, like the format used on the last-gen RX-7. Though nothing is set in stone, and Mazda could opt to forego turbocharging entirely. We sure hope not.”

— New York Daily News

“A rotary? Really? Look, I have little doubt that given enough time and money (emphasis on money), Mazda’s engineers could reinvent the Wankel to the point where it doesn’t spew noxious pollutants and allows a 3,000-pound car to get more than 13 miles per gallon. But time isn’t on Mazda’s side, as 2018 is looming. Getting a car to market in essentially two years’ time complete with an engine that doesn’t exist yet seems, to put it kindly, challenging. Putting it unkindly would be to say impossible. Also, and please don’t take this the wrong way, Mazda pals, but last time I checked, money wasn’t on your side, either.”

— Motor Trend

“Building on the company’s sensuous Kodo design language, the Mazda RX-Vision concept is a dramatically low-slung, long-hood design. Its bubble-like cabin is positioned far behind the car’s midpoint, creating a similar silhouette to cars like the Mercedes-AMG GT. The sparse cabin places a three-spoke steering wheel and a giant tachometer — with 8,000-rpm redline — directly in front of the driver, while the ultra-simple dashboard lacks even an infotainment system screen.”

— Automobile

“The RX-Vision, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive roadster. Stylistically, with its low lines, long hood and short tail section, it owes something to Ferrari and something to Corvette. …

“But the RX-Vision could be the prescription for a big brother to the recently refreshed Mazda Miata, a small-scale MX-5 roadster that has charmed the auto press with a return to its simple sports car roots.”

— Los Angeles Times

“Sports cars — especially inexpensive sports cars — don’t really sell very well. The Scion FR-S, for example, has been a sales flop. Heck, even the Porsche Cayman doesn’t sell very well. So for Mazda to say it’s keen to build another rotary sports car is a double-whammy of questionable marketing.

“That said, if the RX-Vision were to, say, be hybridized and made to compete with the likes of the Acura NSX and other ‘entry-level’ supercars, it could have a bolstering effect to the brand image. While cheaper sports cars suffer, halo sports cars is a rising tide that lifts all ships.

“Think of the 2008 Audi R8 supercar that helped turn Audi from a mid-level player into a runner-up for the top luxury sales spot on the planet. If done right, the RX-Vision could serve Mazda similarly to embolden the already more luxurious image it is shaping for itself.”

— Mashable

“The new powertrain is mounted in the RX-Vision, which is a front-engine rear-drive (FR) two-seat sports car with sweeping body forms employing Mazda’s Kodo design language. The grille opening is similar to that found on all Mazdas from the MX-5 Miata up through the Mazda6. The car has short overhangs and a low and wide body that is made possible by the compact dimensions of the rotary engine.”

— Kelly Blue Book

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