Mazda RX-Vision concept car spins in to the 2015 Tokyo motor show

Published: 28 October 2015

► Mazda RX-Vision concept car
► A spectactular rotary-engined sports car!
► Suggests an RX-7 revival on cards

Mazda wowed the home crowd with the new RX-Vision concept car at the 2015 Tokyo motor show. It’s a rotary-engined sports car lending substance to rumours that the Japanese are poised to bring back the RX-7 sports car before the end of the decade as a mass-market alternative to the Porsche Cayman.

Powered by a Skyactiv-R rotary petrol engine, it’s proof that Mazda hasn’t given up on its Wankel engineering obsession. Development has continued and the RX-Vision suggests that it could make a comeback in production guise as early as 2017 – a neat half century since it first launched the first rotary-engined model. Manufacturers love a good anniversary, after all; witness the renaissance of the Ford GT supercar to mark the 1966 Le Mans 1-2-3 win. 

Mazda rotary power: a quickie history

The company first sold a rotary engine in the 1967 Cosmo Sport 110S, and reached its sales peak with the popular RX-7 which found 800,000 owners between 1978 and 2002. It even enjoyed success on track, winning the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1991 with the rotary-engined 787B.

The last rotary Mazda, the RX-8 which was pensioned off in 2012, was a pleasingly oddball sports coupe, with suicide doors, a peachy Wankel engine and a penchant for spanking through barrels of oil and spare parts. Mazda must refine its Skyactiv-R application before any comeback – but engineers are confident they can improve the smooth-spinning formula and improve the fuel consumption. A target power output of around 300bhp is likely in production guise, although no specific figures have been issued for the RX-Vision concept car.

Could this point to a Mazda RX-9? We wouldn't bet against it...

The new Mazda RX-Vision concept: in detail

The RX is a classic concept car profile, stretching out the two-door, rear-wheel drive sports car silhouette with a cartoonishly l-o-n-g bonnet and a firmly cab-backwards stance. It’s hunkered down low and at nearly 4.4m long this occupies the same footprint as a Jag F-type, with more than a hint of Italianate proportions. In fact, from some angles you can squint and see a hint of Maserati, not Mazda.

But the classic Mazda grille and light treatments, not to mention the Kodo-style red paint, mean this is all Mazda. And the best news? The company is dropping hints that it’ll build something like this in the years ahead as a slightly smaller, cheaper alternative to the Porsche Cayman and Boxster twins. Top brass at Tokyo have confirmed that rotary power is set to return. And check out the official statement issued today at the Tokyo motor show.

‘An exquisitely proportioned front-engine, rear-wheel drive model, the RX-Vision represents a “vision” of the future that could only come from Mazda,’ the company’s blurb states. ‘And one that countless fans of the brand around the world hope will become a reality.’

They’d surely not tease us like this unless there were tentative plans for production?

Rotary power! The new Mazda RX-Vision concept car

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet