Mazda sets its sights on a rotary sports car – report

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Mazda has announced it is doubling-down on the development of the rotary engine for future models – after unveiling a sports-car concept late last year.

Mazda has announced it will assemble a new team dedicated to the development of the rotary engine.

The Japanese car maker has already brought the rotary engine back to showrooms in a hybrid version of the MX-30 small SUV, but it is doubling down on the technology – months after unveiling a rotary-powered sports-car concept.

Mazda President and CEO Katsuhiro Moro made the announcement to an audience at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, before which he had been discussing the Iconic SP concept.

“I am very happy and deeply moved by all the support and encouragement I have received for the compact sports car concept. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all,” he said.

“With your encouragement, we are launching a rotary engine development group on 1 February to move closer to this dream.”

While the remarks were far from confirmation of production, they have created a glimmer of hope for rotary engine enthusiasts worldwide.

However, the next generation of rotary sports cars – continuing the lineage of the RX-7 and RX-8 – might not be what most expect.

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The Iconic SP concept uses a rotary engine as a generator to power electric motors which spin the wheels – much like the Mazda MX-30 R-EV – rather than driving the wheels through a traditional driveline.

The concept was said to produce approximately 272kW and weigh 1450kg, with the Iconic SP even compared to a Porsche 911 by the Mazda executive on stage.

After years of patents, teases, rumours, and concepts, Mazda appears to be the closest it has been in years to launching a rotary-powered sports car – albeit with electric motors.

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than two decades. Ben began writing professionally more than 15 years ago and was previously an interstate truck driver. He completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021 and is considered an expert on classic car investment.

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