By on December 31, 2009

Ryuga concept: a sign of things to come?

Mazda have been working on the RX-8′s successor for sometime, and naturally most thought that it would be called the RX-9. As in one step up from the RX-8. Apparently, that’s not the case. Nitrobahn.com reports that RX-7 name is to be resurrected. Nitrobahn hypothesised that the reason for this is to “evoke memories of the rear-wheel drive Mazda produced in between 1978 & 2002″. The new RX-7 will be a 2 seater and due in 2011. Like the current RX-8, the RX-7 will be a rotary engine, which means it can be adapted to run on Hydrogen in the future. InsideLine report that the new engine will be 1.6 litres in a 2 x 880cc configuration. The extra displacement means that the engine should be capable of up to 350 BHP. However,  sources close to Mazda say they are adopting a simpler approach to the engineering of the car, by keeping the power of the engine between 200 to 250 BHP to try and keep the price below $25K. With the RWD Toyobaru, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Kia “Kee,” and Nissan “Silvia” on the horizon, the future market for sporty coupes just keeps getting more and more interesting.

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40 Comments on “Mazda RX Regresses...”


  • avatar

    I’m no math whiz, but I believe 2 x 880 cc = 1.8 liters, not 1.6.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Even if it were called the Aztek, that is a hot-looking car.

  • avatar
    Ernie

    My first thought: ooooooh
     
    My second thought: No back seat.  No backseat = no son = no “car guy’s car” for me.
     
    I *do* like the Evil-Sexy-Grin (as opposed to the cheery smiley face of the 2010 3)

    -EDIT-
    Hey guys, I think Cammy tricked us ;)
    Looks like this is another car (nicely sans wing!)
    http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/mazda_furai.jpg

    The pics in the article look like a next-gen RX-8 with a wing!

    Talk about a blind date with a “hot friend” and Anne Ramsey shows up :o

    • 0 avatar

      Going to go out on a limb here, but if Anne Ramsey’s 21-year-old corpse shows up anywhere, I’m breaking out my zombie survival kit.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Actually, the plan is for it to be a 2+2, with the next Miata coupe holding the proper sports car mantle.  So you’re good.
      I’m actually bummed – as much as another low-cost sports car is nice, I actually am old enough now that I could afford, and would buy, a Mazda technological tour de force.  I want a $50K, asswhomping car with a 350 hp rotary, less than 2700 lbs, in two-seat configuration.  I guess I missed the boat on the FD.

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      Hehe, I *LOVE* my 6 (GT i w/Manual transmission).
      If mazda took a shot over the bow of the 535 or M5, I’d buy one and drive it till it died.
       
      —- I’ll admit it, if the V6 came in the 6 with a manual, I’d have done the same thing :D
       

  • avatar
    tgriffith

    I’m loving the upcoming sporty coupes. Lots to look forward to in 2010! Happy New Year’s Eve everyone.
    http://www.cargurus.com/blog/2009/12/31/cars-coming-soon-2011-model-year-preview

  • avatar
    educatordan

    “Mazda RX Regresses” Why don’t we have a file for “Misleading Headline of the Day”?  Other than the name change I don’t really see regression here.
     
    @imag: It’s not rotary powered and it doesn’t weight 2700 lbs but go buy a gently used Corvette if you’ve got that kind of money to blow.  I’m not trying to be mean, just stating the obvious.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    50 grand buys a new, 376-CID Corvette. 3200 lbs, not 2700, but you do get 424+ horsepower to make up for it.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Several years ago, it was desired to have a rotary sedan and 2-seater off the same platform (many assumed the 2-seater would be the next Miata) and also again offer a D/D+ premium sedan off a different platform.

    By creating a 2-seat RX7, this allows the possibility of a 4-seat RX8, and/or also opens up the nomenclature space for a top of the line M8.

  • avatar

    please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck
    Still excited about the toyobaru, but the rx7 will always be my first love.
    please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck…

  • avatar
    James2

    It’s a pity Mazda is the only car company in the world interested in developing something other than the piston engine (at least as far as the ICE goes). Maybe if there was a broader range of research to piggyback on the Wankel wouldn’t be the torque-less gas guzzler it’s painted as –and more carmakers would try it on for size.
     
