Mazda RX Regresses

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

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. 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.

Cammy Corrigan
Cammy Corrigan

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  • Ccd2 Ccd2 on Jan 11, 2010

    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.

  • AJ AJ on Jan 29, 2010

    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)

  • RotaryMan91 RotaryMan91 on May 17, 2010

    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.

  • Jew_weller Jew_weller on May 19, 2012

    mmm... yummy....