If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, then the Mazda RX-7 is definitely the car that has launched a thousand rumors about being resurrected since its discontinuation a decade ago.
Even though it was replaced by the more practical, and still rotary-engine-powered, RX-8 in 2004, the hardcore RX-7 still holds a special place in the hearts of many sports car lovers around the world.
Since August 2011, when production of the RX-8 ceased, Mazda, the sole champion of rotary engines, does not have such a model in its line-up.
RX-7 fans will nevertheless be delighted to hear that the Hiroshima-based carmaker’s chief of sports car division Nobuhiro Yamamoto told The Motor Report during the launch of the revamped MX-5 roadster in Australia that the RX-7 is set to return in 2017.
The year coincides with the 50th anniversary of Mazda’s first Wankel-engined model, the Cosmo Sport, in 1967. Yamamoto, who also led the development of the 26B engine that powered the 787B to victory at Le Mans in 1991, said that specs of the fourth-generation RX-7 are not yet carved in stone.
The 1.3-liter 13B Renesis that powered the RX-8 will be dumped in favor of a development of the 16X, a 1.6-liter unit that despite being unveiled five years ago, hasn’t been used in any of Mazda’s production models yet.
According to Yamamoto, by using a special catalyst the new engine won’t have a problem meeting the stricter Euro VI emission regulations that will come into effect in 2017.
He added that the 16X motor is capable of producing 295HP (300PS, 220 Kw) – and that’s in normally aspirated form. Since his priorities are instant throttle response and linear power delivery, turbocharging is not very high in his agenda.
Yamamoto didn’t completely rule it out, though: “At this time, it has not been determined. Maybe later in life it will be turbo, but to start with maybe not”.
Built on a modified version of the next-generation MX-5 platform, the 2017 RX-7 “would definitely be lighter” than the third-generation model and “probably around the weight of the Toyota 86”, which means about 1,250 kg (2,750 pounds).
This will be made possible by the extended use of lightweight materials like aluminum. Carbon fiber won’t be employed due to its high cost, and hybrid or KERS systems are off the cards, too, because Yamamoto believes that the engine “for a pure sports car, it must be internal combustion.”
Although the GT86 was mentioned, Mazda’s sports car chief said that the new RX-7 won’t come cheap as it’s designed to be a premium product.
By Andrew Tsaousis
Thanks to Anthony for the tip!