The rotary engine appeared dead when Mazda didn't follow up the RX-8, but about three years later, Mazda just announced the RX-Vision and the return of the rotary engine.
While Mazda has put a hold on mass production of cars with rotary engines, the company says it never stopped researching and developing builds based around the novel powertrain. The RX-Vision evidences those efforts.
Mazda showed off the RX-Vision at the Tokyo Motor Show in Hiroshima, describing the concept car's rotary engine as an emblem of the automaker's spirit of "never-stop-challenging."
Mazda is the only automaker to mass produce automobiles with rotary engines, which applies rotational motion to a triangular rotor. Rotary engines challenge engineers with issues of fuel efficiency, but the reward for using them is the sheer amount of power the can compact into small form factors — and that makes for a lighter sports car.
"Mazda's vision is to deliver true driving pleasure that will earn its cars a position as the customer's partner, and will enrich their motoring lives," says Mazda. "That motivates Mazda to continually defy convention and push the boundaries, building cars that match its unique vision."
The company brought the rotary engine to mass production with the introduction of the Cosmo Sport in 1967. In 1991, a Mazda car, powered by a rotary engine, took top honors at 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Mazda sees it work with rotary engines as a symbol of its creativity and ingenuity, and if the RX-Vision manifests in the form of a marketable car, it'll be powered by Mazda's next-generation SKYACTIV-R rotary engine. For now, the RX-Vision is just that. It's a vision, a dream.
"I look forward to talking with you more about this vision we have revealed here today at the Mazda stand," said Mazda's Representative Director, President and CEO, Masamichi Kogai. "Mazda will continue to take on new challenges in an effort to build a special bond with our customers and become their 'one and only' brand."