Mazda is in a tough spot, and frankly, it’s been that way for several years now. Actually, we need to clarify that statement: Mazda is in a tough spot with enthusiasts, and to be even more precise, fans of the rotary engine. These folks are rotary-obsessed and quite vocal to boot, but sales of the RX-8 were less than impressive. It was dropped in 2012, and rumors have continually surfaced since then about an RX-9 that will bring rotary glory back to the world. Jalopnik now has insight on a new RX-9 rumor that seems to have promise, but there’s a major catch. It apparently won’t have a rotary.
The rumor is unconfirmed and coming from an anonymous source, though Jalopnik believes it’s credible. In place of a compact rotary engine, taking station under this proposed RX-9’s hood would be a turbocharged inline-six and no, it’s reportedly not of BMW origin. The rumor pegs the mill as a variant of Mazda’s Skyactiv family, which is a legitimate project currently in the works. It’s said to produce between 350 and 400 horsepower, and if the RX-9 manages to be as light and balanced as its predecessors, it could be a very lively machine for battling the Toyota Supra.
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We suspect a Mazda RX-branded sports car without a rotary would be sacrilege to the aforementioned fans, but that’s why we say the automaker is in a tough spot. Once you get past the size and weight advantages of a rotary, reliability and efficiency make it a hard sell in today’s world. That’s especially true with regards to efficiency – rotary engines are notoriously thirsty, and then there’s the whole issue of emissions. Sorry rotary fans, but the deeper you go, the less likely it seems such a mill will ever return to production.
As such, that raises an interesting question. If a rotary engine is out of the question for new models, should Mazda retire its RX moniker or evolve the car into something new? We open the floor to discussion on this issue, so let us know your thoughts below.