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Mazda Rotary Engine May Make 2017 Comeback

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Mazda rotary engine

The RX-8, the last of the Mazda rotary engine interceptors!

There’s been talk brewing for some time now that Mazda is looking to reintroduce a Wankel engine-powered successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 within the next few years. Given the fact that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo Sport, it’s being suggested that that rotary engine Mazda will be some manner of commemorative edition.

Mazda rotary engine

The Cosmo Sport

Auto Express is under the distinct impression that the…well, we’ll call it a RX-9 (why not) is being built on the MX-5’s rear-drive platform with modifications to help support a projected 300-horsepower output. It’s rumored that it will sport a body style more in line with that of the RX-7 in order to cut weight, and that Mazda has no intention of using turbocharging.

Mazda will instead look to methods used in building SKYACTIV vehicles to create a happy middle for performance and proficiency. This creates an interesting challenge, indeed. While the rotary engine Mazda used in the 787B that won Le Mans in 1991 has become something of a legend, the Wankel is perhaps just as legendary for its poor fuel consumption, seemingly perpetual hunger for oil, and the difficulty it had meeting modern emissions standards.

Mazda rotary engine

The Mazda 787B from Le Mans, 1991

Given that Auto Express doesn’t name any of the sources that confirmed their report, we’ll take this news with a grain of salt, even in spite of the fact that Mazda itself confirmed that the rotary engine was not completely dead after production of the RX-8 stopped. With almost two years gone by since that promise that a Mazda rotary engine would rise again, this may just be a case of believe it when you see it.Mazda Pos

Certainly, Mazda has a history of innovating, so if anybody’s going to figure out how to make a Wankel that gets respectable gas mileage, churns out 300 horses, and doesn’t use a turbocharger, they’ve got as good a shot as anyone.