Rumours about the return of the rotary engine had been swirling around the Internet for years before Mazda made it official in January when it unveiled the plug-in hybrid small crossover with a complicated name: MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV. Fast forward to 22 June, mass production of the unusual petrol engine serving as a range extender commenced at home in Japan at the company's Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima.
Coincidentally, the beloved RX-8 went out of production 11 years ago, in June 2012, when the last of the Japan-only 1,000 Spirit R examples was built. To date, the Zoom-Zoom company has assembled 1.99 million vehicles equipped with a rotary engine. Numerous patents have revealed that Mazda hasn't given up on the idea of a new sports car with a rotary engine. However, there's a long way from patenting a technology to putting it into production on a road-going car, so don't get your hopes up too high just yet.
Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV (2023)
At the beginning of the year, the assistant manager of the powertrain development division said the "rotary is our symbol." Yoshiaki Noguchi went on to say a performance application remains "a dream" but added now it's not the right time. Even though the achingly beautiful RX-Vision concept illustrating a rotary-powered sports car is already eight years old, enthusiasts certainly wouldn't mind an identical production version. It did go on sale, but only as a scale model.
Mazda's first rotary engine application was in the 1967 Cosmo Sport 110S with its two-rotor Wankel making 110 bhp. It remains to be seen whether its modern-day equivalent with an 830-cc displacement feeding off of a 50-litre petrol tank will be installed in other models or only the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV will get it. In the crossover, the single-rotor engine producing a mighty 74 bhp has no mechanical connection to the wheels since it acts as a generator.