The Mazda RX-Vision concept is one of the standouts at this year's Tokyo Motor Show thanks to a drop-dead gorgeous design and a revival of the Wankel engine. The fact that the rotary is still in development at Mazda is thanks to a dedicated group of 50 engineers. According to Automotive News, their dream for the last eight years has been to bring this storied engine design back to the street.
It won't be easy. Because of its design, the rotary suffers from poor fuel economy and high emissions. Making the challenge even harder, Mazda reportedly only gives them a small budget, but they continue to chip away at the problem. "These 50 engineers want to develop the rotary engine, therefore they joined Mazda," company research and development boss Kiyoshi Fujiwara told AN. "If I stop the rotary engine, probably they want to leave."
For the Skyactiv-R under the RX-Vision's svelte hood, the team reportedly started from the 16X rotary project. Dating back to 2007, that 1.6-liter engine was supposed to improve torque and fuel economy thanks in part to direct injection. After additional development, insiders even suggested that the engineers might have finally solved the powerplant's issues. However, Mazda never put the mill into production, and the RX-8 remains the company's last Wankel-powered model to be offered in showrooms. "We have a dream that one day, this design with a rotary engine will achieve a level that customers will accept," CEO Masamichi Kogai said to AN.
Mazda is quite clear that the RX-Vision might never go on sale without a suitable rotary. Although if it does see production, the coupe would likely use a stiffened version of the Miata's chassis, AN reports. Before anyone can place an order, these 50 determined engineers still have a lot of work ahead of them.