Tony O'Kane | Aug 19, 2013

When Mazda sports car chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto revealed to TMR late last year that the RX-7 will return in 2017, we were understandably excited.

After all, the promise of a successor to the finely honed last-gen RX-7 had enthusiasts everywhere wet with anticipation. (The post went ballistic on TMR.)

Now, if the leaks reported to be filtering out from inside Mazda are to be believed, its next-gen rotary engine may make it to market slightly sooner than 2017.

Despite the best attempts of many brands, Mazda has been the only one who has achieved true success with the Wankel rotary engine.

However Mazda dropped the rotary from its powertrain portfolio last year, when the RX-8 made its final run down the production line.

It's far from dead though - Yamamoto-san confirmed as much to us when he said the all-new 16X rotary (above) will power the next-generation RX-7. It will, however, be a very different beast to the 13B-MSP that propelled the RX-8 (below).

According to an unnamed Mazda insider quoted in the latest report, the production version of the 16X will not only have 300CC more displacement than the 13B, but will also boast more torque.

This added torque will aid driveability, while fuel economy and oil consumption are also key areas where the 16X is expected to improve over the 13B.

We already know from Yamamoto-san's discussion with us that the new RX-7 will most likely be naturally-aspirated, with a power output in the region of 220kW.

The insider also reportedly said that the 16X will make its debut in a production car in around two years time.

This could mean that either the RX-7 will be revealed two years earlier than expected at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, or that Mazda will be applying the rotary engine to more than one model. Watch this space.

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