Late last year, Mazda pulled the covers off one of its most striking concept cars to date—the Mazda RX-Vision concept—a two-door, two-seat, rotary-powered coupe, which was seen by many in the industry as a thinly veiled precursor to a next-generation Mazda RX-7 or RX-8 sports car.
There’s just one problem: due to tightening emissions and fuel efficiency regulations, creating a viable Wankel rotary engine for such a car has proven incredibly difficult; in fact, it’s the reason one hasn’t surfaced since the RX-8’s untimely departure in 2012.
Nevertheless, Mazda has remained steadfast in its desire to bring the rotary-powered sports car back to the market, a notion recently reiterated by the company’s European design director, Kevin Rice.
At last weekend’s Villa d’Este concours d’elegance, Rice told Top Gear, “we’d love to build it,” and later noted of the rotary engine, “in the back rooms at Mazda, we’re still developing it, and when the world’s ready to buy another rotary, we’ll be ready to provide it.”
So there you go people of the world, start pleading. We’re ready.
Regarding the concept car’s long, sultry hood, Rice notes the RX-Vision was always intended to house a rotary engine beneath it, saying, “nobody else would have developed the rotary engine. We thought we could get something good out of it, which we did, but we never stopped developing it. We didn’t just leave it with the RX-8.”
This jibes well with recent Mazda patent filings which show Mazda’s in-development “Skyactiv-R” rotary to be a departure from its non-conforming RX-8 “Renesis” engine. Major design shifts include relocated intake and exhaust ports, a repositioned turbocharger, and dual exhaust catalysts. This could mean a potentially much more powerful and much more emissions-friendly engine.
Rice also elaborated on the design team’s goal of giving the RX-Vision concept a taste of the ‘60s and ‘70s Italian sports cars, which as he says, were “pure, very clean and very exciting,” compared to today’s “busier” car designs.
“We respect those values of purity and beauty,” notes Rice. “They were valid then, and—if nobody else wants to do it—we want to resurrect those values.” Let’s hope the company does, at least for one last Mazda RX-7 hurrah.