    +1 to educatordan, too

  • avatar
    imag

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve had my Corvette for my lifetime.  I also drove a current gen Z06 and while it impressed me, it didn’t really put a smile on my face.   Maybe the next gen will really astonish me and I’ll do it again, but I kind of want to diversify.

    Besides, 500 lbs is a lot, and I already have a 3250 lb. car.  And a new, lightened rotary is the stuff of dreams, although even I would probably not buy one in the first model year.

    If Mazda doesn’t do it right, I’ll keep saving my pennies for an Exige S260….

  • avatar
    TAP

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there engine reliability issues to this day with the rotary? Light, compact and smooth just isn’t enough to sway me from piston engines.

    • 0 avatar
      pnnyj

      Yes, the rotary still has a reputation for reliability issues, however, I think that a lot of that has to do with people’s ignorance of the rotary engine’s very particular mechanical characteristics. Simply put, a rotary engine works differently than a piston engine and therefore what is normal for a rotary (ie. consuming engine oil) is a sign of problems for a piston engine. Many people choose to buy their cars because they like its looks and it has the right number of cupholders and the dealer has one on the lot in their favourite colour, these people tend to know next to nothing about the car’s engine and a re likely to interpret a rotary engine’s slightly unusual characteristics as flaws. I don’t think the rotary’s reputation for reliability issues is all that justified.
       
      Some issues like the flooding experienced on some of the early RX-8s, which required a tow to the dealer, really were a PITA but I haven’t heard about continuing problems with that.

  • avatar

    @James2
    Nothing can save the wankel from being a gas guzzler. It’s the nature of the beast. If you want the details, email me at motorlegends@aol.com. I wrote an article about that. If it weren’t doomed to be a gas guzzler, I’d have bought an RX-8. The most fun I’ve had in anything but a Porsche Cayman and Boxster, and that second seat was a big plus.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Good looking car. Now if they’d just make it light, mid-engined, targa-topped I’d buy one.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    I’m not sure I get this move.  It sounds like they are going to put the existing engine in a new body.  Wrapping a wankel engine in a sexier body really doesn’t address any of the shortcomings of the wankel unless they can really drop the weight of the car.  The problem I see with this approach is that getting low weight can be expensive and they want to keep this car around $25k.

    The other problem is that a 2 seater would be less versatile than most of the competition and there is a lot of competition in the $25-30K range.  I just don’t see how this will work. 

  • avatar

    Will I see one of these in yellow bombing down Mt. Akina chasing an FT-86 tofu delivery machine?

  • avatar
    tedward

    Looking forward to it. A rotary coupe can get away with being slower than it’s competition (just like the Civic Si does) just so long as it keeps that “little bastard” drivetrain character.
    I absolutely love that the Asian firms are taking aim at the entry performance portion of the market. Mazda (and sort of Honda) have been the only stalwarts until now, and I think that it’s had a clear effect on their mainstream offerings, here’s hoping it has the same effect on the others.
    I wonder just how much indigestion this is causing the Germans, the pressure is on with regards to their VW/Porsche baby roadster. The Asians will produce a better value as a rule, and the Mazda has a real chance of being the better handler, it’s going to be a real uphill battle. That flat four needs to be fantastic.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Whatever they do they had better come up with something that actually sells. Miata and RX8 sales are awful. Mazda better build something they can make money at or they are in deep trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      I agree that Mazda should stop messing around with Wankel-powered sports cars and high-end CUVs that nobody wants.    But what probably matters even more is ramping up ex-Japan production capacity for its wildly-successful 3 and its many potential offspring in the years ahead.

  • avatar

    I would just hope for better mpg and for them to fix the lack of torque. I’d have bought an RX-8 except for the engine. At this point I’d rather have had the MS3 engine in there.
    I’d imagine that instead they will just add hp and blame the failure of the RX-8 on actually being adventurous. Instead they should push down the price of the RX-8 to compete with the FT86.

