Mazda has provided the strongest hint yet that rotary power will return to its performance cars.

    Revealed on Gran Turismo Sport, the virtual RX-Vision GT3 Concept is “powered by the next-generation rotary engine ‘Skyactiv-R’, a dream that Mazda wants to bring to life in the future”.

    It isn’t an outright commitment to a reborn RX-7, but it’s the strongest indication Mazda has given it will use the rotary as more than just a range-extender since the 2015 RX-Vision concept.

    Mazda executives have been open in their desire to build a new performance flagship – the brand’s head of powertrain development in 2018 described launching a new rotary sports car as a personal dream.

    Mazda Australia also expressed interest, a spokesperson telling CarExpert if “something like this were available we’d take a close look at it – but right now we’re enjoying playing it on the PlayStation 4”.

    According to Gran Turismo, the RX-Vision GT3 is powered by a quad-rotor engine inspired by the Le Mans-winning 787B. Details are thin, but the engine has reportedly been “brought back to life using Skyactiv technology”.

    “This new rotary engine is mounted in a lightweight body to achieve unprecedented performance,” according to the official PlayStation Blog.

    Tightening emissions regulations, reliability problems, and Mazda’s status as a relative minnow in the automotive world have conspired to hold a proper RX-7 successor out of reach.

    Reports from Europe last year suggested the Wankel would be brought back as a small, smooth range extender for the new MX-30 electric vehicle.

    Mazda used a similar system in a 2015 concept based on the city-sized 2 hatchback.

    However the brand also quietly patented a new side-port exhaust system for a turbocharged rotary engine in 2019, drawing on what it has learned from its ultra-lean Skyactiv-G and Skyactiv-X engines.

    The last rotary-powered production Mazda was the RX-8. Launched in 2003, it packed 170kW of power and 211Nm of torque. It stuck around until 2012, at which point the rotary was retired indefinitely.

    Although the RX-Vision concept had enthusiasts excited about a potential RX-9 for the brand’s 100th anniversary in 2020, a production version was ruled out because it was too expensive to develop.

    The RX-Vision GT3 draws heavily on the 2015 RX-Vision concept, but adds a heavy dose of racing aggression to the mix. There’s a towering, angular rear wing, and more aggressive front splitter than the original concept.

    It will be available this afternoon, Australian time.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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