1999 Mazda RX-7Enlarge Photo
Mazda is working on a new rotary engine, and is expected to debut it next year. It will serve as a range-extender for an electric car, which will most likely be based on the next-generation Mazda3.
This is a sad future for an engine that has powered some of the greatest sports and race cars ever known, including a Le Mans winner.
According to one of Mazda’s top engineers, the rotary’s future is much brighter than simply being a range-extender for an eco machine. Speaking with The Motor Report, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager for the Mazda MX-5, confirmed that a new RX-7 sports car was in the works and that it will be launched in 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the Mazda Cosmo Sport, Mazda’s first rotary-powered car and the first volume production car to feature such an engine.
Yamamoto has a very long history with the rotary engine. He was the powertrain manager for the last RX-7, and he also designed the engine in the Le Mans-winning 787B race car.
Mazda rotary engineEnlarge Photo
Yamamoto explained that special catalytic converters and Mazda’s latest SKYACTIV technology will help the new rotary engine be much more fuel-efficient than previous versions. He also said there would be no hybrid tech on the RX-7 due to its intended purist sports car positioning.
To keep development costs low, the car is expected to utilize a stretched version of the platform underpinning the next-generation MX-5. Overall weight could be less than 2,800 pounds.
In the U.S. the next RX-7 is expected to come as a strict two-seater, while in other markets a 2+2 seating arrangement will be offered.
Sadly, five more years is still a very, very long time to wait.
1967 Mazda Cosmo 110SEnlarge Photo