Mazda to pair Toyota hybrid tech with rotary power for next RX-8?

As continues to be the case with Mazda's RX-8 successor, new rumors are swirling that suggest creative solutions to the vehicle's powerplant questions.

The very thing that defined the Mazda RX-8 as a fun and unique sports car was ultimately the reason behind the model's cancellation: the rotary engine. Mazda was forced to accept that it was unable (at least at the end of the last-generation RX-8) to produce a rotary engine capable of delivering sufficient power and fuel economy while meeting strict emissions laws.

Now, it appears that Mazda is digging into its partnership bin and pulling out the friend card with Toyota as it reportedly is testing the use of Toyota-developed hybrid technology to be combined with rotary power for the upcoming RX-9. The suggestion comes from a supposed inside source at Mazda speaking with MotorTrend, spilling many details about the future of the brand's hottest offering.

According to the inside source, Mazda still fully intends to bring an RX-8 successor to market, but development of the car has been forced to the back seat while more important volume vehicles such as the next-gen MX-5 have moved to the forefront.

"We want to take the RX-9 [as Mazda is expected to call the next-generation model] to the next level but just can't find the man-hours to do it," said the inside source. "We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we only have a small band of guys working on the RX-9."

The same source says that Mazda has already decided on certain aspects of the car, such as dropping the rear suicide door functionality from the outgoing RX-9 and sticking to a tried and true, lighter coupe design. Also revealed was the suggestion that the next MX-5 will be larger due to the fact that it will share a platform with the next RX-9, although the MX-5 will beat the RX-9 to market by at least a couple years.

What is not quite as clear is what the powertrain will look like, but the suggested plan is to incorporate a Toyota-derived hybrid drive unit that will be used as both a power booster and range-extender for the new 1.6-liter Renesis 16X Wankel rotary engine.

This suggestion may sound wild and extreme, but it isn't far off from a rumor Leftlane reported on in July 2010 that suggested a the next rotary would see the addition of an electric turbocharger for added power.

1.'Mazda RX-9...' view