By on October 31, 2012

Putting an end to the vicious cycle of rumors and conjecture, Mazda’s sports car chief revealed that they will bring back the RX-7 in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Cosmo sports car.

Nobohiru Yamamoto, who is now head of the MX-5 program, told Australia’s The Motor Report that the RX-7 will use a stretched version of the Miata platform, and weigh roughly as much as the 2775 lb Toyota 86. Japanese market versions will have a small rear seat, while North American versions will be two-seaters.

Power will come from the new 16X rotary engine, a naturally aspirated unit capable of nearly 300 horsepower. Yamamoto said that a large single turbo caused too much lag, and a sequential twin-turbo setup like the previous RX-7 was “not ideal”. But Yamamoto didn’t rule out a turbo either for future production. But even in naturally aspirated form, the power to weight ratio should exceed the last RX-7 sold in North America.

Also absent from the RX-7 will be any kind of KERS or hybrid system. Mazda currently doesn’t have any sort of technology in that space, and according to Yamamoto “”…a pure sports ca…must be internal combustion.” Lightweight aluminum body panels and special catalysts will help the car meet tough emissions and fuel economy standards.

Unfortunately, all that will come at a price. The RX-7 will apparently be more expensive than something like a Nissan 370Z or a Toyota 86. All that engineering comes at a price, and the RX-7 will be positioned to reflect that.

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61 Comments on “Mazda’s MX-5 Guru Reveals Details On The Next RX-7...”


  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Sub 300hp at a cost greater than a 370Z?

    If we thought we heard bellyaching about the Toyobaru specs/price ratio then the commentariat will have a field day with this one.

    • 0 avatar

      If it really does weigh as much as a Toyobaru though, then the power/weight will exceed the previous RX-7. And that was a bloody quick car.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Totally agreed. And all things being equal, if given the choice between a Toyobaru-bred sports car vs a Mazda-bred sports car, I’d get the Mazda without even thinking about it.

        I just can’t stand the thought of the forthcoming “well if it costs that much, why not get an X Brand X model which gets X more horsepower” arguments as if horsepower is the ultimate answer to everything.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        You just solved for “X”

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I want to know how much less a modern rotary engine will weigh than a modern turbo inline-4. I bet the weight savings are trivial, despite the fact that the piston engine can also deliver torque, good fuel economy and reliability.

        Anyone know how an RX-8 rotary’s weight compares to, say, a BMW, GM or Hyundai 2.0 liter turbo-4?

        The Mazda to own with be the ND Miata, not this bigger, heavier version.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Anything over 275hp in a rotary based RX that weighs less than 3000 lbs will be very fast, and if retains the Mazda focus on sublime handling, as great steering and braking, this thing will be a track monster that will have the ability to snack on cars having significant HP advantages even in a straight line, too.

        I love the tenacious spirit of Mazda.

        It truly separates them from a sea of posers.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    Well crap. Guess I’ll be buying one. I actually wasn’t expecting this but am pretty pleased with the news.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    We’re talking about a 60 hp bump over the outgoing RX-8 and nearly 100 hp on the FR-S. That ain’t peanuts.

    They’re also projecting a curb weight roughly 500 lbs lighter than the 370Z. Like a Miata or an RX-8, I expect this car to punch above its horsepower rating.

    I’m glad that Mazda is keeping the rotary alive.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    If it is available with a manual transmission, there could be a Mazda in my future.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It will be a money-losing halo car.

    And – inevitably – every review of it will include the words ‘oil’, ‘fuel consumption’, ‘reliability’, ‘emissions’, and ‘center of gravity’, in an effort to convince us that the rotary engine has finally produced a vehicle that’s superior than its well-heeled competitors.

    Baloney; the rotary engine has never delivered on its promises after four decades of development.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Well, given how Mazda is trying to differentiate itself, it might be a good halo. But it’s hard to see how a low-volume car with a purpose-built engine is going to be profitable and sell at a competitive price.
      As far as I can tell, the only advantage the rotary engine offers is packaging and possibly weight. And, unlike its reciprocating counterparts it does not have the ability to vary the relationship and duration between opening the intake and exhaust. So, it’s still not going to produce much torque at low to moderate rpms and it’s going to be a gas-sucker.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        As a halo car, it doesn’t have to be profitable. A successful halo car improves the image of its brand. I’d be surprised if Chrysler makes any money from the Viper either.

