Automobile

A New Mazda Rotary Sports Car Is Officially Being ‘Considered’

Toyota, Subaru, and Mazda held a joint conference earlier this week, promising to save the internal combustion engine by making it run cleaner. Toyota unveiled several new inline-fours while Subaru previewed a next-generation hybrid boxer. Mazda brought something more exciting: a prototype for a two-rotor engine.

Although the company didn’t go into specifics about the new hardware, it did announce it could be installed in a performance vehicle one day. As seen in the Iconic SP concept, the rotary engine would work as a generator by juicing up the battery rather than being mechanically connected to the wheels. Mazda already offers a single-rotor engine in the MX-30 where it’s installed transversely. In the potential RX revival, the two-rotor setup would be longitudinally mounted.

<p>Mazda two-rotary engine</p>

“This concept unit is equipped with two longitudinally mounted rotary engines for power generation, enabling a larger power supply and realizing low center of gravity proportions. The unit also aims to improve vibration and emissions by increasing the displacement. It is also being considered for use in sports cars.”

There you have it—a new RX is officially on the table. The big news comes just as we learned an RX-7 reboot was considered in the mid-2000s. Mazda pulled the plug because of the financial crisis. It would’ve been a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car positioned above the MX-5 Miata (NC). However, it looks as though the RX could come back one day. After years of rumors, speculations, and a gorgeous concept, we now have it written in black and white that this new two-rotor engine could go into a fun car.

Lest we forget the Japanese automaker has a dedicated rotary engine team. It was formally established in February and consists of 36 engineers working together on “attractive cars that excite customers.” The last time Mazda had a rotary sports car in its portfolio was in 2012 when the JDM-spec RX-8 Spirit R served as the model’s swan song.

<p>Mazda two-rotary engine</p>
<p>Mazda two-rotary engine</p>

In October 2023, the company’s Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama said the Iconic SP was intentionally made bigger than it needed to be. Why? To create a bigger splash at the Japan Mobility Show where the concept debuted. He went on to mention that Mazda can shrink the car to the size of a Miata, despite having to cram in a two-rotor engine, an electric motor, and a battery pack.

The Iconic SP was 164.6 inches long and 82.8 inches wide, therefore making it substantially larger than a Miata ND but still with just two seats. It tipped the scales at 3,197 pounds (distributed 50:50), so substantially more than the featherweight MX-5. With 365 horsepower on tap, it had about twice the power of the diminutive sports car, which turns 35 this year.

Having given the current Miata a third important update this year, Mazda is unlikely to launch the fifth-generation model anytime soon. It’s unclear whether a production Iconic SP would be the next MX-5 or the plan is to sell a larger, more expensive sports car. That’s provided the Iconic SP is actually going to happen, of course. Fingers crossed!

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