Why the next-gen Mazda rotary sports car will not be called the RX-9
Image from WSupercars
Honestly, every petrolhead has a sweet spot for rotary engines. I don't really like JDM, but still, the scream of the four-rotor Wankel of the 787B sends chills down my spine. Mazda knows that the want for the next generation rotary sports car is enormous, and it is continually teasing us with a strange mule in the Nurburgring and a recent video regarding the history and the future of the rotary engine. But, here’s the thing. If the next-generation rotary sports car to be the successor to the RX-8 is a thing, it is definitely not going to be called the RX-9.
Image from Autoweek
You might be asking why and must be thinking how terrible I am in math, but sorry, you are wrong this time. As the RX-8 was the successor to the RX-7 and the new rotary model(if happens) will be the successor to the RX-8, it is obvious that the next generation will be called the RX-9. (7+1=8, 8+1=9) But there was a model that even the most avid JDM fans did not know. There was an RX-9.
Image from Minkara.com
To explain what the RX-9 really was, we need to look briefly into Mazda’s executive saloon, known as the Mazda Luce. There are 5 generations of the Mazda Luce, but what we will look into is the LA4 generation. The LA4 series was produced between 1977 and 1981 and was also known as the Mazda 929 in non-Japanese markets. A total of five powertrains were available: the 1.8L I4, 2.0L I4, 2.2L I4 diesel, and the 12A and the 13B Wankel. And as you might have expected, the ones with the Wankel engines were called the RX-9.
The RX-9 was powered by two engines the 12A and the 13B. While the smaller 1.2L 12A was offered from 1977 to 1978, the 1.3L 13B engine was offered from 1977 to 1981. Surprisingly, most of the cars sold were equipped with the 12A engine despite the short selling period, while the 13B engine models are rarer to find. It is known to be produced in all three body types of a 4 door saloon, 4 door hardtop saloon, and a 5 door station wagon.
Therefore, when considering the existence of quite an interesting saloon with a rotary powered engine, it is likely the successor to the RX-8 will not be named the RX-9, if it ever happens. Also, 2020 will be the 100-year jubilee for Mazda, it might be dubbed the RX-10(for 10 decades) or the RX-100. Therefore, there is no real need for Mazda to overlap the RX-9 name when they have even bigger jubilees coming up.
Image from Wheels.ae
At the end of the day…
I have talked about why the RX-9 name will not be used regarding Mazda’s historic lineups. However, we have missed an even more significant point. The RX name itself might never be used again, and let’s admit it, the chances are high. Rotary engines have very low thermal efficiency(spitting flames might look cool, but not that efficient…) and fuel economy, which leads to poor emission.
Image from Mazda
However, I believe that the RX-8 will not be the last rotary Mazda. Mazda’s 100-year jubilee is coming next year, and it is likely that Mazda will announce the finale of the Wankel engine with a limited-production model then. So, you rotary lovers. Enjoy when you can. Grab a nice clean FD when it's possible and enjoy the hell out of it. Just remember to turn down your impulses of swapping it with an LS motor when it faces the ‘usual’ rotary problems XD