      • 0 avatar
        toplessFC3Sman

        The 2nd gen NA rotaries (’86 – ’91) did vary the intake timing through the 5th & 6th port sleeves, which sat in the outer housings above the “regular” intake ports, and were actuated above a certain RPM to effectively extend the port opening time & area at high speeds. Basically like rotary vtec, and it worked pretty well at boosting low-load torque while keeping the high-load flow.

        The DI should help volumetric efficiency even more, and the re-profiled chamber should give a higher CR and less surface area/volume for lower heat losses & fuel/air quenching, the major problems for wankel efficiency & HC emissions

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @toplessFC3Sman: While your description may be true, any time the argument resorts to technical discussions of volumetric efficiency, the game is over. Consumers only want to know if the car is efficient and reliable, and performs well. Only True Believers care what’s under the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @srogers: You are correct; a halo car doesn’t have to be profitable.

        But I’m not sure the rotary-powered cars have improved Mazda’s image, particularly after letting down generations of buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        They could, you know, use the rotary in more models to give it scale. Personally I think they should stick it in the Mazdaspeed 3s and 6s at least…

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Baloney; the rotary engine has never delivered on its promises after four decades of development.

      unless you have a rotary turbo application.

      My college classmate’s force induction RX-7 made me a believer of Wankel

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      gslippy, stop channeling me.

      The last version of the RX7 was a stupendous sports car in need of a proper motor. Forty years of Mazda trying to develop it, almost ten years of NSU/Audi before that, for what?

      I normally hate people who mess with a nicely engineered car by swapping for some junk motor that has no business in it, but if I got a late model RX7, that rotary motor would be out before the motor cooled and the suspension settled. A tip for Mazda: if you’re going to reissue the RX7, engineer the engine compartment so that a Mazda6 or Miata motor can be intalled when the new owner is fed up with the rotary motor. Mazda, you’re too smart to really be serious about this.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Sorta reminds me of when the horrible GM 350 diesel engines were switched out for gas 350 engines a generation ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Alexdi

        This. My response to this article was a long wail about the rotary. The best FD RX7 is the same car with an LS motor. Beautiful, agile, reliable, spectacularly fast, and properly pissed off in the exhaust note. I’d like to see a turbo six at the very least.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    At the very least they’d need an idle stop system, even if they don’t have a full fledged hybrid system. The atrocious gas mileage of the rotary engine will be a hard sell.

    Frankly, if I was running Mazda I would not be pursuing a vanity project like this. I would pop the Skyactiv Diesel into everything that moves and shoot for the moon.

    • 0 avatar
      cfisch

      As an past Maxdz dealer when a customer found out how much his insurance was they backed out of the deal! They could afford the car, but not both the car and insurance!

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        If he couldn’t afford the car and insurance, he couldn’t afford the maintenance either and had no business buying that car. That goes triple if you’re talking about an FD here.

        Since when did sports cars become appliances too?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @ icemilkcoffee: “I would pop the Skyactiv Diesel into everything that moves and shoot for the moon.”

      Not a bad strategy! Then Mazda could try competing with VW.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    2017, eh? Just in time for Star Wars Episode VIII!

  • avatar
    Micah

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Mazda seems to be the only automaker that “gets it” anymore. I think they can pull it off.

  • avatar
    tkewley

    I am interested, to put it mildly, to see how Mazda will get 300 naturally aspirated horsepower from a rotary while meeting current fuel economy standards.

  • avatar

    Mazda has some filings in the patent office on an electric supercharger/regular turbo twincharger set up. It was rumored for the next Mazdaspeed3, but it’s a possibility. At lest, it’s a third alternative to single turbo or twin turbo. This is a bit over the back fence stuff, though.

    http://www.corksport.com/blog/more-turbos-from-mazda/

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=3&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=mazda&s2=20100112.PD.&OS=mazda+AND+ISD/1/12/2010&RS=mazda+AND+ISD/1/12/2010

  • avatar
    ccd1

    2017 is so far out, who knows if this rumor turns out to be true. As a halo car, it might make sense. Such a car would solidify Mazda’s sports car branding image.

