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Mazda Working on Rotary-Powered RX-9

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On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 4:19PM | By: Chris Weiss

Mazda Working on Rotary-Powered RX-9

News of the loss of the RX-8 earlier this year had to be a hard-hitter for rotary fans. I mean, what else do you have really? That news hit hard when it was reported that Mazda is planning on phasing the RX-8 out after its rotary engine failed to meet environmental standards. 2011 is expected to be the last model year for the RX-8.

That news, however, was from a few months ago. Today, we have better news. The latest word is that Mazda is well into the development process behind a new rotary engine. This one will be both more eco-friendly and more powerful. And it will be dropped in a new sports coupe tentatively called the RX-9.

The RX-9 will lose the suicide doors of the RX-8, going for a proper coupe profile. It will take its inspiration more from the last-generation RX-7 than from the current RX-8, and will be seated on the same platform as the next-gen MX-5. It will weigh around 2,750 lbs.

Called the 16X, the new rotary engine will be significantly larger than the 2.6-liter model currently used in the RX-8 and is expected to put out around 300 horses. It will benefit from an electric supercharger and Mazda is even considering making it a hydrogen-run car as a nod to the green sector. Personally, I don't see them taking a car as classic and sporty as the RX-7/RX-8 and making it a green centerpiece, but who knows.

The new engine is reportedly 30 percent more efficient than the RX-8 version, boasting similar cleanliness to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

Unfortunately, there's no word on when we might see the RX-9 debut. Mazda has said that the 16X engine is still years away from completion, though, so it doesn't look like that debut is anytime soon. At least not in production skin.

On the positive side, Mazda is said to be aiming at making the RX-9 an everyman's sports car rather than an all-out performance (and wallet-draining) machine in the vein of the Nissan GT-R or Lexus LF-A. It's always nice to have another down-to-earth sports car option, especially when it bears the distinction of the market's only rotary engine.


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