Last fall at the Tokyo Motor Show Mazda revealed a stunning vision for the future. Appropriately, it was called the RX-Vision, and as the name implies, it was a rotary-powered sports car in the tradition of the Mazda RX-7 and Cosmo Sport. While it was loved by enthusiasts, most have been burned one too many times by the “Here’s an incredible concept for you to drool over but we won’t build it” switcharoo. Not this time.
We had heard from company sources that Mazda has been working on a new type of rotary engine, but proof of this has been confirmed by newly discovered patent drawings revealed today. Taken from the US Patent and Trademark Office, the filing (PDF) appears to confirm that development of the SkyActiv-R rotary engine is not only well underway, but significantly different than Mazda’s previous rotary designs.
For one, the intake port is on the bottom, by the crossmember where the turbo has traditionally sat. The reason for this, Mazda says, is because the longer distance the air must travel in the intake manifold helps create inertia, providing a “dynamic forced-induction effect.” However, just in case that’s not enough forced induction for ya, having the exhaust port on top gives exiting gases a shorter trip to the turbo, which means less resistance and quicker spooling.
Understandably, journalists have been wary of declaring rotary engine production, having been proved wrong by other promising (and promised) concepts. Remember, though, CEO Masamichi Kogai gave an impassioned speech at the Tokyo Motor Show about how he personally wants to make a rotary sports car a reality. In talks both public and private, company engineers constantly describe the rotary engine as the soul of Mazda. Sure, these could be dismissed as typical marketing buzzwords, but given everything we know about Mazda and its culture, it’s not.
The car that this new rotary engine ends up in won’t look like the RX-Vision. That was just a design study, albeit one that makes a strong statement about where Mazda would like to see itself go as a company. Apparently, a beautiful, rotary-powered sports GT is the ultimate expression of the marque’s philosophy. The company is strong on heritage, and is fully aware that the 50th anniversary of its rotary engine is next year, 2017.
Back when the RX-Vision was unveiled, we called it Mazda’s battle cry in a world that has largely abandoned the sports car. Now they have the ammo to back it up.