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Zoom-Zoom for Years
Mazda-mania just happened over the weekend, with a record setting 683 Miatas parading in Lelystad, Netherlands. The sight of so many Mazda enthusiasts jogged our foggy memories, and helped us to remember our own personal connections with the brand, as well as some of the greatest Mazda’s of all time.
Perhaps best known for the MX-5 Miata, Mazda has done a lot more than make small roadsters. In an era when many said the small Japanese automaker would have to partner with a bigger industry player, Mazda (as usual) took the road less traveled, engineering new chassis, new engines and an attractive new design language. Combined, it has surprised with an excellent new lineup of vehicles, like the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5.
Much of that same philosophy and attitude has led Mazda to offer up some impressive models over the years, making the world stand up and take notice. Take a look at this top 10 of the greatest Mazdas over the years, and be sure to pipe in with your own favorites.
A new year is around the corner, and with every new year comes change. Numerous new models will be added to dealerships across the country, while for 2012 many other models will disappear.
From the Mazda RX-8 to the Honda Element, there are quite a few vehicles we’re going to miss and hope that successors come our way. Other models that caught our interest that will be disappearing from production include the Volvo V50, Cadillac DTS, BMW X6 ActiveHybrid and Ford‘s good ‘ol Ranger.
And at the list of not-so-interesting, but worth mentioning are the Mitsubishi Endeavor, Mazda Tribute, Chevrolet HHR and Ford’Crown Victoria. Oh yeah, and as we mentioned before, Tesla’s Roadster will be gone too.
During a press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda‘s global chief, Takashi Yamanouchi said that a rotary powered MX-5 is a possibility down the road; he also went onto say that the company might consider merging its two separate sports car lines [MX-5 and RX-8], into one.
“I have been saying everywhere that we will continue research on the rotary engine,” he declared. “We will not extinguish the flame of the rotary engine. That kind of product is iconic for our brand. So the current MX-5 or RX-8 we have decided in the future to maintain that type of [sports car] product.” Yet he went on to state that “I can’t say, however, that they will be separate … they may be merged into one.”
However many questions remain. If a single rotary powered sports car were to materialize (there’s speculation it could be a hardtop coupe/convertible in the idom of the Mercedes-Benz SLK, or possibly offered in both piston and rotary powered forms), it would be a ways off. Mazda has already said the next generation MX-5, slated to debut in 2013, will feature a conventional in-line ICE engine, incorporating Mazda’s SkyActiv technology.
As for the RX-8, when production ends next year, there’s currently no definite plans for a replacement, though from Yamanounchi- san’s comments it’s clear development on the rotary engine will continue. The question is, whether it will remain solely as an internal combustion unit or be used as a range extending hydrogen fueled generator (Mazda already has such a prototype engine being evaluated by government agencies). Stay tuned for further developments.
The Mazda RX-8′s production run has already ended for much of the world, but Japan is sending off the last rotary engine equipped sports car (for the time being) with a special run of 1,000 cars dubbed the “Spirit R”.
Special badging, red brake calipers, Recaro seats and 18″ wheels are the main highlights of the package, while a choice of Aluminum Metallic, Sparkling Black Mica or Crystal White Pearl Mica paint will be offered for the exterior.
While the Spirit R will be offered only with a 6-speed manual, an automatic-equipped Type E will also be sold for those who only want two pedals.
Gallery: Mazda RX-8 Spirit R
Hit the jump to see the official press release
The RX-8′s days may be as limited as the Shinka, but the rotary engine isn’t. Mazda is still interested in furthering production of the Wankel, and they could have one ready by 2017 with Skyactiv technology.
During the gap, engineers will work on improving the rotary’s mileage and oil-eating capabilities, as well as improving reliability. The new rotary project had been scaled back during the recession, but senior officials are eager to continue developing it to fit with Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” image. It could go in the RX-7/RX-9 revival that’s been floating around for years, or it could even go in the MX-5 Miata. Either way, one thing’s for certain: they won’t give up on the triangle spinner.
Mileage is a big concern, but Mazda’s new Skyactiv system from its gasoline and diesel engines could make the jump over to the rotary. Skyactiv promises hybrid-like mileage from conventional powertrains, and some of its technology—direct injection, for starters—could easily be adapted. No more eating apex seals, hopefully.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
Here’s a fun question for your upcoming pub quiz: name the only hybrid rotary car ever produced. If you named the Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, then congratulations! But next year you might be able to name the RX-8′s successor, the aptly-named RX-9, as another car that’s hybrid Wankelin’.
According to Mazda’s Hiroshima headquarters, the company is busy at work on the next MX-5 Miata and new tech like the SkyActiv engine, leaving precious few R&D funds for the RX-9. ”We want to take the RX-9 to the next level but just can’t find the man-hours to do it,” says an insider in the company. “We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we only have a small band of guys working on the RX-9.”
Instead, however, Mazda may resort to licensing hybrid technology from the electric experts at Toyota, mating it with a radical new rotary engine that promises to eliminate many of the RX-8′s problems—chugging fuel, burning oil, lacking torque, just to name a few. The rotary would be used as the primary engine with the hybrid system serving as a range extender.
