Mazda is said to bring back the rotary engine to the global automotive stage when a successor for the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars launches in 2017. The timing is not random, as in 2017, Mazda will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first car powered by a Wankel rotary engine, the Cosmo Sport.
According to an Autoexpress report, just like the RX-7 and RX-8 before it, the new Mazda sports car will be bigger and more powerful than the Mazda MX-5 roadster. More importantly, it should be more fuel-efficient and reliable than its predecessors, with engineers working to solve the Wankel’s engine typical flaws, high fuel and oil consumption and low torque, without going the turbocharged route.
Engineers are said to be using Mazda’s Skyactiv technology, which favors shedding weight and using high compression ratios to boost power and efficiency from naturally aspirated engines. The new rotary engine is rumored to produce around 300 hp, up from 238 hp in the most powerful RX-8. The RX-8’s engine is expected to be mated to six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions.
In order to save weight, Mazda is likely to return to a classic two-door coupe body style rather than continue the RX-8’s four-door configuration. Discontinued in 2010, the RX-8 tipped the scales at around 1,310 kg (2,888 lbs), 120 kg (264.5 lbs) more than a current Toyota GT 86. Naturally, Mazda’s upcoming sports car will stick to rear-wheel drive, especially since the car is said to be based on an extended version of the new MX-5’s platform, modified to support the more potent powertrain.
It is unclear yet whether Mazda will use the RX-7 or RX-8 nameplates once again or resort to a new RX-9 moniker.