Ben Custard profile picture Ben Custard a year ago 31

Mazda’s Testing An RX-8 Mule At The Nurburgring And We’re Excited

A YouTube shows a lightly camouflaged RX-8 lapping the famous German circuit. Is this a mule used to test Mazda's new rotary engine?

Remind me later

The Mazda RX-8 limped out of production in 2012 and, since then, we’ve yearned for another rotary engine in a Mazda sports car. Yes, Mazda’s normal cars like the CX-5 and Mazda 3 are very nice, but there’s no high-revving halo sports car. Mazda has teased us for years, but could this be the real deal?

We’re getting a bit excited because this video shows an RX-8 prototype doing testing laps at the Nurburgring, and it’s not the first time such a car has been spied at the track this year. Only the front end is camouflaged, but it’s this that has got our attention. Why would a Mazda RX-8 be partly camouflaged? Although nothing’s confirmed yet, it could be the basis of the Mazda RX-9, if that ever makes it to production.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Mazda has submitted a patent showing a front end suspension design with a small space for the engine behind the wheels. It doesn’t look like there would be room for a conventional engine. But a compact rotary, on the other hand…

Mazda’s Testing An RX-8 Mule At The Nurburgring And We’re Excited - News

Judging by the noise of the RX-8 mule in the video, it’s certainly a high-revving car. It’s a rotary engine, we think, but we’re unsure as to whether it’s a new engine or the standard RX-8 powertrain. If it’s not a new engine, why would engineers be lapping a car that’s at least seven years old?

Before we get carried away, we need to remember that Mazda has yo-yoed about a new rotary sports car to carry on the lineage of the RX-7 and RX-8. It has shown the swoopy RX Vision concept at several motor shows, and then snatched the idea away from our fingertips. Recent developments seem to point at a new rotary sports car in development, so we’ll have to watch this space. Mazda has at least confirmed that it’s bringing rotary engines back as range-extenders for electric vehicles.

For now, though, if anyone needs us today, we’ll be browsing through second-hand RX-8 adverts in the classifieds.