This is Concept We Forgot, Motor1's deep dive into weird and wonderful concept cars you might not remember.
Name: Mazda RX-Vision
Debut: 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Engine: Skyactiv-R rotary engine
Output: Not Available
Drive Type: Front-Engine, Rear-Wheel-Drive
Take a trip back to October 2015, when people were hotly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. On the other side of the globe, Mazda had its own spaceship-looking sports car in the RX-Vision concept. It debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show with a lovely long hood, a wraparound windshield, a short rear deck, and most importantly, a rotary Wankel engine. It looked like this could be the second coming of the Mazda RX-7.
Mazda knew the powertrain would be catnip to enthusiasts. The company touted a “next-generation Skyactiv-R rotary” while touting the classic Cosmo Sport and the 1991 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same breath – the only overall win by a Japanese company at the time. The automaker knew how to build excitement.
The RX-Vision was deceptively compact. While it looks big in pictures, the car was 172.8 inches long and had a 106.3-inch-long wheelbase. For comparison, the Nissan Z and Porsche 718 Cayman are just a bit smaller than that. The fourth-generation Mazda RX-7 FD was even tinier at 168.5 inches.
Inside, the RX-Vision featured a retro-looking instrument cluster, especially by modern design standards. Rather than a digital instrument cluster and an infotainment screen, three circular, analog gauge pods were behind the steering wheel. A stumpy gearshift emerged from the tall center tunnel.
When the RX-Vision debuted in 2015, Mazda launched a fun video to accompany the premiere. It showed all of the brand’s rotary-powered vehicles, including several concepts, in chronological order.
Despite critics' praise for the concept, though, the RX-Vision never went into production. However, the company didn’t immediately give up on the project. Mazda created the RX-Vision GT3 race car concept for the video game Gran Turismo Sport, which had the same general look with a modified nose and a more prominent front splitter, plus additional openings on the hood. The sides received wider fenders, and the back had a taller wing and diffuser.
The RX-Vision GT3 had significant interior revisions from the original concept, too. A digital display was positioned behind the yoke-like steering wheel. Plus, a rearview camera and an array of buttons were on the center stack.
The company quoted the virtual race car’s powertrain producing 562 horsepower and 398 pound-feet from a four-rotor Skyactiv-R rotary engine. Mazda even went so far as to create a 1:18-scale model of the RX-Vision concept. At $535, they weren’t cheap, and the company only made 30 of them.
These days, the possibility of a new rotary-powered Mazda sports coupe seems unlikely – but there’s still a chance. The Iconic SP concept from last year offered up some hope of a new Mazda sports car alongside the fact that Mazda said it is developing a new Wankel engine this year.
Where Is It Now?
As of 2023, the RX-Vision was on display at the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. Attendees must schedule a tour three months in advance to visit. But Mazda doesn’t seem to take the RX-Vision out of the museum very often. It was at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2016, but that's about it. And we’re not surprised it stays so well-kept; it’s a concept deserving of preservation.