The Furai was developed in partnership with Swift Engineering with some help from petroleum giants BP.
It’s an unearthly, intriguing-looking thing modelled around the chassis of Mazda’s own Courage C65 that raced in the American Le Mans series.
The all-new Furai is a low-slung, lean machine with smooth, sloping lines and a stealthy demeanour.
Following in the wake of the Nagare, Ryuga, Hakaze and the Taiki concepts, the Furai is one of the few concept cars that actually starts up and runs, as was demonstrated at the NAIAS presentation earlier this year.
Like on all the other Nagare models, the Furai features the five-point grille, and the big bold headlamps in the extra-large fenders are a design element carried over from the RX-8.
The wings and the under-tray make prevents any mad swaying and swerving, and the vents and scoops help with the business of keeping the engine and transmission coolers cool.
The air fang, Swift Engineering’s spin on the Furai’s breathing mechanics, helps deposits fresh air into the intake to refresh the rotary engine. The dips and curves in the bodywork make a solid, stable frame, so there’s a good chance we’ll see this one out on the track in time to come.
This latest offering from Mazda is about more than just aesthetics – it’s environmentally conscientious too. The Furai is powered by a mid-mounted Wankel (Mazda’s three-rotor 20B engine) lump running on E100 ethanol and ethanol fuel mixtures.
In fact, it’s the first racing rotary engine to run on ethanol, and that’s pretty spectacular. At full tilt, it puts out a mind-bending 450HP, and as breathless Mazda fans anticipated, it’s really, really quick.
Other car manufacturers may sneer at Mazda’s persistence with the rotary engine, but with this kind of performance and power figures that would rattle bones around tight corners, they have the right idea.
At the Furai’s unveiling, Mazda’s North American Director of Design, Franz von Holzhausen, said that the aim with this concept was to demonstrate Nagare (meaning “flow” in Japanese) as a functional element, and where better to illustrate that point than in motor sports?
The Furai certainly is a breakthrough in automotive design, and it’s definitely going to make waves when it hits the racing circuits in the future. The intention with the Furai, says Von Holhausen, is to blur the lines between race car and road car.
With a name that sounds like “fury” and translates into “sound of wind”, it inspires the emotion of motion that Mazda intended with the Furai.