2010 Mazda Shinari ConceptEnlarge Photo
Oh, the horror, the horror.
Once again, the world is coming to an end.
No, not tsunamis, or earthquakes, or tornadoes, or plagues. Not even locusts.
Nope, it's the evil specter of hybrid technology that will conclusively decimate all of mankind, depriving it forever of driving fun, pleasure, and anything else close to godliness.
Or, at least, that seems to be the tone of certain auto writers who are treating the rumor that Mazda might use hybrid-electric drive, paired to its Wankel twin-rotor engine, in the replacement for the slow-selling but pleasantly oddball RX-8 four-door sports coupe.
It's just a rumor at this point, mind you.
Yes, Mazda has licensed Hybrid Synergy Drive technology from Toyota, though their SkyActiv technology for uber-efficient combustion engines and transmission is likely to get them some really nice gas-mileage numbers with nary a battery pack in sight.
But Motor Trend reports that the replacements for the RX-8 coupe and the MX-5 Miata roadster are to be built from the same basic architecture. The styling of the RX-9, as it's being called, is apparently derived from last year's Shinari concept car. So far, so good.
The wailing and breast-beating, the gnashing of teeth and gutteral moaning, begins with the idea that the RX-9's rotary might power the car through a hybrid system derived from the Toyota setup.
So instead of some 300-horsepower monster rotary, we might get a slightly smaller rotary with electric boost.
Yep, that does it. Life is no longer worth living.
Once again, we point out that the nice thing about electric motors is that they generate peak torque at 0 rpm, making their acceleration from rest quite perky.
2010 Mazda RX-8Enlarge Photo
We'd also note that rotary engines are known both for being utter gas hogs and for generating peak power at high revolutions, meaning they would seem--on paper--to provide a very nice complement to the torquey electric motors and the fuel-saving capabilities of a hybrid system.
For reference, the EPA rates the 2011 Mazda RX-8 with the 1.3-liter, twin-rotor engine and six-speed manual at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and a combined 18 mpg. That's ... errr ... not very good.
We're also eager for all cars to deliver better gas mileage, using their fuel more efficiently.
And we're pretty confident that anything with the Mazda label on it will handle a hell of a lot better, and be way more fun to drive, than any "sports hybrid" vehicle we've seen to date.
So we're not planning for the end of the world just yet.
The new RX-9 is rumored to arrive in late 2013, most likely as a 2014 model.