It’s been decades and there is still no car like Mazda’s triple-rotor Eunos Cosmo, a vehicle more ambitious, more foolish and more amazing than many cars made since.
(Full Disclosure: Our friends at Duncan Imports invited us to their shop in Virginia for a week to drive some of their finest wares. They’re extremely good folks with a mind-blowing selection of import cars, so check them out if you’re in the market.)
Welcome back to our new video series Bubble Cars! Let’s Go!, where we test some of the finest and weirdest cars of Japan’s automotive golden age. This is a little bonus episode we grabbed in between other shoots because, well, you don’t skip a chance to drive a Cosmo.
Let me get you up to speed on this one. In the 1980s, Japan’s economy was booming, and it looked like it would never slow down. While carmakers rushed to build incredible feats of engineering for the ultra-competitive home market, they also turned their attention on super luxury cars for export.
On one hand, these offered high profit margins and were a way around import restrictions put in place by foreign governments like, oh right, America. On the other hand, they were also incredible image projects and there is no way pride did not factor into their over the top, over-engineered designs. This is the age of the Lexus LS400, the Acura NSX, and... not the Eunos Cosmo.
You see, we never got the Eunos Cosmo in America because the luxury brand that Mazda planned to bring here got cancelled as the entire Japanese economy collapsed just after it was publicly announced.
We were going to get a V12 luxury sedan and its companion coupe was rumored to be this. It’s a gigantic coupe that rides smoother than anything short of a Rolls-Royce, quieter than anything short of a Tesla, and with an engine so bold that no other car maker has ever attempted to produce one since.
This is a triple-rotor engine, the only one ever put into production. It was a 2.0-liter twin-turbo unit supposedly good for about 300 horsepower. Mazda’s rotaries are known for being big on horsepower, small on low-end torque. Not this one. It pulls on the highway with more shove than you’d expect. It does not feel slower than a Supra of its day, though like several cars we drove from this era, it is hampered somewhat by its now-archaic four-speed automatic transmission.
This is also the first production car with sequential twin turbos, and it’s also the first car with GPS. In the Star Trek: TNG-grade interior you could get a touchscreen as well. The example we drove oddly had neither available, but it was still shockingly good to drive.
I wanted to change my whole life for this car. I wanted to start dressing better, being better to those around me every time I laid into the throttle, revs climbing up that wraparound dash.
It’s not just that it was a good car, this is a better car than all of the cars it competed with, and it’s still nicer than most new cars today, with tech and refinement to match them.
That it came from a company as small as Mazda is absolutely unreal.