But don’t reach for your checkbook just yet. This rotary-powered two-door is not expected to arrive at dealerships until 2017.
According to the company’s sports car chief, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the RX-7’s introduction coincides with the 50th anniversary of Mazda’s first Wankel-powered car, the Cosmo Sport.
The new RX-7 will likely be powered by a naturally aspirated rotary engine, a design favored by Yamamoto. When asked about the possibility of forced induction, he said “at this time it has not been determined. Maybe later in life it will be turbo, but to start with maybe not.” How’s that for a definite uncertainty?
The car could be powered by a version of Mazda’s 16X rotary. This engine was revealed back in 2007 but to date has not been used in any production vehicles. With just 1.6-liters of displacement this little dynamo is capable of delivering 300 metric horsepower, and that’s without a blower.
Speaking of which, Yamamoto is not a fan of turbocharging the RX-7. He said he likes the linear delivery of power afforded by a naturally aspirated engine. Turbos can also cause undesirable throttle lag.
Aside from forced induction there is another intriguing powertrain option on the table. Bob Hall, a former member of Mazda’s product development and design groups, and one of the team members that worked on the second- and third-generations of the RX-7 told AutoGuide “a hybrid makes an enormous amount of sense for a rotary.” He also said it could be “a new kind of hybrid, something we have not yet seen.”
According to Hall, Wankels are perfect for powering electrical generators because they love to run at constant speeds. Even so, Yamomoto does not share his opinion on hybrids, a drivetrain layout he says is unsuitable for sports cars. Still, Hall said “I would not be in any way shape or form surprised if it were a hybrid.”
“The single biggest problem they had with it was fuel economy,” said Hall when asked about Mazda’s recently retired RX-8 sports car. “The RX-8 was better than anything that had come before,” he finished.
But better or not Wankel engines still have some inherent issues. According to Hall “the problem the rotary had is that it’s very sensitive about maintenance.” He said if drivers skipped an oil change or two it could lead to big problems because unlike a piston engine if something breaks “there is no redundancy.” Hopefully Mazda has things figured out with the upcoming RX-7.
Mass is the enemy of any vehicle, especially ones with sporting intentions. To utilize every horsepower to its fullest, the reborn RX-7 will, in the words of Yamamoto, “definitely be lighter” than the last-generation of the car. Internally referred to as the FD, it went out of production in 2002.
While he wouldn’t share any specific numbers he did mention its weight would be similar to the Toyota 86, which is known as the Scion FR-S in North America. It weighs around 2,800 pounds. To hit that target the RX-7 will likely feature aluminum body panels, but don’t look for any carbon fiber. It’s too expensive.
The car is expected to share the same basic architecture as the next-generation MX-5. However, the RX-7 will be larger and heavier than its stable mate, with a longer wheelbase. Versions sold in Western markets will only have two seats, but Japanese models will feature a small back seat.
When asked about the car’s resurrection, Hall, a 12-year veteran of Mazda said “I’m kind of surprised it took them so long,” adding “when Mazda was tied with Ford they had a real albatross around their neck – both Mazda and Ford for that matter.” He also said “[Mazda] had this impression they shouldn’t do it [the RX-7].” According to Hall there was real friction between management at the two companies. But now that they’ve gone their separate ways it appears as though Mazda is free to build a new version of its legendary sports car.
The new RX-7 is expected to go on sale sometime in 2017. As for pricing, Yamamoto hinted the car’s base MSRP will be similar to the Nissan 370Z, which starts at around $33,000.
[Source: The Motor Report]