Mazda’s head of R&D and chief of design have both confirmed it is still their dream to build a rotary-powered halo sports car.
Rumours that Mazda is working on a rotary-powered successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 have been circulating for years and reached fever pitch in 2015 when the company revealed the RX-9 concept car.
We’ve had scant news since then, though speaking to Wheels at the Tokyo motor show, both Ichiro Hirose and Ikuo Maeda, who head up Mazda’s R&D and design divisions, revealed that project is “still our dream”.
Maeda-san expanded further, saying Mazda is in a “race against time” to make the new sports car happen.
When pressed about when we might see the new sports car, Maeda replied: “It’s a difficult question but we never give up on that dream. It’s [been] too long, huh?
“I understand the clock is ticking and the environment can change. We have to see if the future environment will accept a sports car with open arms. So we understand we are racing against time.”
There’s further evidence that Mazda hasn’t given up on the project too. Japanese publication Motor Magazine recently reported that the sports car will be built on a bespoke platform, and a patent application surfaced last month for a new chassis design with double-wishbone suspension.
The issue, of course, is cost. Creating a standalone sports car, especially one on a bespoke platform, is prohibitively expensive for small mainstream manufacturers ‑ though Maeda believes the passion from Mazda’s sports car fans is a powerful weapon when it comes to getting the project signed-off by the board.
“There are still many fans of sports cars, so I think [the way forward is] understanding these voices and understanding the determination of these sports car fans, and then turning that into power to push for the new sports car,” he said.
One possible avenue is a joint venture, similar to the deals struck between Toyota and Subaru, and Toyota and BMW, to produce the 86/BRZ and Supra/Z4, though Maeda denied that Mazda has approached any other brands.
“We currently do not have such plans at all…” he said. “[But] I think we probably need to explore various different ways to actually realise it, because what’s important is actually offering the sports car to market.”
And as for the likelihood of any potential sports car being offered down under?
“We all dream about the opportunity for a rotary sports car,” said Mazda Australia boss Vinesh Bhindi. “If Mazda Corporation ever make one, yes, we would be absolutely fighting to be at the front of the queue to get it in Australia.”