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.