2006 Mazda Kabura Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

The rotary rumormill continues to spin about as fast as a Renesis engine at redline (that's 9,000 rpm, for those keeping track). Might the next rotary-powered RX from Mazda be a hybrid? It very well may, if you believe a report from Motor Trend.

Lending credence to the story is a 2010 agreement signed between Mazda and Toyota that would have the Zoom-Zoom company licensing the technology that makes the Prius tick. At the time, Mazda indicated that its first hybrid using Toyota technology would hit the market in 2013. Will it be in the form of an RX-9?

Motor Trend reports that the successor to the RX-8 will eschew reverse-opening rear doors for a standard coupe format with an architecture based on the platform of the next-gen Mazda MX-5. If true, we may be talking about the world's first real rear-wheel-drive hybrid sportscar for the mass market.

It's worth noting that a hybrid powertrain may very well cure what has forever ailed the rotary engine: low torque (electric motors make gobs of the stuff at low rpm) and high fuel consumption. We like the idea of Mazda forging forward with the rotary engine, especially one that's tuned to make a ton of horsepower at stratospheric spinning speeds like a proper rotary should.

One potential weakness, though, is that Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology uses a complicated continuously variable automatic transmission, and those have typically failed to provide the excitement of a proper row-for-yourself manual gearbox, or even a dual-clutch. In any case, we're content to adopt a wait-and-see attitude on this latest rumor.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 50 Comments
      Dapper_Otter
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've long thought that a rotary engine would be perfect for a hybrid drivetrain. Let's see if Mazda can make this interesting.
      answerinmachine3
      • 3 Years Ago
      After all of the shared work between Ford and Mazda, I would have that that they would have perhaps used Ford's system instead of Toyota's. But Mazda is its own company and can do what they want in the end.
        tomtom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @answerinmachine3
        That is my question since Ford and Toyota use very similar tech and Mazda had used Fords hybrid system in the past.
        mikes
        • 3 Years Ago
        @answerinmachine3
        If anyone cares to remember, Ford had to license hybrid tech from Toyota originally because the designs and solutions they came up with were so similar. So most likely, Mazda is borrowing from Ford but because of similarity to Toyota's tech, they need to have an agreement with Toyota.
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @mikes
          False, Ford does not use Toyota's system. I was at a Ford press event at their proving grounds in 2009 that made this abundantly clear.
          tomtom
          • 3 Years Ago
          @mikes
          I remember. http://green.autoblog.com/2009/07/03/once-more-with-feeling-ford-does-not-use-the-toyota-hybrid-syst/
          oRenj9
          • 3 Years Ago
          @mikes
          Toyota and Ford both license technology from one-another due to patent issues.
      You guy
      • 3 Years Ago
      It'd have to be a hybrid to return decent gas mileage numbers. I've had three friends with RX cars, and the newest, RX-8 got horrendous gas mileage (A WRX gets better mileage than his RX-8). The only thing *great* about an RX is the handling. (But... the last gen RX-7 was a sexy beast). Also why does the cockpit scream Fairlady?
      CarSnaab
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hmm, I don't place much credibility in MT rumors. Just about as much as The Truth About Cars investigative journalism. A hybrid rotary does sound interesting, but I wonder how a battery pack will affect handling. Whatever the solution, I'm rooting for Mazda. If they made a 6spd manual wagon, I'd be buying from them too!
        Hazdaz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @CarSnaab
        Yeah, but remember that the batteries can be placed just about anywhere within the car - so if they want to increase weight for the rear wheels (since one would assume it would be RWD), they can put some over the rear axle. And if its truly a RX-8 successor and is only a 2-seater, then they don't have to worry about making room for a backseat.
        NightFlight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @CarSnaab
        They've got the 3 with a six speed. While its not exactly a true wagon, it has a lot of utility.
      Skylar Ross Toups
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sad.com/NoThanksForTheTip An electric motor could complement the rotary well, given it's smoothness, and steady power curve. Could help boost low end torque too. That is, as long as it only assists, and doesn't take over.
      QAZZY
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why this is a bad idea: 1) This concept is ugly. Unrelated, but wanted to put it out there. Give it the current Mazda 'smile'. I like it. 2) A CVT in a sports car? That's funny. 3) Batteries are heavy. As the Chevy Volt proves, several hundred pounds of batteries gets you... 30 miles. So does one gallon of gas. I do realize the Volt doesn't deplete the whole battery though. Anyways, batteries = heavy. Heavy =/= good sports car. Why this is a good idea: 1) Rotary engine mileage sucks. Hybrid = better mileage. 2) Rotary engine torque sucks. Electric motor = more torque. 3) Rotary engines are small, so you have more space for batteries.
        Hazdaz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @QAZZY
