Last month, when Mazda released this shadowy photo of a new sports-car concept ahead of its Tokyo auto show debut, it served as fuel for the usual rotary rumors. Now, reports originating in Japan say that not only is the concept powered by a genuine rotary engine, but also that the two-door, two-seat concept hints strongly at an upcoming production car.
The news comes via reports from Auto Express and Autocar. According to the latter, Mazda’s head of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, made the following statement: “We want to return the rotary engine to the market some day soon. It’s our heart and soul.”
Lauded for a smooth and free-revving personality, rotary engines present particular developmental challenges in the areas of efficiency and emissions. Addressing this, Fujiwara stated: “We realize the fundamental structural problem of the rotary, but recently new materials have been developed and also some measuring, sensing, technology has been updated. We can analyze the combustion in the engine by computer. That can help.”
Fans of the rotary likely are aware that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo, the first production Mazda with a rotary, an occasion which Fujiwara addressed with Auto Express: “We want to announce something in 2017—and not a concept car.” Speaking of the concept, Mazda design boss Ikuo Maeda said it “represents our dream, but we don’t want it to be a dream [for] too long.”
The reports also confirm that the concept utilizes a front-engine, rear-drive layout and that the engine—dubbed Skyactiv-R—will be a “pure rotary with no electric assistance,” as had been previously speculated. Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai added that he was unwilling to speculate on launch dates, to avoid putting too much pressure on the engineers. Where the car would sit in the product lineup or if it would be positioned higher than the departed RX-8 also is undecided.
Interested parties—which should be all of you—should note that you can watch the reveal of the new concept live from Tokyo today at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST.
2015 Tokyo Auto Show Full Coverage