While things have been fairly quiet lately regarding 's rotary-powered sports car, the , we have confirmation from various sources in Japan that Mazda is indeed working on the next-generation rotary engine dubbed the 16X. There are reports that Mazda's rotary engine development team has grown from 30 members to 60 in the last year, meaning that the Hiroshima-based company is quite serious about a new Wankel. The 16X will be much more fuel-efficient than the current Renesis rotary engine, and will probably be named the SKY-R, part of the company's new generation of lean-burning engines called the SKY Series.
The SKY-R will most likely have displacement increased by about 300 cc from the current 1.3-liter 2-rotor Wankel. Insiders say that squeezing 300 bhp from the new engine would be a breeze, but Mazda is making fuel economy a high priority so you can expect output south of that figure. Also, we heard that the engine will feature some form of assist, though we're not certain exactly what that will be. It may be an electric motor, making the next RX-8 a mild hybrid car.
The styling of this next-generation rotary sports car will be based on the Shinari concept vehicle that was shown last summer in Italy. Therefore, the production version will look more upscale than the current RX-8, prompting rumors that Mazda is thinking of calling it the RX-9 to differentiate it from the current car, which hasn't proved very popular. Expect Mazda's flagship sports car to make its debut sometime in 2014.