Mazda is a company built on the MX-5 and the Wankel rotary engine. So while the first of these continues to be a success, speculation about the possibility of a new rotary model has been running rampant since even before the 2010 Mazda RX-8 was killed off in 2012. It in that same year that Mazda announed that the then-upcoming 2014 Mazda6 platform would underpin three different body styles: a sedan, a wagon and one that wasn’t specified. And now new information from suggests that this third car will be a coupe with rear-wheel drive and a rotary engine.
While this is entirely plausible, there are a couple of problems. The first of these is that none of this is in any way official, and Mazda’s official position is that rotary engines are on hold at the moment. The other is just simply that the rumors and speculation surrounding an RX-7 successor have become so convoluted that we’re half expecting Oliver Stone to make a movie about it. There is even a rival rumor based on a statement made by Mazda that the MX-5 platform is scalable, and therefore could be used to make an RX-9.
Why it matters
It’s impossible to know what to believe in this story, but there are some interesting and plausible-sounding rumors out there. One of the better ones is that there will be a new RX-9 concept in 2017, ahead of a production model for the 2020 model year. This works well in a couple of ways. For one, 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the first production rotary-powered Mazda, the 1967-1972 Mazda Cosmo Sport, but it is also the year that we know Mazda will be unveiling a whole line of second-generation SKYACTIV engines, and this would be the perfect time to announce a new rotary that incorporates this technology.
What’s troubling about the Mazda6-based coupe rumor is that it sounds like a recipe for a grand tourer, not an outright sports car. Mazda has built such a car in the past, and the 1990-1996 Cosmo was a technological powerhouse, the first twin-turbo rotary production car and the only Mazda to ever use a three-rotor engine. A new Cosmo sounds great, but it’s not an RX-7 successor. Of course, Mazda could still potentially make it work, and the company’s technological partnership with Toyota might mean some hybrid bits might even find their way into the car, which is an interesting prospect. We’ll obviously have to wait to see answers to any of this, but speculation is fun.
Mazda RX-9 Coupe