        The Prius weighs in at just over 3000 lbs which is LESS than most other cars in its size category (slightly less than mid-sized, but bigger than most compacts). So this idea that "batteries = heavy" is nonsense because if the vehicle is designed with hybrid technology in mind from day-one, it doesn't necessarily need to weigh any more than a "normal" car.
          nardvark
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          Given the terrible driving dynamics of the Prius, I'd say they had to compromise something by replacing real body structure and suspension components with battery weight/space.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          The upcoming Prius v (wagon) is actually LIGHTER than Jetta SportWagen TDI. Prius v has more interior space as well. 44 MPG vs. 33 MPG (auto TDI).
      ShutoSteve
      • 3 Years Ago
      None of this is important. What's important is that Mazda do something that alot of companies refuse to do, and listen to their fanbase, and bring back the RX-7. Hell, they would barely have to redesign the E-FD3S - Look at how well it's design has stood up. I'm sorry, it's likely been said countless times before, but bring back the 7. That's what's important to us.
        Curtis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ShutoSteve
        Why? The rx-7 was a great car, it had a great run, but it's run has long been over. Mazda needs to keep with the numeric scheme and keep the numbers going up, the next rx will be the 9, and after that the 10, and after that the 11, I assume you get where I'm going with this. If it's a 2 door wankle powered sports car, what difference will it make if it has a 7 or a 9 on the end of it's name?
          EB110Americana
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Curtis
          I think you totally missed the point of ShutoSteve's comment. I'm pretty sure they could call it the RX-Miyagi5000, as long as it's a light, lowslung, 2-seater sportscar, he'd be happy. The name isn't as important as the RX-8's departure from that formula. Personally I like both cars, but wish the power to fuel economy ratio was much higher.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hm, this could actually be cool. The electric motor in a hybrid system can pack a massive low-rpm torque punch if designed correctly. Hopefully they get it right.
      Darren McLellan
      • 3 Years Ago
      To me, the term borrow means to give it back at some point. Hows that work?
        Indefinite Implosion
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Darren McLellan
        bor·row verb /ˈbärō/  /ˈbôrō/ 3. Take (a word, idea, or method) from another source and use it in one's own language or work - the term is borrowed from Greek - designers consistently borrow from the styles of preceding generations http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&q=borrow&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=myzcTfvZNcyu8QPDncTrDw&sqi=2&ved=0CBgQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=48415b2036907b30
          Indefinite Implosion
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Indefinite Implosion
          p.s. Why doesn't this commenting system make links active? It's stupid and I'm sick of having to open a new tab, and then copy links into the URL bar.
          JohnQPublic
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Indefinite Implosion
          yeah, I'm sure link spammers like your idea as well :)
      Seph
      • 3 Years Ago
      They should have instead borrowed Honda's IMA than the toyota's synergy drive.. Synergy drive is really effective for slow cars, but not for fast cars... Honda IMA is the way to go, it'll even give the RX-9 a high torque at low rpm rate...
        nardvark
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Seph
        What cars are there powered by IMA that you wouldn't call a "slow car?" Only thing I can think of is the old Accord V6 hybrid, and that had a short life.
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @nardvark
          I know two people who have Accord Hybrids and they refuse to get rid of them. Both claim they are the best vehicle they've ever owned. I still see them all over the place in Northern VA. Honda would have been better off if they added the IMA to the I4 instead of the V6, but it made the thing an absolute rocket.
      Compliance
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lets marry this rumor with the other longstanding rumor about the next RX car. What if the hybrid generated power does not drive the wheels? E l e c t r i c D r i v e n S u p e r c h a r g e r.
        EB110Americana
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Compliance
        I was thinking the same thing. I can't wait for the first manufacturer to employ this. In fact, since the drivetrain in the RX is so light and compact, it could afford the space for both an electric motor and the electric supercharger. Hopefully the battery is small enough that it doesn't rob the RX of its definitive lightness.
      EnzoHonda
      • 3 Years Ago
      Unless Mazda has figured out some new way to make rotary engines, this isn't going to be great. Why? Because, like the CR-Z, the fuel economy/performance ratio will disappoint. Hybridizing an RX car just turns the economy from "horrendous" to "acceptable." RX-8s were getting 18-20 MPG. This won't get 30 like the V6 Mustang or similar competitors. No matter how much I like the RX cars, the fact remains that the engines have always been the weakest link.
        Compliance
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EnzoHonda
        If you think the engine is the weakest link you obviously do not like RX cars. The rotary is the best part!
        xxxZOMBIExxx
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EnzoHonda
        Mazda has been working on improving the rotary engine...Its called the 16X and Mazda has been developing and testing it for almost a decade....
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