Mazda brought the rotary engine back with a whimper by using it as a range extender in the MX-30. Enthusiasts who would rather see it under a coupe’s long hood aren’t entirely out of luck, but the Japanese company clarified that a Wankel-powered sports car isn’t in the cards.
“Rotary is our symbol. It’s a dream of engineers at Mazda to have a sports car with [a] rotary. Now is not the time for that,” explained Yoshiaki Noguchi, the assistant manager of Mazda’s powertrain development division, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.
It doesn’t sound like the engineering team’s dream will come true in the near future. Noguchi clarified that Mazda’s current priority is to electrify the core members of its range in the coming years — it’s investing in electric and hybrid technology. When that’s done, the firm’s executives will reconsider whether to launch a long-awaited successor to the rotary-powered RX-8 that went out of production in 2012.
While that’s not a “heck yes,” it’s also not a “heck no,” and this marks an important shift in Mazda’s thinking — remember, former Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai ruled out a sports car bigger than the Miata in 2016. However, without a firm commitment to the sports car segment, it’s difficult to accurately predict what a born-again Wankel-powered coupe will look like. The RX-Vision concept (pictured) presented in 2015 was gorgeous, and it appeared in patent filings in 2021, but it’s approaching its 10th birthday and it’s very unlikely to reach production as-is.
Another point that’s up in the air is the type of fuel that a hypothetical rotary-powered sports car would be powered by. Gasoline immediately comes to mind, but an unverified report published in 2021 claimed that Mazda engineers were developing a hydrogen-burning rotary engine.