NEWS: Mazda was likely testing a rotary sports car as recently as eight months ago

Somehow this slipped past our radar, but it seems that Mazda was testing what is likely a rotary powered sports car as recently as December 2017. Spy photos captured a prototype based on a Mazda RX-8, a car that has been out of production since 2012, making it quite curious why it would be testing about eight months ago. Only a few US media outlets seem to have caught onto it, and it really should have created more fanfare than it did. Here’s why.

In photos obtained by Japanese site CliccCar, the RX-8’s license plate on the test mule reads “HG DC” and is consistent with other Mazda test cars. The plate locates the registration in Hochtaunuskreis, where Mazda’s German R&D offices are.

The prototype appears to be a complete RX-8, and not the stretched Miatas they used when developing the RX-8 itself. Only the front end, enlarged for more air intake, and some bits behind the grille look funny, so it must just be for engine testing.

That engine is likely to be a rotary, and although it’s possible they could be testing a SkyActiv piston engine of some sort, why would they test a piston engine in an RX-8? A straight-six engine wouldn’t fit anyway, and although an inline-four might, the RX-8 is a RWD platform.

Also, the RX-8 is a Spirit R, which was a Japan-only model commemorating the last 2,000 RX-8s made. That means that though the test mule is being driven in Germany, it was probably built in Japan, where Mazda conducts most of its rotary research and construction. Why would they build a prototype out of a limited edition? Well, maybe it was just what they had lying around. It’s also not that special, It’s the same as the Type RS/R3, just with a badge and different colored wheels.

The last official glimpse we saw from Mazda of what could be a rotary-powered sports car was the 2015 RX-Vision concept. Since then, Mazda has said that if the rotary comes back, it’ll be as a range extender in a hybrid setup, likely due to fuel efficiency laws and market forces that don’t favor sports cars at the moment. Maybe that’s true for production vehicles, but it’s nice to know that even if Mazda can’t bring a rotary sports car to market, it’s still hell-bent on trying.

This post is filed under: News and
tagged: , , .

9 Responses to NEWS: Mazda was likely testing a rotary sports car as recently as eight months ago

  1. Roger says:

    I was 11 when the FD came out and have been smitten ever since. Still haven’t owned a rotary but its on my bucket list.

  2. j_tso says:

    Need a video with sound to determine if it goes “hmmmmmmmmm”.

    Even if it’s not rotary powered, I’d like to see another FR car from Mazda.

  3. Tom Westmacott says:

    Hmm… are those larger oil coolers ahead of the front wheels? They look bigger than the stock items. Can’t see any intercooler, so it does look like it’s most likely running a naturally aspirated rotary.

    With the GT-R, NSX and Supra all being resurrected and Mazda doing relatively well, it’s as good a time as any to dream of the RX-7 coming back for a fourth round. Something on the platform of the current MX-5 could be small and light enough to reach borderline-acceptable emissions and fuel consumption with the ’16X’, as well as being as intimate and responsive as RX-7s should be. I mean, it’s a nice dream and I’m sure some people at Mazda are actively dreaming, too.

    Still, just because the Mazda people can never completely give up on the rotary doesn’t mean it is actually possible for it to return; sadly I fear this is one dream which will remain just beyond the boundaries of reality.

  4. Mark Newton-John says:

    The intakes in front of the wheels could be intercoolers, like in the Fiat Abarth and Porsche Cayenne, they don’t have to be hanging out front like bosozoku monstrosity.
    Typical engineering mule though, althouh the driver looks like he’s had a few wurst und biers…

  5. Mark Newton-John says:

    Unless a new RX-9 can deliver serious horsepower, I won’t expect it to do well in North America, where you need at leasr 300hp to be taken seriously these days. It’s not enough to have just a car that handles well, you have to have some oomph, otherwise, just get a mild Miata or an 86. Hell, a Focus ST has 252 hp, a turbo Mustang has a 300 hp four cylinder engine, 205 hp 86s and BRZs aren’t setting the world on fire.

  6. Dillan says:

    I cannot confirm or prove this by any means, but somebody I trust at a Rotary meet I went to last month had told me that the 16X Rotary has in fact been produced, so hopefully this is them doing testing on it. We won’t know anything until Mazda actually speaks up, but here’s hoping for a new Rotary!

  7. speedie says:

    Pure speculation on my part, but considering the significance of the rotary engine in Mazda’s history, and the fact that their 100th anniversary is approaching in 2020, I truly feel Mazda is going to do something special with a rotary engine in it for its birthday celebration. My guess would be an updated version of the Skyactive-R (which was an updated version of the Renesis II 16X introduced in 2007) that appeared in the 2015 RX-Vision Concept. Knowing Mazda, I am sure they have been looking into applying their Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (or HCCI) technology to a rotary. Now that would be a cool engine to celebrate a birthday with.

  8. Tim says:

    My SS is close to being paid off. I told my wife it’d be my last new car unless Mazda releases an RX-7 or the GT-R gets a stick shift. I will gladly throw stupid amounts of money at this car if it meets even half of my expectations. PleasePleasePlease…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *