Right now, a group of designers and engineers in Hiroshima are supposedly working on Mazda’s next sports car with a rotary engine. Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the company’s car chief, let it slip a couple of months ago that a “new RX-7” is on the cards for 2017.
This means it's still four years away. That’s an eternity in the automotive world and many things can change until then. Especially those that, as Yamamoto acknowledged, are “not carved in stone”… Well, they’d better be.
Just as most mass-market manufacturers are joining the sports car segment in a hurry, Mazda left the party after production of the RX-8 ceased two years ago.
Toyota has rolled out the 86/GT86 and Scion FR-S trio and has generated more publicity than any Auris, Corolla or Camry ever will – and we guess it will do so for quite some time.
Its Lexus division has lost money on each and every one of the 500 LFAs it has built, in spite of being so pricey that it made Ferraris suddenly look like a bargain.
However, it enabled it to compete in the major league and mix it with Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. That’s something that can’t be measured in yens, dollars or euros. More than a decade ago, the third-generation RX-7 enabled Mazda to mix it with Porsche, too.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made the new GT-R a top priority. Its sales figures are merely a blip on Nissan’s world sales map. Trumping Porsche’s 911 Turbo in the Nürburgring, though, earned it its supercar stripes. That’s from a carmaker which is making the Tiida…
Honda is bringing back the NSX. Even Alfa Romeo, which is on life support until 2015, at which point it will supposedly make its big comeback, will roll out the 4C mid-engined sports car this year. GM has made tons of noise about the new Corvette Stingray and so has Chrysler about the new SRT Viper.
Mazda seems to have put the Wankel project on the backburner and concentrate all their efforts on the new Skyactiv gasoline and diesel engines instead. The 13B-MPS Renesis that powered the RX-8 is now on display in the Mazda Museum.
Surely, they don’t need us to remind them of the Wankel heritage, the Le Mans-winning 787B that wowed the crowds when it showed up at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed 20 years after crossing the line first at La Sarthe or the fan base of the RX-7 (mostly) or even the RX-8.
The rotary engine’s place is not in a museum but under the hood of a 21st century sports car spinning towards that sky-high redline. Apart from a halo car for Mazda, it will also give that GT 86/FR-S/BRZ even Clarkson is raving about the competition they currently lack...
By Andrew Tsaousis