    The problem, as shown by the above comments, is that any rotary comes with LOTS of preconceived notions. In that respect, waiting a few more years might give time for people to forget the RX-7/RX-8 and judge the new car on its own merits.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    If the specs/ price or power/price ratio were the only differentiator, nobody would ever buy a BMW. Imagine a world with only Kias or Cherys. I bet most of the rotary knockers here have never driven one. The experience is unlike any reciprocating engine can provide. We owned an RX7 in the early 80′s and it remains my wife’s favorite of all the cars we have owned. What price is the fun factor?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I drove an RX-3 or an RX-4 once. It was an unusual – and thrilling – experience.

      But the exhaust notes, backfiring, afterfiring, smells, and unpredictable torque curve were unpleasant reminders that I was driving something different. Granted, the car I drove was old even then.

      A hint of the rotary’s problems – see how many are still on the road?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        gslippy…

        You know, there is an intermediate alternative here. And I am surprised that no engine manufacturer has thought of it. Both BMW and Ford are moving toward 3-cylinder engines. With that low count, there is nothing that prevents a RADIAL configuration, such as in an airplane engine. Advantage: the 120-degree cylinder separation and sequential firing may maintain better and more uniform force application to the crankshaft, allow higher RPMs and more HP. So, in a weird way, it may have some of the benefits of a Wankel while retaining the reliability, low emissions, and endurance of a conventional reciprocating inline ICE. Just some thoughts….

        ————–

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        gslippy, you are aware that the rotary in the RX-8 met emissions criteria even in California, right?

        If they did it once, they can do it again.

        And by the way, there are many, many rotaries in 7s and 8s on the road, especially relative to how many were sold in the U.S. (even more so the case in places like Australia, which has something of a cult following for all things Mazda, including the rotaty based ones).

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        There’s 3 FCs and 2 FBs here in my small town.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @NMGOM

        Radial? I like, I like!

  • avatar
    imag

    I have been waiting for this news. I was hoping that it would be coming sooner, but I figured that if the Miata was out at 2015, this was kind of inevitable.

    And I would gladly pay $40-$50K for this car. It will have real brakes, spindles, and power over the FR-S, along with a likely better interior. It will probably keep up with a Boss 302, Boxster, or TT-RS, so that price seems more than fair.

    It will be the first aluminum block rotary and it will have 20% more displacement than previous rotaries for better torque. Sign me up.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Sweet spot for a 300hp RX7 with as good or better steering, braking and handling as the current RX8 would be about 35k to 45k, IMO.

      At that price, assuming a curb weight of around 2700 to 2900 pounds, you’d really have a LEGITIMATE Porsche contender at a significant discount.

      As a bonus, the rotary is actually an easy motor to self-service relating to maintenance, unlike the travails J Baruth described with his Boxter.

      As it is, the current RX-8 has a Porsche capable chassis in a genuine sense, and it even has some advantages over a low-spec Cayman, such as LSD (I know the Cayman didn’t originally have LSD, which is a major faux paux, and one that evidenced itself in heavy track use).

      My problem with what Mazda is speaking of is the loss of the very usable two back seats in the rear. That’s what makes my 8 possible as a daily driver (along with a miraculous combination of amazing handling yet fantastic suspension comfort on even rough city roads), whereas a 2 seater would make me hesitate because I’d have to have another vehicle at my disposal.

      So, if they go down the 2 seater road, they might as well stray back into exotica territory, but that would really necessitate forced induction (which Mazda’s engineer has shunned), so it’s somewhat of a dilemna.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Good point about the two-seater mandating more exotic power levels. I think that is correct. It’s a tough market anyway, as is shown by the sales numbers on the decent 370z. 2 seaters need to be very aspirational to survive.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Ooh, just in time for me to replace/supplement my MX-5.
    This is the news I’ve been waiting for. I really hope this comes true.
    Knock on wood.

