Mazda RX-9 test mule spotted?

Words: Nile Bijoux
8 Dec 2017

Mazda’s RX-8 was the last car to sport a rotary engine and was discontinued back in 2012. Since then rumours have refused to die about a new rotary-powered sports car, although nothing has come of it.

Last we heard, Mazda had relegated the rotary engine to range-extender duties for electric cars. Theoretically the rotary is ideal for this, due to its compact dimensions, high power output and minimal vibration, but it’s not exactly what enthusiasts want to hear.

Recently spy photographers spotted a black RX-8 test mule out and about near the Nürburgring, which seems strange, until you realise there are big radiators sitting behind the intakes at the front and extra scoops directed toward other parts of the engine. Nothing else can really be gleaned from the spy shots, with the rest of the car looking like a regular black RX-8. 

Whether or not this is an RX-9 mule based on the shots is unclear but Mazda has previously said it is working on a new rotary called Skyactiv-R. However, what application that eventually takes is unknown and there are conflicting theories. Making the rotary comply with modern fuel economy and emissions goals, and not shooting flames seems a tough mountain to climb.

Whatever happens, expect nothing on the production rotary front until at least 2020 when Mazda celebrates its centenary.

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