Mazda is still keen to do it though.
Rumors of a new Mazda rotary-engined car seem to arrive at least twice a year. It's reached a point where the more cynical among us wonder if Mazda does it deliberately to keep its brand in the news. However, despite the fact a rotary-engined car would be hard to bring to market and the lukewarm reception of Mazda's last rotary-powered car, it seems Mazda would still like to build one. The problem, it appears, isn't the engineering but rather the public's perception. In an interview with Carsguide at the Tokyo Auto Show, Mazda chief designer Ikuo Maeda spoke on the subject.
"I don't know if we are having an RX-8 replacement, we have to see what the society thinks of that and what the environment is like in terms of accepting the idea of a sports car," he told the publication, his eyes reportedly lighting up at the subject.
He is right as well; we live in a time when sensitivity is high about the environment, and every automaker is responding to it, including Mazda.
"I understand that the clock is ticking and that the environment constantly changes, and we have to see if the current and future environment would be able to accept a sports car with open arms," he expanded, which would explain why the rotary engine's return will most likely be as a generator for a hybrid vehicle.
If having a new dedicated sports car would be seen as unfavorable, Mazda won't build one. While Mazda's people are clearly enthusiasts, it is a global business, and the MX-5 is already a well defined and inoffensive car that's been around for decades already. That doesn't stop Mazda from being optimistic though.
"If you look at the range that we have in product currently, I think we can say the Mazda 3 hatch is quite fitted or suited to that kind of sporty vehicle," he said. What that means for the mild-hybrid sports coupe concept, we don't know.