Before we dive into this tantalizing discovery, it's important to remember that the world of automotive patents is filled with unrealized ideas. Far more often than not, ideas are patented simply to protect them just in case they're needed for future projects. We say this because rotary fans are feverish in their passion for Mazda sports cars, but proceed with cautious optimism. This new patent filing is far from a confirmation of anything.
That said, there's no denying that the series of patent filings published this week are worthy of raising eyebrows. They are extremely technical in nature and relate to structure designs for the rear suspension and body structure of a vehicle. The visual drafts feature close-up drawings of various beams and frame structures, with explanations on the designs handling front-rear loads as well as side loads.
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Generally speaking, it's all rather unremarkable for the average individual, save for two images. The one featured at the top of this article is obviously the keeper, as it clearly shows the backside of a sports coupe. Furthermore, the patent filing even says as much – buried in the technical speak for patent number 2021-112926 (P2021-112926A) titled Rear Body Structure of Vehicle is the following passage, translated to English.
The vehicle of this embodiment adopts a so-called space frame structure in which a plurality of frames made of extruded aluminum alloy are connected to form a vehicle body skeleton, and also adopts a center pillarless structure with two side doors. It is a sports car
It doesn't get much clearer than that, but it doesn't mean this proposed sports car uses an internal combustion engine, rotary or otherwise. However, we draw attention to another patent image pertaining to structure and strength. There's clearly a center tunnel running longitudinally in the middle of the car where you'd expect to find a driveshaft, and the tunnel flares out at the front where a cogged transmission would sit.
At this point, it's worth mentioning that this isn't the first time we've seen patent filings from Mazda regarding a future sports car. Nearly two years ago we reported on designs for the front of a possible Mazda sports car, and actually, these new patent filings are dated January 16, 2020, despite just being published this week. It doesn't take a genius to put the puzzle pieces together, but of course, much has changed in the world since early 2020.
Here's the million-dollar question we know you're asking. Are we looking at the early stages of a Mazda RX-9? With all these patents put together, we're left with a front-engined sports car featuring aluminum construction, turning the rear wheels with a reinforced frame and suspension setup designed to handle higher stress. And there's no denying the similarity between the backside sketch of these patents and the RX-Vision concept from 2015.
Gallery: Mazda RX-Vision concept
In our minds, this points to some kind of electrification. Hefty battery weight and immediate torque from an electric motor require added strength in the chassis, and we know the future is electric. However, the design clearly calls for some kind of combustion engine, but we've heard repeatedly that a rotary – if used in a production vehicle – would only be a small unit to charge batteries. We say if because initial plans to debut the rotary as a range-extender in the MX-30 are on indefinite hold. And as we said in the beginning, this flurry of patent activity could also be Mazda simply securing an idea, nothing more.
Still, it's intriguing to see Mazda is at least active on some kind of sports car, even if it's just an idea. The next few years should be quite interesting.