Rumors about Mazda building a new rotary-engined sports car have proliferated ever since Mazda pulled the RX-8 after 2012. Mazda stoked those rumors with their spectacular RX-Vision rotary sports car concept they unveiled in Tokyo in 2015, and the company has affirmed the desire to build such a rotary sports cars — if it becomes feasible. Now, however, we have some new evidence the brand has been working on one behind the scenes.
A Mazda blogger in Japan (as first spotted by AutoEvolution) uncovered a European patent application for what appears to be a new, rotary-engined sports car. The photos depict a new three-rotor engine — most previous Mazda applications were dual and single-rotor — paired with a transaxle transmission and what would be a 48-volt hybrid system.
Will Mazda build it? Mazda has a new RWD platform for its inline-six cars that could accommodate the smaller rotary engine. And rotary technology is not wholly useless elsewhere in the lineup, as the MX-30 EV uses a rotary engine for its range extender.
That said, the reasons that Mazda has not produced a rotary-powered RX-7 and RX-8 successor for nearly 10 years still hold. The high-revving engines produce an impressive amount of go — 200-plus horsepower from the tiny 1.3-liter motor in the RX-8 — and Mazda has been playing with using them in hybrids, because they're light and excel as electric generators. But rotary engines deliver poor fuel economy; the last RX-8 earned 16 mpg in city driving, a figure that would disappoint coming from a full-size truck in 2022.
And if Mazda intends to build this rotary-engined sports car in Europe where the patent was filed, the brand will need to act quickly. The new Euro 7 emissions regulations — which will effectively kill off internal combustion cars — will go into effect in 2026. So this new sports car, if it is coming, would have to arrive ASAP.