|Photos by Ulysses Ang and Mazda Press|
Amidst increasingly stringent emission regulations, Mazda was forced to pull the plug on the rotary engine. Fans bemoaned the end of an era when the RX-8’s Renesis ceased production in 2012. Since then, rumors (and clamors) continued that Mazda will release a modern version of its trademark engine. It took a full three years, but here it is: the Skyactiv-R underneath a concept car which Mazda says encapsulates its very soul, the RX-Vision Concept.
“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, says Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai.
Setting aside the concept car’s sleek styling, stunning proportions, and planted stance—all representative of Mazda’s KODO design language, the biggest takeaway here is the confirmation that the rotary engine is coming back. Details are currently scarce at the moment, but Mazda did confirm that the new Skyactiv-R is designed to meet future fuel economy and emissions standards.
If reports are to be believed, a skunk works team of no more than 50 engineers kept the rotary dream alive for Mazda.
In an interview with Wards’s Auto, Mazda engineers have identified the Renesis’s shortcomings and have already found suitable solutions to these problems. For instance, they have figured out that by simply changing the shape of the engine’s troichoid housing, it enables the engine to be bettered sealed improving fuel efficiency and performance while reducing the engine’s appetite for oil. And for ignition, it’s widely reported that the Skyactiv-R may replace conventional sparkplugs with lasers to improve combustion. Furthermore, the new engine will have a simplified intake system reducing engine size and weight.
Whether or not the RX-Vision Concept will make it into production virtually unchanged remains to be seen. However, Mazda is committed to bringing the Skyactiv-R to the market. 2018 seems to be the best bet to see a production version as it’s a very poignant time for Mazda as its iconic RX-7 sports car will be celebrating its 40th anniversary that year.