    • 0 avatar
      Beta Blocker

      akatsuki:   I would just hope for better mpg and for them to fix the lack of torque. I’d have bought an RX-8 except for the engine. At this point I’d rather have had the MS3 engine in there.
       
      I bought a Mazda 6 several months ago,  and told the salesman that if it were not for the rotary engine, the RX-8 would have been my first choice hands down.
       
      He was happy to sell me a Mazda 6, which I now use to commute 100 miles a day round trip.
       
      OK, just think about the following possibility:  A rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe version of the Mazda 6 with a high-tech V6 and a six-speed manual.
       
      It would be everything the two-door Honda Accord sport coupe should be, but isn’t.
       
      Heck, how about a four-door, rear-wheel drive version of the Mazda 6 with a V6 and a 6 speed manual?

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      Or just a 6MT in a V6?
       
      Beta-Blocker
      (BTW, love the username – QA dev or have a mother-in-law?)

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Here is the funamental problem with what Mazda is doing.  The wankel engine generates relatively poor gas mileage for its relative hp with low torque.  On the plus side, the engine is relatively small and light and allows front engine placement while maintaining perfect weight distribution.

    Now the bad part.  The market seems not to care about the balance and handling offered by the wankel engine.  Micheal Karesh wrote an excellent editorial on this fact.  Mazda’s plans do not really address the market’s issues with the wankel engine unless you believe that this new 2 seater is going  to get the weight of the new car so low that gas mileage will be significantly improved.  My guess is that the market will continue to spurn the wankel and this will be its last hurrah

  • avatar
    ccd2

    One other point.  There has been a lot of discussion in the past about branding and statement supercars.  For example, for a company like Toyota which has expanded on the premise of making reliable cars, making a super car really makes no sense at all.  For Mazda, a car company branding as making affordable sporty cars, a  statement car could make some sense.  Not a ridiculously expensive car, but something around $40k could work.  If Mazda could produce RX-8 with 250 hp and weighing around 2500 lbs (think an affordable Lotus Evora), that car could help cement its branding.  Do I think the car would be a hit?  Honestly, no.  But it might break even and the compliment to Mazda’s branding could make it worth producing.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Beta:

    For a 100 mile commute, I would have probably gone for something like a GTI not either the 6 or the RX-8.  I own a 2008 Mazda 6 GT (6 banger) and will probably trade it in for the RX-8.  The 6 is a “nice” car, but it reminds me all too often of what it coud have been with a better motor (like the one in the MS3). 

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      I’ve got a 100mi round-trip as well, and, oddly enough, I’ve got a 2009 Mazda6 GT i (6MT) and it’s a totally different car to the 2008.
       
      It’s got a LOT of room, though if the new Legacy GT had been out at the time, I’d have gone for her.  Not many cars for people who want a useable back seat, a manual transmission and drive in the snow (under $30k ) out there :(

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Ernie:

    The 2008 Mazda6 is fine for ocassional backseaters, but the fit is tight to non-existent, depending on how far back the front seats are.  The ’09 model is much bigger and I don’t doubt that it has much better room for rear passengers.  The top of the line 2008 Mazda6 offerred a 6 speed transmission, but no manual.  However, it does drive relatively well in the snow.

    If I were heading the rotary project at Mazda, I’d take the basic layout of the RX-8 with a few changes.  I’d keep the back seat and the signature suicide doors, but make the back seats fold down and add a hatch like my Mazda where you can’t tell it even is a hatch.

    Then I would bump the hp of the current engine up to 250 hp and spend the money to drop the weight down to around 2700 lbs and finally update the styling.  The target price would be $40k, not $25k.  Such a package would compare favorably to the Lotus Evora for much less money.  Manufacturers get too caught up in increasing hp to compensate for increasingly bigger, heavier cars.  Take a page out of Lotus’ book, if you get the weight down, you don’t need a big honking engine and light cars can be more fun to drive. 

    If you think this is crazy, consider that the Evora costs over $70k, has a 275 hp and weights a little over 3000 lbs.  Granted a Mazda is not a Lotus which is why my target price would be $40k which is a lot of money for a Mazda.  Also consider that such a car would fit nicely into the branding of a company like Mazda, unlike Toyota making a super car with makes no sense whatsoever, IMHO.

