According to a number of international reports, Mazda is currently developing the next-generation in its rotary-powered sports cars. Called the Mazda RX-9, inside word has it it will be powered by a hybrid rotary engine developed in part by Toyota.
A report from Motor Trend in the US says the electric motor section of the hybrid setup could be borrowed from Toyota, thanks to an agreement signed by manufacturers last year. Even though it will be a hybrid, the RX-9 will be powered predominately by a proper petrol-powered rotary unit.
Reports say the electric element will simply offer an extended range on the rotary engine and offer power boosts much like the KERS setup on Formula One cars. It's expected batteries for the electric motor will be recharged during deceleration and provide extra power, on top of the rotary engine, when the driver desires maximum acceleration.
Don't get too excited just yet though, Mazda insiders have apparently said the Mazda RX-9 project has been put on hold a number of times. Insiders say Mazda is more concerned with the next-generation MX-5 and is concentrating on Mazda SkyActiv technology. Mazda is hoping SkyActiv technology will help bolster the company's target of reducing its showroom vehicle emissions by 30 percent. A company insider told Motor Trend recently,
"We want to take the RX-9 to the next level but just can't find the man-hours to do it. We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we only have a small band of guys working on the RX-9."
When it does eventuate though, the RX-9 will be a strict two-door coupe, unlike the RX-8 which uses small reverse-hinge access doors for rear passengers. It's said the RX-9 will offer proportions much like the old Mazda RX-7 sports cars, being lighter and smaller than the RX-8 (rumour has it the car will be developed on the same platform as the next-generation Mazda MX-5, which gives an indication of its size).
As for styling, no images have been released yet but the RX-9 is likely to take on the design language seen on the Mazda Shinari Concept, offering flowing panel contours, sharp lines and angled creases; overall a stunning piece of automotive art. We certainly hope the new model will take much of its inspiration from the concept.
The Mazda RX-9 release has been hinted towards 2013. We'll keep you updated though.