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Return of the Rotary Confirmed: But What Exactly is Mazda Working On?

It seems there's been rumors about a new rotary engine from Mazda since even before production stopped on its last rotary sports car, the RX-8 back in 2012. Rotary fans and sports car enthusiasts have long dreamed of a new RX-8, or better yet a return of the iconic RX-7 but Mazda has been largely mum about bringing back the unique engine type—until now that is.

Mazda RX-8 R3 Blue 2009

Thanks to an announcement posted on social media by Mazda's Chinese branch, the return of the rotary engine has been confirmed, we just don't yet know what form it will take. Naturally, one would hope this means Mazda is in fact building a new rotary sports car but that assumption may be premature.

Mazda Rotary Engine Announcement

That's because representatives from Mazda have already told the media that they would like to bring back the rotary engine not as a main powerplant but as a gasoline range extender for future plug-in vehicles.

Mazda 2020 EV Prototype Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda's new EV will debut next month at the Tokyo Motor Show, and CX-30 bodied prototypes have already been making the rounds with "e-TPV" written on the sides, whatever that may mean. While Mazda has said the project will be a full battery electric, the new rotary engine could make an appearance here as range extender.

2020 Mazda EV Prototype CX-30

The reason Mazda has considered the rotary layout as a gasoline range extender isn't because of its power capabilities, but the smoothness in which it operates. The idea would to be to have smoother less obtrusive operation than normal gasoline range extenders.

Mazda RX-8 Renesis Rotary Engine

On the other hand, the speculation that Mazda is also developing a full-fledged rotary sports car is not without warrant, and to see that all you have to do is go back to the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show where Mazda showed off a rather stunning machine called the RX Vision Concept.

Mazda RX Vision Concept Rotary Engine 2015

Not only was the RX Vision gorgeous, it was also built as potential showcase of what Mazda called its "SKYACTIV-R" next generation rotary engine technology. Although no details were ever given about its powerplant, at the very least it showed that the prospect was still there. Needless to say, it got a lot of people excited about the idea of a Mazda RX-9.

Mazda RX Vision Concept Rear View

More recently Mazda showed off an equally eye-catching concept called the Vision Coupe at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Rather than being rotary-powered though, it's been leaked that the Vision Concept may preview a new rear-drive Mazda powered by straight six SKYACTIV engines.

Mazda Vision Coupe Concept 2017

Whatever form(s) the return of the Mazda rotary engine may take, these are exciting developments and it's nice to know we can get back to having dreams about a modern successor to Mazda's iconic rotary machines of the past.

Mazda RX Vision Concept Interior 2015

If in fact Mazda is indeed planning to follow up the 2015 and 2017 Tokyo Motor Shows with a big rotary announcement, we'll know in less than a month's time as Mazda's 2019 Tokyo press conference is scheduled for October 23.

Mazda RX Vision Concept Side View 2015

For now, we can continue to piece together the quotes and leaks, or look back to the statement the company made when it showed the RX Vision Concept; "Mazda will never stop challenging to deliver new rotary engines that provide its unique brand of driving pleasure."

In the meantime you can also take a look here some of Mazda's other future plans including the aforementioned new rear-drive platform.

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