    Introducing a $25k rotary is suicide.  Part of the problem with the current RX-8 is that its pricing encourages comparisons to cars which are really not its competition (ie Mustang, Camaro, etc) and a $25k rotary would suffer from the same problem, only worse.  A 2-seat rotary would get lost in the sea of pocket rockets.  Great handling is the signature characteristic of the RX-8 and it needs to be priced so that consumers think of it as a budget Cayman/Boxster or Lotus.

    Just my 2 cents. 

    • 0 avatar
      richeffect

      I believe the market will expect a 40k RX to be almost as fast as a 50k Boxster or Lotus, if not faster.  The current RX-8 is slower in 0-60 than the MS3.  While acceleration numbers do not tell the whole story, it IS a rather large part of the story to many Americans shopping for a sports car (for a $40k+ one anyway).

    • 0 avatar
      ccd2

      Let’s make a couple of reasonable assumptions.  First that the 16x engine, for whatever reasons, is not ready for prime time.  Second that the current engine can be bumped in terms of hp to 250.   Let’s also assume the new RX-7 will be a 2 seater as reported.

      The base Cayman has 250 hp and starts at around $50k.  I’d bet most Caymans go out the door close to $60k , given the lack of standard equipment on the car.  Now I doubt anyone buys a Cayman for 0-60 times.  So much of this comes down to perception.  I bet the MS3 can give the base Cayman a run for its money in terms of 0-60 times.

      In terms of handling, the current RX-8 matches the Cayman.  Horsepower is already close between the two and the Cayman is just slightly lighter than the current RX-8.  The differences between the two comes down to big differences in torque and gas mileage.    Both can be improved on the Mazda if Mazda can get the RX-7′s weight in the 2600-2700 lb range.    Will those figures exceed the Porsche?  Probably not.  However, if the RX-7 can come in this light at $40k, a $20k difference will pay for a lot of gas.  The RX-7 doesn’t have to exceed Cayman performance, but it does have to more or less match it at a discount.  

      Your comment is the reason why a $25k RX-7 is doomed.  There are simply too many high power cars in the $25k range with more on the way.  If the new RX-7 is at that price point, it will inevitably get compared to them and it will not do well.  This is the problem of the RX-8.  The RX-8 is a great handling 4 seater which is a true sports car.  There is simply nothing like it at $30k so it gets compared to cars which are really different kinds of cars which are at its price point.     

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    Ernie:  “Or just a 6MT in a V6?“

    I’d go for it, sure.  Could the 6-speed manual transmission now mated to the I4 in the Mazda 6 be mated to the V6 as well?    If the 6-speed manual could handle the V6 power and torque, why not?

    Ernie:  “Beta-Blocker (BTW, love the username – QA dev or have a mother-in-law?)“
     
    I’m a nuclear worker, and most of the radiation dose I’m subject to where I work comes from beta-gamma radiation as opposed to alpha.  Hence, I am a “beta blocker” as opposed to an “alpha male.”

    ccd2: ” The RX-8 is a great handling 4 seater which is a true sports car.  There is simply nothing like it at $30k so it gets compared to cars which are really different kinds of cars which are at its price point. ”
     
    It’s really too bad that a high tech conventional engine isn’t used in the RX-8.   If it weren’t for the real possibility I would be putting 200,000 miles on my new car in a relatively short timeframe, I might have considered the RX-8 even with its rotary engine.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Just to be clear, you could put a conventional engine in the RX-8, but you would not have the same car.  The small size of the wankel allows the engine to be placed further forward and lower than would be possible with a conventional engine, resulting in handling/weight distribution of a mid-engined sports car (think Cayman or Lotus Evora).  The result is that you have the space of a conventional front engine layout with the handling of a mid-engine car.

    But it is not a free ride.  Wankels use more oil, have less torque and get poor gas mileage for the hp generated.  While the Wankel makes an impressive amount of hp for its size, it does not make a lot of power in absolute terms.  In terms of reliability, the R2 engine appears to be pretty well sorted out, particularly from ’09 on.  Mazda made a number of changes under the hood which are rarely discussed because they did not result in greater hp or fuel economy.

