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Mazda: the time isn't right for another rotary sports car

by Ronan Glon

Everyone at Mazda dreams of an RX-8 successor, though.

The saga of Mazda's on-again, off-again rotary-engined sports car continues. The model hasn't been confirmed for production, but it hasn't been categorically ruled out, either. What's certain is that we're unlikely to see an RX-8 successor in the near future.

"We are not in a business environment now where we can start building rotary engine vehicles straight away. One of my tasks is to create an environment in which we can make that dream a reality," explained Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto in an interview with trade journal Automotive News.

He added that the project has the enthusiastic support of nearly every Mazda employee. Building another rotary-engined sports car -- an engine type more closely associated with Mazda than anyone else -- is one of the company's dreams. But the coupe market is shrinking all around the globe, so making that dream a reality would require spending a lot of money on a project unlikely to generate significant returns, however.

Marumoto would rather allocate Mazda's resources to developing new technologies like its innovative SkyActiv-X engine, which will make its debut in the next-generation Mazda3, and the rotary-electric hybrid powertrain expected to arrive around the turn of the next decade. And, like almost every company in the industry, it's developing autonomous technology.

It's too early to tell when the time will be right for Mazda to release another rotary-engined sports car. Marumoto's comments suggest the model won't arrive in time to borrow styling cues from the RX-Vision concept (pictured) unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo auto show.

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