    Also, I would prefer if they keep it NA like the 13B-MSP in RX-8.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    I love the way Mazda cars drive, and I love the philosophy behind the company. But they can’t even make a piston engine car reliable anymore… I don’t even want to think about a rotary.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      lulwut? So you’re saying that Car & Driver would give “Best Small SUV” to a car with a totally unreliable engine? The car that is shattering their sales goals? The car that is considered a “Top Safety Pick” by the IIHS?

      Last year, the TUV (German quality safety and approval body) found the Mazda2 to have the second least amount of defects…right behind the Prius. Actually it was a three way tie for second with the smart fortwo and the Porsche 911. That should tell you something. Not only that, but Mazda had cars in the top 10 in EVERY CATEGORY. JD Power rated them the 4th most reliable car brand in 2009. Consumer reports last year had them in the top 10.

      Tell me more. *popcorn*

      • 0 avatar
        lzaffuto

        Let’s just say from 1999-2010 I’ve owned three. Three strikes and you’re out. There won’t be a forth.

        Also, those people didn’t own those cars. Most reviewers and quality judges don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Mazda just scored pretty high on CR’s reliability surveys, which do come from owners of the cars.

        It would seem to me that if someone has blown three in such a short time while thousands of others have had few or no issues, the reason for the difference isn’t the cars.

      • 0 avatar
        lzaffuto

        You’re going to believe what you want to believe anyway, but I’ve owned 2 Hondas, 1 Toyota and 1 Scion, 2 Nissans and one Infiniti and never had any problems with them.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I’ve owned six of the 1st-gen RX7s, all with the normally-aspirated 12A engine producing a measily 101 hp. Still, those light-weight cars put up decent acceleration, durability and fuel economy numbers for their era, competing favourably with the likes of the 280ZX, the Supra, the Truimph TR8 and (by a substantial margin) the Porsche 924. In fact, it wasn’t much slower to accelerate than the so-called “muscle cars” of the day or even the Corvette.

    And durability? I’ll put it this way: I had six Rx7s, but only five rotary engines between them. Rust ate one of them, so I bought another one with a blown engine from a girl who didn’t know you had to even CHECK the oil let alone add one quart every 1000 miles to feed the apex seals their daily lube. I then transplanted the good rotary from my rust bucket into the shiny black one purchased from the ditz. Average mileage from all six engines was around 280,000 kms, with one making it over the 300,000 km mark. (The lowest was 182,000 kms, and I sold it before the engine could reach the end of its life).

    Boost by any method shortens the life of rotaries, and a normally-aspirated 2-rotor set-up will always have weaker torque at low rpms vs. piston engines of similar hp. If Mazda is serious about overcoming this weakness they’ll come up with a similar displacement rotary to the 13B, but divide that displacement between three rotors rather than only two. This should solve the low-torque at the bottom end issue.

    What these engines are NOT is tolerant of poor (or non-existent) maintenance. The neglect you can get away with if you drive a Civic or Corolla does not translate at all to a rotary. Do not buy your teenage daughter a rotary-powered car as a graduation present.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      True Believers are willing to add a quart of oil per 1000 miles, but that’s 1960s reliability. Today’s consumers of everything from Civics to Corvettes expect – and receive – much better.

      You’ve described the reasons these things are such a hard sell – the word is out.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        Um…What? It has nothing to do with the lack of reliability of the car.

        Wankel engines burn oil by design…It’s proper maintenance of the car…and proper maintenance is something you do with any car.

        Seriously, we’re talking about sports cars here. Any decent sports car is going to need TLC to last.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        I really get a kick out of all the supposed gearheads who cry about spending 30 seconds and 4 dollars every few weeks to add some oil into their sports cars. For the umpteenth time: the reason the Wankel burns oil is because there is a PUMP that meters oil from its reservoir into the engine for lubrication. It’s not a reliability, longevity or engineering failing, and those who are bothered by it can always disconnect the pump and run pre-mix in with their gas like the racers do.

