Mazda's most iconic sports car may be set for a comeback

Mazda Vision RXHarold Cunningham/Getty ImagesMazda RX-Vision concept car.

Over the years, Mazda and the Wankel rotary engine have become synonymous with one another.

Now, Japan’s Holiday Auto Magazine is reporting that Mazda’s board approved an all-new RX sports car.

The successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 could be called the RX-9 — a name Mazda trademarked back in 2001.

A Mazda spokesperson declined to comment on future products.

The Japanese publication expects the upcoming RX-9 to be powered by a 395 horsepower, 1.6 litre, twin-rotor version of the company’s next generation SkyActiv-R rotary engine.

At the same time, engineers hope to keep the car’s weight to less than 2,900 lbs.

According to Holiday, Mazda is expected to roll out a concept version of the car at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine with a production version set to debut at the 2019 Tokyo show.

The RX-9 is also expected to the draw heavily upon the stunning RX-Vision concept Mazda unveiled last October at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

Mazda has stuck by the unorthodox engine technology that replaces a traditional internal combustion engine’s pistons and cylinder setup with triangular rotors in chambers when other companies have decided on more conventional tech.

The Hiroshima-based automaker has been without a rotary powered model since it discontinued the RX-8 in 2012.

Mazda RX 8MazdaMazda RX-8.

“The leadership in Japan respects the rotary technology,” Mazda’s senior vice president of US operations Robert Davis told Business Insider at the 2016 New York Auto Show. “It’s part of the soul of Mazda.”

“Rotary engine kept Mazda alive as an independent manufacturer in the 1960s,” Davis said.

Even though driving enthusiast applaud Mazda’s rotary powered sports cars for its velvety-smooth power delivery and perfectly balanced driving dynamics, the cars have also been plagued by lacklustre fuel economy and long-term durability issues.

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