Mazda will roll out a sports car concept at the Tokyo motor show later this month – and speculation is it will be a badged a new RX model and showcase an improved version of the dual-fuel rotary engine the carmaker has used in its Renesis hydrogen programme.
Further conjecture has it that the engine will be larger, lighter, and considerably more fuel efficient than the 1.3-litre unit which powered the RX-8.
A production version of the concept could be expected in 2017 – timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mazda’s first Wankel rotary-powered sports car, the Cosmo Sport.
Mazda has revealed nothing other than a press release with the silhouette of a two-door concept. The teaser text said: “The design of the sports car concept … is modern but maintains a sense of lineage and authenticity, appearing almost to condense Mazda’s entire history of sportscar development into a single model.”
It was accompanied by images of the 1967 Cosmo Sport, which will be among 14 models on display at the Mazda stand to “compliment a heritage display showing Mazda’s history of convention-defying engineering.”
It is no coincidence that the Cosmo Sport has been trotted out to sit alongside the new concept. Nor is it a coincidence that the Cosmo Sport’s 50th birthday is only two years away.
The carmaker has continued to develop the rotary engine since the 1.3-litre Wankel unit in the RX-8 was discontinued in 2012 after failing to meet Euro5 emissions standards.
It has used it as a dual-fuel unit, running on hydrogen for a range limit of 200km before switching to petrol. It has used it as a range extender in hybrid test cars.
The first hint that Mazda was readying the concept came at a press conference at the Frankfurt motor show a few weeks ago. The carmaker’s global sales and marketing chief Masahiro Moro was asked about plans for another RX model to follow the Cosmo, RX-3, RX-7 and RX-8. Moro replied: “You came up with a dangerous question” … and added “stay tuned.”
The concept is expected to be rear-drive and based on a longer version of the latest MX-5 platform. Senior Mazda management are on record as saying the MX-5 chassis is stretchable.