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The rotary-engined Mazda sports car isn’t dead yet

Mazda’s on-again, off-again next-generation rotary-engined sports car has finally been given the green light for production, according to a new report.

The long-awaited successor to the RX-8 will likely adopt the RX-9 nameplate, and, like every RX-badged car Mazda has ever produced, it will land with a Wankel-type rotary engine. Industry rumors indicate it will use a twin-rotor unit with a displacement of 1.6 liters fitted with a turbocharger. Interestingly, it could also feature homogeneous-charge compression ignition (HCCI), which means it will use compression to ignite the air-fuel mixture in lieu of spark plugs.

If the rumors are accurate, the RX-9 will boast the most advanced rotary engine to date. It gets better, too. The twin-rotor will generate at least 400 horsepower in its most basic state of tune, yet the RX-9 will tip the scale at just 2,866 pounds. And while transmission options remain unconfirmed, the gearbox will be mounted over the rear axle in a transaxle configuration to help give the coupe a 50/50 weight distribution.

The RX-9 won’t simply be a toned-down version of the stunning RX-Vision concept (pictured) that debuted last year in Tokyo. Insiders have revealed the production model will be much shorter than the RX-Vision, and its design will be characterized by trim overhangs on both ends, resulting in a more sculpted look.

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Japanese magazine Holiday Auto has learned that Mazda will preview the RX-9 with a close-to-production concept during next year’s edition of the Tokyo Auto Show. The production model will be introduced two years later at the same event, and it will go on sale a year later to coincide with the Japanese company’s 100th anniversary. Pricing will start at under eight million yen, a sum that represents about $80,000 at the current conversion rate.