With the demise of the Mazda6 sedan, it seemed like the Japanese automaker was ready to join the growing club of manufacturers migrating to an all-SUV line-up. But, not so fast. As media colleagues in Japan have discovered, Mazda has filed patent renderings strongly suggesting it is working up plans for a new sports coupe.
And those who follow the Hiroshima-based automaker could, with a little effort, recognize what Mazda appears to be working on. They closely resemble the shape of the sexy RX-Vision concept the company rolled out way back in 2015.
It’s not uncommon for automakers to tip their hats when it comes to future products. We’ve posted a number of stories in recent years referencing new trademark applications. That includes a filing that helped confirm Ford’s plan to bring out the Maverick pickup. But patent renderings are far more detailed and tend to suggest that the automaker has specific plans in mind, rather than just wanting to save this space.
It’s all in the details
In this case, the patent filings found by Taku2-4855 and posted by IPForce.jp offer extensive renderings and details about what Mazda is working on. You can click that link to get even more details.
What’s shown is the underlying structure of the vehicle, which uses a sporty aluminum spaceframe design. A second image also shows what appears to be the sports coupe’s powertrain layout. And here’s where plenty of questions are likely to pop up.
There are plenty of fans that would like to see Mazda bring back the iconic rotary engine. Indeed, Mazda officials have spent years searching for an opportunity to use a Wankel. They seemed all set for a revival with the new MX-30, Mazda’s first battery-electric vehicle that is set to come to the U.S. in 2022. It was supposed to serve as a range-extender, providing additional current once the MX-30’s lithium-ion battery pack was drained. But Mazda confirmed last month that it had scrubbed the idea of a range-extender option.
It did, however, leave open the idea a rotary could still show up in a future plug-in hybrid. Could this be it?
The renderings of the new sports coupe show a rear-wheel-drive layout using a 48-volt system. But the front motors, according to some interpretations, also appear to be using in-wheel electric motors. That might seem a good fit for a rotary. On the other hand, a new RX-Vision-based sports coupe might simply go with the new inline-6 engine Mazda has been developing.
Another obvious question is how Mazda could today justify coming up with a new sports coupe? If it can’t make a go of the four-door Mazda6, it would seem unlikely there’d be enough demand to support a sports coupe in today’s sport-utility market. The good news is the platform in use here would have enough flexibility to be able to underpin future crossover models, as well.
While it doesn’t use the old catchphrase, “Zoom-Zoom,” anymore, sporty products are a hallmark of the little Japanese brand. It may see the need for a coupe, even if demand is marginal. And it could support that product with the bigger sales of a utility vehicle sharing most of its key components.
Adding a Wankel engine would truly turn it into a distinctive Mazda halo car. But expecting this to signal the return of the rotary is probably more about wishful thinking than practical reality, at this point.