The affection of Mazda toward rotary engines is shown with the RX line of vehicles which kept these engines until late 2000’s. The last rotary engine owner from the RX family lineup was the RX-8 which followed after the RX-7 on the markets. What is interesting lately is that the successor to both of these is supposed to inherit the rotary unit as well, and its rumored name is the RX-9.
The RX-9 is still in development stages, and we don’t have official confirmations that its production name will be such, it just seems somehow natural to call it like that. The RX-9 is due sometime in 2023, and it is supposed to host a SkyActiv-R rotary engine. Although this type of engine can be naturally aspirated, supercharged or turbocharged – it is unclear what will Mazda do to the RX-9’s one. We like the possibility of turbo unit, and most rumors are going in that direction. On the other hand, since every automaker now goes for the turbo option, due to downsizing engines, we believe that Mazda might go the other way because they were always different in that view. So it is perfectly OK to expect the future SkyActiv-R unit without a turbocharger.
What is another option, that is becoming more and more popular, is that Mazda might swing even further from original, meaning it might utilize a hybrid configuration for the RX-9 model. They already own a trademark for the name, so that is one step that can be checked off, and we believe that they should have no problem launching it. Why is this so interesting? Well, the reason is clear. Former rotary engine allowed Mazda to reduce its emissions, but without almost any impact on the performance side of it, the only problem was a lack of torque. The addition of a hybrid option to all of this might result in even more power, which is something everybody would love to see in this sporty Mazda.
What would be good for a Japanese company, if they decide to use it, is an electric unit that can be used to start the engine, charge the batteries, and provide an e-power boost. Something similar to a concept system that Mercedes already has planned for its straight-six petrol engines as a standard feature. This would help Mazda in a great extent, primarily in preserving the spirit of its sports cars and secondarily in lowering CO2 emissions and reducing fuel usage.