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Mazda brings back the rotary engine with RX-Vision

Mazda Motor Corp. has shaken the dust off its mothballed rotary engine and packaged it into a futuristic-looking sports car with old-fashioned underpinnings.

The RX-Vision, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive roadster. Stylistically, with its low lines, long hood and short tail section, it owes something to Ferrari and something to Corvette.

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The company said nothing about horsepower, torque or availability in making the unveiling.

But the RX-Vision could be the prescription for a big brother to the recently refreshed Mazda Miata, a small-scale MX-5 roadster that has charmed the auto press with a return to its simple sports car roots.

Mazda brought forth the then-revolutionary rotary Wankel engine in 1963, using the Tokyo Motor Show to unveil a rotary-engine Cosmo. In subsequent years, Mazda put many of the rotary engines in its RX series of sports cars, notably its RX-7, and developed turbo-charged versions putting out impressive horsepower.

The company retired the engine three years ago, when it sent the 2012 RX-8 into dry dock. Since then, the automotive news outlets have blogged periodically about the return of a new rotary-engine sportster, with some authors predicting a 2017 model year vehicle with that power plant.

Mazda executives said last year that the company would launch no new RX without a rotary engine.

The "zoom-zoom" company also used the Tokyo Motor Show to show off a concept crossover vehicle, the Koeru. The five-seater offers what press material called "power, vitality and a new level of polished refinement."

In other words, it could well be a bigger and more luxurious sibling to the company's CX-5 and CX-7 SUVs.

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