        1960s reliability was 10,000 mile valve lash adjustments and bi-weekly carb balancing. Opening a fill cap and adding fluid registers about even on the “maintenance” meter with filling the gas tank, and falls well behind monthly tire pressure checks. If these things are too much work for you, it’s probably best to stick with a Corolla, and leave the fun vehicles to people who aren’t utterly lazy about their machines.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Well other than the fact my aunt had an ’87 RX-7 back in the day, I know very little about the Mazda RX and the Wankel engine. With low hp specs and high maintenance costs what exactly is the attraction of Wankel design?

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        A couple of Wankel attractions: low engine weight/small size (the car can be better balanced and have a low hood height), and a high-rev nature. I rode in an RX-4 once and couldn’t believe the tach when it showed 9,000rpm. Plus, Mazda and the Wankel engine are synonmymous.

      • 0 avatar

        I still daily drive the RX-7 I bought in 2003 as my first car. As the stuff surrounding the motor fails and requires replacement (brakes, belts, exhaust), the motor itself is still holding up at 165k. People rip on rotaries for their problems (They are in cheap sports cars and have some special requirements. What do you expect?), but forgive a piston engine when it blows headgaskets, needs valve work, or throws a timing belt.

        Benefits:
        *Packaging: Light, low, and compact.
        *Excellent top end, and it’s easy to make them breathe (port work).
        *Turbo rotaries love boost. They start at 180-255hp, but just feed them boost and FUEL (detonation destroys them), and they will happily deliver 400hp without changes to the engine.
        *Super smooth (even power pulses, and mostly orbital rotor movement)

        Basically, great for a sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The real fix for the weak low rpm torque is an electric motor. The rotary engine is actually an ideal candidate for a sporty hybrid. The electric motor has superior low end torque. The wankel engine is very inefficient at idle and low speed- an electric motor will take care of those shortcomings.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Being that the Toyobaru will receive turbos, and likely still be fairly light, I have my doubts about this car being that turbo GT86 will likely achieve near 300hp would likely sell for considerably less than this rotary vehicle.

    My biggest concern is the 2017 release date. Really, who knows what cars will be out by then. A Ecoboost 4-cylinder Mustang is expected to become a global car. Nissan to will have a new Z car by then. Toyota is suppose to have a sports car sitting above the GT86.

    I like Mazda, and I like the RX7, and I like rotary engines. However, I think that Mazda needs to bring more than what they have announced so far. Being a 300hp 2,700lb rotary engine priced higher than the 370Z.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      How is Mazda going to afford to bring more? Looking at their sales in Japan, I think their giddiness at being free from Ford will quickly turn into balance sheet reality, a 2017 RX-7 is right up there with Honda’s “sometime in the future, more efficient and less expensive, engineering marvel hybrid, because we designed the CCVC 30 someaught years ago” lingo.

  • avatar
    raph

    “and according to Yamamoto “”…a pure sports ca…must be internal combustion.”

    Man, I love this guy! A sports car sans silly hybrid powertrain – beautiful.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    So…. would this be the FE then? (FC, FD….)

    Not that I’m in a position to buy one, but this makes me happy. My mom had an ’86 FC herself and we LOVED that car. My parents eventually traded it in for a ’88 Maxima because my little brother was born and we needed a 4 door. I actually wept like a little girl when it was gone, no joke. So suffice it to say I have a soft spot for rotary engine cars. Plus hearing an 13BREW at fun song at redline is a beautiful thing to hear….

  • avatar
    SqueakyVue

    Deadweight nailed it on this one. 275hp with Miata handling is going to make this thing an animal. I would grab this over a Toyobaru in a second and not think twice about the extra cost.

    “I love the tenacious spirit of Mazda.”

  • avatar
    akitadog

    I love the idea, but Mazda needs to save itself some money instead of throwing money down this dead-end rotary technology (at least as a primary motivator in automobiles, it holds promise for electricity generation).

    I’d much prefer to see a Skyactiv turbocharged four in this vehicle, where development costs can be spread between the Mazdaspeed3, RX-7 (and maybe Mazdaspeed6 amd/or MX-5?), and things such as oil consumption and fuel economy would be much improved.


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