Mazda rotary powertrains are set for a comeback, but not in the way that many of us had hoped for…

When we first saw the announcement below, our eyes lit up. There, right before us, lay the words, “Rotary engine reborn”.

“A new RX sportscar?!”, we dreamed. But then we kept reading…


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Rotary power is indeed making a comeback, but apparently not as a full-on powertrain in its own right. Instead, it seems that Mazda is reincarnating its rotary technology as a nifty form of hybrid range extension. Check out our guide to Wankel Rotary engines to learn all about how they work.

As that Instagram post suggests, the Mazda MX-30 electric crossover will be the first model to benefit from additional ‘dorito’ power, with the new MX-30 R-EV set to debut at the Brussels Motor Show on Friday January 13th.

While that news might not be particularly exciting to the average car enthusiast, we can certainly see the merit in it. Although the MX-30 looks quite cool (at least as far as crossover SUVs go), it’s always been hamstrung by its pitiful 124-mile range. In fact, in the real world, you’d be lucky to hit triple figures in it. So, by adding a little bit of rotary assistance to the MX-30, its long-distance usability (and therefore, consumer appeal) is likely to increase significantly.

A side profile of the Mazda MX-30

Will Rotary Sports Cars Return?

Anyway, for those of you who wish for a successor to the Mazda RX-7 and RX-8 of old, this news perhaps shouldn’t be as disappointing as it first appears.

The simple fact of the matter is that new combustion-only powertrains are a thing of the past. With widespread legislation coming into place in less than a decade, there’s no reasonable economic case that can be made for investing millions into engine development, only for the result to go on sale for just a year or two. It’d be a masterclass in how to sell products at a crippling loss.

Instead, if we want there to be a future that involves a new Mazda rotary sports car, perhaps a hybrid EV with rotary range extender is the way to go. Mazda themselves are reluctant to ditch combustion entirely, so it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that they’ll seek to make the most of their wankel party piece while they still can. If anything, us enthusiasts should be heartened that Mazda has found a way to incorporate rotary power into its electrified future.

The Mazda RX Vision concept in a conference studio.

Sporty Mazda Concepts

Besides, they’ve flirted with the idea of a new RX performance model plenty of times. In 2015, there was the gorgeous RX Vision concept which made its way onto the Gran Turismo gaming platform (click here for news about the upcoming Gran Turismo movie). Then, as recently as last year, Mazda quietly revealed a digital render of a sleek coupe, designated the name ‘Vision Study’.

Overall then, it’s clear that Mazda hasn’t forgotten its performance models of yesteryear, but making an economic case for building a new one has proven tricky. Now though, perhaps this rotary hybrid range extender tech will provide the opportunity that they’ve been looking for…

In the meantime, we expect to hear more details about the Mazda MX-30 R-EV later this week. So, if any interesting rotary revelations pop up, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.