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by Jay Traugott
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first Mazda rotary engine, the Japanese automaker is planning a new RX-7 sports car for 2017.
If the early reports prove accurate, then Mazda is already at work in resurrecting its RX-7 rotary-powered sports car for 2017. Mazda's sportscar chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto told the Motor Report at the Sydney Motor Show that not only is such a car in development, but that it'll return in time for the 50th anniversary of Mazda's first rotary-engined car. That first car was the 1967 Cosmo Sport, and if that 2017 date proves accurate, then it would have also been 15 years since the RX-7 was discontinued.
The new RX-7 will supposedly draw its power from the automaker's latest Wankel engine, the 16X, which was officially revealed back in 2007. It has yet to see use in a production car, and the upcoming occasion seems like the ideal time to make that happen. This new 1.6-liter rotary engine is reportedly capable of producing up to 300 horsepower without requiring the use of a turbocharger. Yamamoto is not in favor of turbocharging, claiming that he prefers the linearity of power delivery instead of the inevitable turbo lag. Although it hasn't been confirmed, AutoGuide
also notes that hybrid and Wankel technology would work very well together.
Since rotary Wankels run at constant speeds, this could in turn generate electrical power. The issue of reliability is also something to be worked out because previous Wankel engines required a lot of maintenance, including frequent oil changes. Failing to do so would result in major problems. If Mazda has decided on whether to utilize hybrid technology at some level, then it's choosing to keep it quiet for now. Expected to borrow a stretched version of the platform that will underpin the next-gen MX-5 Miata, the new RX-7 would likely be a strict two-seater for North America and Europe, but pack a small rear bench for the Japanese version.
Weight is also a vital factor for performance and handling, so Yamamoto is targeting around 2,700 pounds - the same weight as the Scion FR-S. Pricing is projected to come in at a competitive $33,000.