But there's no rotary engine in sight this time around.
Mazda has been riding a wave of success in 2021: not only was it named the best car brand of 2021 but it has also been developing some exciting new models such as the Mazda CX-5. Despite rumors of a rotary revival, the brand has refrained from dwelling on its legendary past, but in a surprising turn of events, has decided to revive the iconic Spirit name. 'Spirit' featured on some of Mazda's most-loved rotary performance cars, including the very last RX-8 Spirit R. But, the revival doesn't accompany a new sports car as, for now at least, the name will stay in the JDM market and will be confined to Mazda's more pedestrian offerings. These include the Mazda 3 and CX-30 crossover.
The famous moniker will be plastered on vehicles sporting a factory-backed retune of the 1.8-liter turbodiesel engine. It will be known as the 'Spirit Upgrade D1.1'. According to Mazda, the retune improves throttle response from 3,000-4,500 rpm, improves fuel economy, and also comes with a healthy power boost from 114 horsepower to 128 hp. The price of this upgrade is $420 at the current exchange rate. The Mazda 3 and Mazda CX-30 fitted with the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-X engine enjoy similar upgrades, but with a focus on efficiency, and misses out on the Spirit branding.
Hardcore Mazda fans will fondly remember the glory days of the Spirit name, its crowning glory being the 2002 RX-7 Spirit R which was the final form of this classic JDM sports car with only 1,500 being manufactured exclusively for the Japanese market. The RX-7 Spirit R featured a twin-turbo twin-rotor engine, special Bilstein dampers, 17-inch BBS wheels, ventilated brakes, and a set of sought-after Recaro bucket seats. The less successful Mazda RX-8 also wore the name in 2011 but failed to garner the same respect. The recently trademarked 'R' logo most likely feature on Mazda's upcoming range of rotary-powered hybrid vehicles. Maybe someday the true Spirit will rise from its extended slumber.