    The idea that Mazda could drop a turbo 4-banger into the RX-8, keep the same handling characteristics while adding hp is just wishful thinking.  IF the RX-8 were a mid-engined car, this would make a lot of sense as the smaller wankel would offer minimal advantages in a mid-engined car.  But the RX-8 is a front engine car so you have to choose what is more important to you: great handling or more hp with better gas mileage.  Unfortunately, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

  • avatar
    AJ

    In my younger days I had two first generation RX-7s. I drove the wheels off those cars around the Rockies! I loved driving a rotary. Like an electric motor filled with a bunch of worked up bees. If you haven’t driven one, find a rotary and a mountain pass or canyon road.

    I still kick myself that I didn’t buy a third generation RX-7 when they were new. Those cars are still super cool looking today, IMHO.

    I’ve long left fast cars for Jeeps, but I could see buying a new one. (drool)

  • avatar
    RotaryMan91

    Let’s be clear about something folks. First of all, the rotary is a great engine without question. It has as I have written before, proven itself time and time again in racing and production to be a world class performer. Second, you can get tons of horsepower out of a rotary. But in doing so, Mazda runs up against that dreaded monster called “emissions’. The only real performance flaw in the engine is with its torque curve. It has always lacked in bottom-end. It is a ‘high-end’ performer such as the case with Hondas S2000. However, the 3rd generation RX-7 obviously had some ‘squat’ with a 0-60 time in the mid 4 second range and a top end of 165mph.

    The biggest problem for us ‘Rotor Heads’ with Mazda over the years, is that they have not, or even refused to put forth the effort in developing its 3 and 4 rotor engines where you could easily get legitimate Porsche/Ferrari destroying power out of it. The first Japanese sports car prototype to win the infamous 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans race was a 4-rotor 724hp car, that beat the second and third place finishers by 11 to 12 laps (Mercedes, Jaguar, and Porsche). Plus, these cars had about 100 more HP then the rotary prototype which was allowed to weigh slightly less due once again to its lack in torque. This rotary car was still able to hit well over 200mph on the famous “Mulsane Straight” of the aforementioned race throughout a 24 hour race which I believe is somewhere around a 3.5 mile track with many curves and straights which means lots of gear shifts and breaking. It lasted!! And when a number of the other cars were breaking down during the night, the morning crowd saw that rotary humming along to victory.

    The Mazda RX-7 was the fastest to ever reach 100 victories over any other sports car in racing history, and they did it with the rotary. This is why it is insulting to the racing heritage of this engine for Mazda to put out there production rotary cars that are good, but still, their horsepower to price range positions them competitive wise where they don’t exactly match-up with the likes of 350Z’s, Mustangs and Camero’s. Mazda’s thinking has always been perfect balance, lower horsepower, lighter weight and smooth as silk acceleration. If I want smooth acceleration, I’ll go out and buy a big over priced sedan. However, when I step on the gas of my RX-7/RX-8, I want to feel as if I am being launched off of the deck of an air craft carrier in an F-18.

    A normally aspirated 3-rotor non-turbo engine gives you 310hp. But once again, the dreaded ‘Emissions Monster’ rears its ugly head. But that can be solved. However the company has to want to steer its efforts in that direction.

    Currently, Mazda is racing a number of Rx-8′s in professional GT racing under the racing sanctioning body know as the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). These cars are using a 3-rotor engine pumping out 410hp each. The actor Patrick Dempsey is one of the drivers on one of the teams. Yes, he is a good racer, such as was the case with the late Paul Newman who raced a number of Datsun/Nissan 240Z’s, 260Z’s and a 280Z (had a Cadillac engine) during the 1970′s and 1980′s.

    The RX-8 was certainly a disappointment as a successor to the great RX-7. However, it has and still is carrying on Mazda’s rotary heritage, and as mentioned earlier, the dominance in racing as well as relative acceptance in the production circle. Mazda could stand to let this engine ‘open-up’ and breath the fire which lies in its belly in the form of a dominant street performer.

  • avatar
    jew_weller

    mmm… yummy….


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