Mazda’s Tokyo concept foretells of rotary revival

Mazda has long been rumored to be planning a revival of its rotary-powered sports car. Some of those rumors may have come down to wishful thinking as much as concrete information. But now, on the eve of the Tokyo Motor Show, new details have come to light.

The Japanese automaker is slated to unveil a two-door sports car concept, previewed in the teaser image above. Little in the way of firm information has been made available prior to the show car’s debut, but sources are now citing senior company officials as confirming it has a rotary engine.

“It is a two-door, two-seater, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai told Autocar. “It is a pure sports car design. We have MX-5 and another icon is a rotary sports car. We haven’t talked about market reach but this would be in that segment.”

R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara added: “People think rotary can not meet modern eco demands. The SkyActiv engineers worked on rotary and gave it cutting-edge tech. It is an essential part of our DNA and it [will] just be passed onto future engineers. It is synonymous with the brand. Some time in the future it will return and be called SkyActiv-R.”

The last time Mazda produced a rotary-powered model, of course, was with the RX-8, which ended production in 2012. That was preceded by three generations of RX-7, the first of which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. If it manages to get the Wankel technology up to modern standards, that could provide just the right opportunity for Mazda to launch a new model.

Reached for comment, Mazda spokesman Jacob Brown told Autoblog: “While we can confirm that Mazda continues to develop rotary engines, we cannot confirm production of a rotary at this point. Rotaries are one of the signature engineering technologies that define Mazda, and we will continue exploring them to see where they may fit for production applications.”

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