And with development of the next MX-5, the RX-9 could see a downsizing, to be more in line with the original 1989 dimensions. The current MX-5 had to be enlarged to fit the RX-8′s platform; now, the RX-9 could be shrunken to fit the next MX-5′s. And yes, this would mean the return of two proper doors for the RX again—Mazda’s legendary sports car comes full circle, it seems.
[Source: Motor Trend]
Mazda is planning to close down their assembly plants again, while stopping orders from dealers in the United States for their made-in-Japan vehicles.
The Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5, MX-5, RX-8, CX-7, CX-9 are all affected. Only the Mazda6 and Tribute will remain in production at their American plants, although the situation could change in light of the parts suppliers affected by the earthquake. As of March 1st, the company had a 94-day supply of vehicles, but the automaker declined to comment on specifics.
In 2010, imported cars accounted for 83 percent of Mazda sales, a much higher number than other Japanese automakers, who build a significant proportion of their cars in North American plants. Mazda’s factories in Japan are located in Hiroshima and Hofu, at the opposite end of the country from where an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident are taking place.
[Source: Automotive News]
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. And be thankful you don’t.
One of Vivid Racing’s customers, Shawn, out in Singapore, sent them over these shots of his Mazda RX-8 sporting a custom widebody conversion and a lot of design cues taken from Lamborghini. In particular there’s a lot of Reventon in the kit, not to mention a front end that resembles the Estoque sedan concept.
Modifications aren’t limited to the body either, with a nice set of Prodrive forged wheels and some AP Racing brakes.
GALLERY: Lamborghini-Styled Mazda RX-8
[Source: Vivid Racing Blog]
The next-generation Mazda RX-8 will get significantly improved fuel economy thanks to a new SKY Rotory engine. According to a report by GoAuto out of Australia, Mazda is planning a second-gen RX-8 with a completely reengineered rotary engine. If the Japanese automaker’s engineers are successful in improving the engine’s design, they plan on delivering a new powerplant with 50 percent better fuel economy. And if this goal is achieved (a necessity if Mazda is to continue using the rotor setup says R&D director Seita Kanai), then Mazda will also brand this engine with its new SKY moniker – a name its using for a new lineup of fuel efficient four-cylinder gasoline and diesel powerplants due out in the near future.
Kanai did not, however, comment on if hybrid technology might be used to further improve the rotary engine. a Hybrid setup in such a car might not be all that surprising as rumors continue to pop up that Subaru’s STi will go hybird, Mitsubishi’s EVO will go hybrid and even the Ford Focus RS will be a hybrid.
All aboard the speculation train! The rumors surrounding Mazda’s new RX-7 don’t stop coming, and with the demise of the RX-8, its a safe bet that Mazda will follow up their quirky four-door sports car with something more conventional.
Mazda is allegedly targeting the VW Scirocco as a rival for the new car, to be given the dubious “RX-9″ moniker. Reports say that a rotary in conjunction with an “electric turbocharger” (we hope they mean some kind of range extender and not the kind you buy on Ebay) should cure the rotary’s chief issues; low torque and loqw fuel economy.
Aesthetics-wise, the car is said to take some cues from the questionable “Nagare” design language, even though Mazda officially canned it.
If this is the case, we might be better off waiting for the all-new MX-5 and keeping our fingers crossed.
Mazda is being forced to stop selling the RX-8 model in Europe next year due to the car’s inability to meet new Euro-5 emissions standards. Adapting the unique rotary engine used in the RX-8 would be both too costly and time consuming considering the low volume sales of the car in Europe.
That being said, the RX-8 will then take at least a two year hiatus, as a successor isn’t planned to arrive until 2013. Mazda will also have to keep in mind that come 2014, new Euro-6 standards come into effect that make the old Euro-5 rules look like a Dickensian industrial revolution.
With the next-gen still far off, it’s not surprising that Mazda has yet to release any details on the new RX-8, but rumors have suggested anything from an upgrade to a more high-powered RX-7 successor, to a complete elimination.
[Source: Auto Motor und Sport via TTAC]
With the overwhelming amount of aftermarket manufacturers tuning hybrids at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, it’s no surprise that C-West has also hopped on the bandwagon. Interestingly enough, we haven’t heard much news from C-West over in North America. Several years back they made a strong push and presence Stateside with their full-carbon record-setting Time Attack S2000 in addition to the popularity of their kits, especially amongst the Honda Civic EK crowd.
Perhaps to gain some momentum back in North America, C-West is current developing new kits for Honda’s popular hybrids, the Insight and the CR-Z. Mazda’s RX-8, though probably not the most popular chassis around, will also get a kit that is reminiscent of traditional C-West styling. C-West is definitely hitting the mark on the Honda bodies with these renderings. Keeping with the theme of being conservative with a hybrid, both the Insight and CR-Z kit aren’t over-the-top, having subtle lines that accentuate the natural body lines of both cars. We are excited to see these in person!