Ever since the Mazda RX-8 went out of production, and even before then, rumors of a rotary-powered successor have refused to die. That’s, of course, partly because Mazda keeps reminding us that it has a dedicated team of engineers working on a way to sell a rotary-powered sports car that can both turn a profit and pass emissions tests. Most recently, Mazda said its next rotary sports car wouldn’t come until after 2020. But these photos seem to suggest it’s rotary development has at least taken a step forward.
It’s difficult to say for sure that this RX-8 is definitely an RX-9 mule, but we’ll at least say it’s likely. As you can see, the front end has been modified for additional cooling that we’re not sure a regular RX-8 would need. Also, while we couldn’t find a car wearing this exact plate, Mazda’s prototypes do tend to wear HG DC plates in Europe.
Unfortunately, assuming this actually is an RX-9 mule, it’s still got a long way to go before we see anything with production intent. And even if it’s testing a rotary powertrain, Mazda could easily scrap the project long before it goes on sale. At the same time, this is the first hint we’ve encountered that the RX-9 project is actually seeing some success. Sure, Mazda’s said several times that it’s working on a new rotary engine, but that could have also been nothing but PR spin on the rotary range extender that we’ll see soon.
Still, we’re choosing to believe that this mule is a positive sign. Long live the rotary engine, and long live Mazda’s rotary-powered sports cars.
Photo Source: CarPixPossibleMazdaRX-9MuleCaughtTesting