By: IOL Motoring Staff
Tokyo Motor Show - Probably the most unexpected reveal of Japan's premier auto expo is Mazda's RX-Vision sports-car concept.
Because it's powered by a rotary engine - several years after even Mazda admitted that fuel-efficiency and emissions problems had spelled the end of tri-lobal propulsion.
To Mazda engineers, the rotary engine has come to symbolise the Kodo spirit. Even after parent company Toyo Kogyo pulled the plug on RX-7 production they have never stopped working on rotary development.
It's their triumph over both the bean-counters and the politicians. Toyo Kogyo has poured fortunes into rotary development and still doesn't have one that will pass current emissions regulations, while governments all over the world have been trying to legislate it out of existence since the 1973 oil crisis.
They succeeded with two-stroke engines, but rotary cars would still be legal if they were emissions-compliant.
And Mazda says they will be - soon. It has named its next-generation rotary engine SkyActiv-R, as a promise to itself that it will think outside the box to clean up the rotary, just as it cleaned up its piston engines with innovative SkyActiv technology.
The RX-Vision concept is a look into a performance-car future the way Mazda sees it - a front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car with rotary power and signature Kodo proportions emphasising the front wheel-arches, much as Jaguar founder Bill Lyons did on the 1947 XK120 and, before him, Ettore Bugatti with the Type 57 Atlantic.
RX enthusiasts the world over will be hoping it comes to fruition.