Towards the end of 2015, Mazda unveiled the stunning rotary-powered RX-VISION concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. A front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car with dramatic looks representing the most advanced evolution of the Japanese manufacturer's "KODO – Soul of Motion" design philosophy, this vision in red could be powered by a next-generation SKYACTIV-R rotary engine that is reportedly in development.
The first thoughts of fans and journalists often concern the likelihood of a concept car making it into production and the various challenges it has to overcome to achieve that reality. The RX-VISION had clearly caught the imagination of many though, as they also asked whether it it would bear the name of some its illustrious and much-loved predecessors – the RX-7 or RX-8. Or possibly whether it could be named the RX-9.
Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda’s head of R&D, told Top Gear at the Tokyo show: “Will it be called RX-9? Well, all previous RX-7s have been two or 2+2 seaters and the RX-8 was a four-seater, so what would that make RX-9? A six-seater? This concept is a two-seater, so you can imagine which number fits best.”
RX-7 it is then!
Mass production of their rotary engines is currently on hold, however, Mazda has never stopped its research and development efforts in that field. The next rotary engine has already been named SKYACTIV-R, but has some mighty motors to compete with in terms of output and efficiency if this dreamy looking car is to become real.
Mr Fujiwara said: “If we are able to mass produce this car, then maybe a Porsche Cayman is the right comparison, but like the MX-5 we want to make it lighter. I can’t go into details, but we believe turbo is one of the options we can look at for rotary.”
“We realise 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 analyse the combustion in the engine by computer. We can control the ignition system or the injection system in the computer, and what kind of economy can occur in the engine. That kind of technology can help us to new materials, a new ignition system or a new shape for the rotary.”
“We want to return the rotary engine to the market some day soon. It’s our heart and soul. In 2017 it is the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo Sport. Therefore we want to announce something in 2017 – and not a concept car.”
While the engine sounds like it requires a great deal of technical tinkering, the design looks breath-taking and captured the “Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” award at the 31st Festival Automobile International.