Mazda’s Rotary Dreams – RX-Vision
Heart of Mazda The rotary engine is the “Heart of Mazda”, but unfortunately the company does not have a rotary engine in production now and may not in the future. The last rotary engine was in the Mazda RX-8 which was dropped in 2012. The rotary in that car could not meet the tougher emissions standards being adopted around the world, so the car and engine are history for the time being. Today, a group of 50 Mazda engineers continue to try to break the code of rotary engine emissions, fuel economy and reliability – all very tough challenges. With such a small group, likely with a limited budget, it seems like the hope for a rotary engine anytime in the future is dim.
Mazda executives mean it when they say the rotary is the “Heart of Mazda”. Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the Japanese government was thinking of consolidating its automotive industry and Mazda was in the cross hairs. Mazda likely would have been folded into Toyota or Nissan. To demonstrate that Mazda deserved to remain independent the company bought the license for the rotary engine from NSU in West Germany in 1960. Dozens of other companies licensed the technology as well, but Mazda was the only company to successfully bring the engine into production.
RX-Vision That did not, however, prevent Mazda from displaying the RX-Vision concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Widely considered to be the star of the show, the dramatically styled coupe uses a rotary engine to achieve a very low hood height. Using the latest evolution of Mazda’s KODO design language, the RX-Vision has an extremely long hood with the cabin positioned way to the rear. The proportions and scale are surprising from a company like Mazda. In fact, the size and proportions hearken back to the days of the Japanese supercar race with the Toyota Supra, Nissan 350ZX, Mitsubishi 3000GT and the last Mazda RX-7. That was an era when each Japanese company was trying to out-do the other with higher and higher spec sports cars.
The RX-Vision is a sculpture in “soul red” a paint developed to accentuate the flowing lines of the car. Made to take advantage of shadow depth the color is vivid and head-turning. The color also makes the car almost impossible to photograph and even the professional shots used here don’t do the RX-Vision justice. It is a strikingly beautiful concept that likely will never see the light of day – at least in its present form.