A digital artist has envisioned what the RX-8's replacement could look like under the skin.
Fans of the rotary engine have been waiting for an RX-7 follow-up for some time. Sorry, but the RX-8 didn't count. We haven't seen a rotary product from the brand in a decade but the Japanese manufacturer has been keeping the technology alive in the hopes that the spinning engine will have global market relevance yet again. The RX-Vision was teased to us as the official successor but that was in 2015, and the only sports car we get is still the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Just a few weeks ago though, we discovered a series of patent images that depicted a 48-volt hybrid motor designed to link to a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform. The patents also show us a connection system that would be applied to a triple-rotor engine, but how could these technologies be integrated? One digital artist has envisioned a way.
A digital rendition by Rotor & Shaft portrays what this powertrain could look like if it was applied to the chassis of the RX-Vision. The model depicted here makes use of an all-wheel-drive layout with motors located at the front and the center of the layout, going against the wheel-mounted design as depicted by the patents. These would be powered by a supercapacitor that sources energy via a regenerative braking system.
The designer has also added two lithium-ion battery packs to power the main electric motor at the front. Contradicting the patent's spaceframe shell, the rendition features a carbon fiber monocoque. This is so the sportscar can benefit from a lower mass but should this be applied to a production-ready example, it would raise the price by a substantial amount.
At the head of this layout is a naturally aspirated triple rotary engine. With the engine and electric motors mated together, the artist anticipates a combined power output figure of 610 horsepower with the rotary engine developing 380 hp on its own.
To put the design together, the artist maintained the shell of the RX-Vision but applied the RX-8's Renesis engine. The torque tube and space frame was sourced from Aston Martin, and the transaxle from the Ferrari 599. The LaFerrari acts as a donor for the battery packs while the carbon monocoque is taken from the McLaren P1. Obviously, Mazda would be a lot more economical in its sourcing of parts, most of which would be in-house, but it's exciting to see that there is a real case for the rotary.