Is Mazda planning a new rotary-powered hero car? New technical patent drawings add to years of industry rumours.
A new patent filing has been unearthed from Mazda, adding fuel to rumours the Japanese car maker could be pursuing a new two-door sports car.
Though it’s not impossible the design could be a peek at a future MX-5 hardtop, the shapes look almost identical to the RX-Vision coupe – a six-year-old concept that Mazda won’t let die. In early 2020, the car maker showed off computer-generated renderings of the RX-Vision as a GT3-style race car, released on the video game Gran Turismo.
This latest patent news comes just weeks after a new ‘R’ logo was trademarked by Mazda. The letter has been used on special rotary-powered models such as the RX-7 Spirit R and RX-8 Spirit R, and the trademarked design featured a red triangle – a shape closely associated with rotary engines, due to their unique design.
Perhaps more interestingly, when the RX-Vision concept was first shown in 2015, Mazda said it was powered by a new-generation rotary engine, named the ‘Skyactiv-R’.
While Mazda didn’t offer any details about the engine in 2015, in 2020 it claimed the RX-Vision GT3 Concept was powered by a 2.6-litre naturally-aspirated quad-rotor Skyactiv-R engine producing 419kW and 540Nm.
“This SkyActiv-R is only for the sports car, of course this kind of technology can be utilised for range extender EV [as well],” Kiyoshi Fujiwara told Drive in 2015 when he was head of research and development at Mazda. Fujiwara was promoted to vice president and chief operating officer in June 2021.
“RX-Vision is our vision model for our company and our engineers and designers, therefore for the future – I cannot say when – but in the future I would like to introduce the rotary engine into RX-Vision models,” Fujiwara told Drive at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show.
Rumours of a rotary-powered Mazda sports car have never gone away. In 2016, Japanese auto website Lawrence (formerly Holiday Auto) claimed an inside source revealed Mazda’s board of directors had officially approved the Skyactiv-R rotary engine for development. The unsubstantiated report claimed the engine would be a 1.6-litre turbocharged twin-rotor engine producing around 300kW.
More recent whispers have suggested a new-generation RX coupe could end up being powered by a six-cylinder engine, which is expected to debut in the upcoming rear-wheel-drive Mazda 6 sedan.
While car makers do patent concept car designs, it is unusual to see technical drawings from a concept car receive the same treatment – particularly six years after the concept was shown.