A rotary-powered Mazda sports car isn’t dead yet.
Rumors about the return of rotary engines to Mazda products have ricocheted around the Internet since the demise of the RX-8 in 2012. The Japanese automaker’s love for the compact, high-powered engine began with the Mazda Cosmo in 1967. Felix Wankel’s unique engine designed went on to power various Mazda models for decades, creating a rabid and dedicated fanbase. But in 2012, Mazda discontinued the engine along with the RX-8. Now, Wojciech Halarewicz, Mazda vice president of communications in Europe, is hinting the engine could return in a new sports car.
Mazda confirmed last year the rotary engine would return, except it’d be for an electric vehicle as a range extender. That’s a far cry from the engine’s sporty history within Mazda. However, Halarewicz, speaking with PistonHeads, said the possibility of a rotary-engined sports car was inadvertently getting closer thanks to the development of the company’s first EV, which is expected sometime in 2020.
“We know that electric cars will be important in 2020 to 2025, but also that EVs are not the answer for everything," he told the publication. "Combustion engines will still play a part, and if you asked me if I want a rotary sports car at the top of the range, I'd say yes I'd love to have one. Many of my colleagues would too. So it's a matter of keeping the sales growth going to make sure we can do one in the future.”
It sounds like many at Mazda are on board with the idea of a new rotary-powered sports car. However, it won’t happen if the sales aren’t there to support its development. Using a rotary engine as a range extender is one thing. Flip the script and use an EV powertrain to augment the power of a rotary engine, and you have a receipt for a potent sports car. Add Mazda’s sleek design language, and you could create an eye-catching and powerful sports car that’s fun and efficient.