For what seems like an eternity, Mazda has constantly teased its most ardent supporters with the possibility that it would resurrect its rotary engine that the automaker made famous in its cars and trucks of the 80s, 90s, and early aughts, like the FD3S Mazda RX-7 that made the engine legendary. With its unconventional combustion method and unmistakable sound, the cult of rotary grew rapidly despite its well documented weaknesses. Apex seals anyone? Ever since the rotary engine fizzled away with the polarizing RX-8 sports car, enthusiasts have been shouting at Mazda to bring it back, and that day is finally coming soon.
Mazda has leveraged that outcry to keep those enthusiasts on the hook. I think we all remember the rotary powered Mazda Furai that Top Gear accidentally burned to a crisp, or the RX-VISION concept car that the automaker filed patents for a couple of years ago. It could be argued that each of those one-off builds were ways to keep the hope and hype of the rotary’s return alive just a bit longer.
The Japanese automaker has revealed that when the new MX-30 SUV makes its debut at the Brussels Motor Show on January 13th, it will have an electric generator powered by a “newly designed” rotary engine. The automaker didn’t specifically say that it would work as a range extender, where the gas engine charges up the electric motor and batteries which then drive the wheels, but it seems highly likely that will be the outcome. So yes, technically Mazda brought the rotary back but we have a feeling that this isn’t what the fanboys and fangirls had in mind.
To be fair, Mazda made it fairly clear that it had such intentions with the rotary way back in 2020. So we can’t necessarily say that this is a shock. Maybe some were holding out for a surprise rotary sports car announcement but at this point we’d say not to hold your breath. When it comes to the new MX-30, Mazda is referring to it as a plug-in hybrid so it is possible that the rotary engine would only serve as a range extender in very specific situations. Though, that is just speculation on our part at the moment. We won’t know more until the official debut next week.
MotorTrend reached out to representatives from Mazda North America to ask if there were any plans to bring the PHEV MX-30 to this side of the pond. The response was that it has “no update to share on the U.S. availability of MX-30 PHEV,” and that it is “currently focused on electrifying our upcoming CX-90 and CX-70 that will debut this year.”
The automaker’s new rotary-inspired hybrid logo also leads us to speculate that this type of generator could find its way into future models. We’ll try to get more information as it comes in but for now we would recommend not devoting much emotional energy to holding out hope for a sporty RX-9 reveal anytime soon.
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