If you were super excited about rumors of the rotary engine powered RX-9, and a lot of people were, we hate to disappoint you. It won’t be happening even though Mazda did a good job teasing us with the RX-Vision concept last year.
But no, a rotary engine powered sports car to replace the RX-8 is not to be. In an interview with Automotive News, CEO Masamichi Kogai confirmed the automaker has no plans to build a bigger sports car than the Miata. (How they could beat the new gorgeous MX-5 Miata RF we don’t know anyway.)
“If we were to restart production of the rotary engine again, we need to make sure it would not be short-lived,” said Kogai. “We need it to meet future emissions regulations. We are still conducting our R&D activity to overcome any issues we have with emissions and fuel efficiency.”
This doesn’t mean the rotary engine is dead though. It just won’t be used for a sports car. Kogai implied the most likely application would be as a range extender in an electric car. It could even be used as a main power plant. But again, not in a sports car.
“I think that as a sports car option, the MX-5 1.5-liter or 2.0-liter conventional engine, with its power and acceleration, might be a more exhilarating experience,” said Kogai.
Rotary engines used to be hot in the industry- but not anymore due to their naturally high fuel consumption. Mazda has a new turbocharged rotary Skyactiv-R engine in the works, but it’s not even a for sure thing yet.
What is for sure is that Mazda is putting a lot of effort into electric cars so it seems like any powertrain action will be in that area. To that end, Mazda recently teamed up with Toyota to develop electrified vehicles.