These days Mazda is equally known for what it will do as it is for what it won’t do. It will give us a gorgeous new 2019 Mazda 3; it will not give us a Mazdaspeed3. It’s working on a rotary engine, but no one knows what form it will take or even if it will power a car. I get the realities of the market, but it seems like Mazda executives spend a lot of time managing expectations. Two things we can apparently rule out: a fully electric sports car and something based on the RX-Vision Coupe.
You remember that concept, don’t you? It debuted at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show and it has managed to stay in the popular imagination ever since. And for good reason, too: It’s sleek, clean and aggressive, with perfect classic sports car lines. Everybody wants one. We cannot have one.
That’s from Mazda global chief Akira Marumoto, speaking to Australia’s Drive at the LA Auto Show last week. Marumoto was quick to dismiss rumors, claims and our personal dreams that this stunning concept would become a reality anytime soon:
Despite key executives at the time claiming the car was built to gauge public reaction for a planned revival of an RX coupe, he said the concept was only ever intended to preview the evolution of its Kodo design language that has now become a production reality in the new 3.
“[The] RX Vision is a vision model for design development so we didn’t plan for production or commercialisation of this model,” he said.
“I am receiving this question [whether we can make a rotary engined sports car] maybe 100 times, and I will not commit. That is a dream for all the Mazda executives and employees and it is my job to make employees dream come true, he added, jokingly.
“Nothing has been decided.”
It’s as if he’s saying, “Sorry we faked everyone out with this gorgeous car! Better luck next time.” Oh, Mazda. You break my heart sometimes.
Also off the table, according to Marumoto: A sports car that runs solely on electricity.
Mazda has confirmed, however, that it will introduce a rotary-powered generator as a range-extender - using a small-capacity single-rotor engine to recharge a battery pack - in one of its two upcoming electric vehicles.
Interestingly, Marumoto said Mazda has no desire to produce a purely electric sports car in the future, conceding that battery vehicles are best suited to commuter cars.
“I don’t want to make such car, I prefer the smell of gasoline,” he said.
In general Mazda—a much smaller company than its rivals—has been slow into the electrification game, preferring to maximize efficiency of conventional internal combustion engines as much as possible with its SkyActiv family of technologies. And the latest iteration, SkyActiv-X, is very impressive in what it can do. Right now the rotary engine is mostly being talked about as a range extender for hybrid cars, so it could have some life left on that front.
But I can’t help but think that when Mazda eventually makes its foray into EVs, and it will probably have to sooner or later, the end product will be quite good. It’s hard not to be impressed with Mazda’s latest generation of cars, and I mean that from both a driving dynamics and design perspective.
I just hope the RX-Vision design sees life in some form or fashion. It’s too good to stay a concept forever.