It’s happening, folks: Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine. According to Autocar, the company released an announcement on Chinese social media that it will reveal a new generation of its iconic powertrain later this week.
Where it’ll show up, however, remains to be seen. Mazda head honcho Mitsuo Hitomi previously confirmed would use a rotary engine as a range extender for its first electric car, expected to debut this year — but he also suggested further, more exciting applications of the rotary engine to come.
Rotary engines, after all, powered Mazda’s famed RX performance models. Those unconventional engines ran at high rpm, producing a ton of power from tiny displacements. The last model to run a rotary, the RX-8, produced 232 horsepower from a naturally-aspirated 1.3-liter engine. (The downside to those engines, howver: fuel efficiency. The last RX-8 achieved just 18 mpg combined.)
Autocar says Hitomi “strongly hinted” Mazda had a further rotary engine model planned beyond the EV. The hints are there: Mazda’s stunning “Vision Coupe” concept from 2018 presaged a rotary-powered model. Mazda has also just patented a “vehicle shock absorption structure” for what would be a new vehicle. That vehicle has a small engine bay, one that would fit a rotary engine nicely.
It may be premature to connect the dots to a new RX sports car, but things at Mazda appear to be aligning. Until then, you can find affordable examples of the legendary RX-7 available all across America.