For fans of the rotary engine, there is no greater car than the Mazda RX-7. The car used the Wankel’s strengths in a way which no other car has, and its passing in 1998 (2002 in Japan) was mourned by those who believed they would never see such a car again. The RX-8 never even came close to living up to its predecessor, as it wasn’t really a pure sports car.
Now there is finally some good news. Speaking to a crowd at the launch of the facelifted MX-5, Mazda’s sports car chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto announced the 2017 return of the RX-7, according to a story from The Motor Report. Yamamoto added that the same year would mark the 50th anniversary of the first rotary-powered Mazda, the Cosmo Sport, in 1967. Yamamoto designed the engine from the old RX-7, helped the factory racing effort which led to a win at Bathurst for the RX-7, and even designed the rotary engine for the 787B, the only Japanese car to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The new RX-7 is Yamamoto’s baby, and it’s safe to say the nameplate is in safe hands with him.
Mazda has had a new rotary engine since 2007, known as the 16X, but they haven’t yet put it into a production car. The 13B Renesis engine from the RX-8 is a completely different engine, and smaller as well, displacing 1.3 liters to the 16X’s 1.6 liters. Yamamoto says the new engine is good for 300 horsepower in naturally-aspirated form, but he wouldn’t say whether a version with forced induction will make it under the hood. What he did say is that the car is likely to appear only in naturally-aspirated form at first, and that a turbo version would come later if at all. Hybrid options were brought up, but Yamamoto dismissed them outright, saying they had no place on pure sports car.
The car will share a platform with the next-generation MX-5, although it will be bigger and heavier. But the car will still be very light, and Yamamoto suggested that it will similar in weight to the Scion FR-S. The construction will make extensive use of aluminum, but exotic materials like carbon fiber were deemed cost prohibitive. Just the same, the Rx-7 will not be cheap, and we’re told to expect a price above that of the Nissan 370Z, which starts at $33,000.