Mazda produced the RX-7 from 1978 to 2002 and, compared to the RX-8, it did very well. Now, after almost ten years, the Japanese company will bring back the RX-7 DNA with the launch of a new sports car called the RX-9. And, however chronologically deficient it may be, the RX-9 is being made as a successor to the RX-7 and not the RX-8. We should be seeing this new model hit the streets as soon as the RX-8 bids adieu to the market.
The RX-9 is rumored to be built in the image of the most recent RX-7, the highly regarded version championed by the legendary "Koby" Kobayakawa, which went out of production in 2002. And, unlike the RX-8, it will be a two-door coupe model and not a complicated four-door coupe. Under the hood, Mazda will place the now famous 16X rotary engine.
Expect an official debut to be made in 2012, with sales to begin in late 2013.
UPDATE 05/25/2011: MotorTrend is reporting that the future Mazda RX-9 sports car will be using hybrid technology borrowed from Toyota, thanks in part to an agreement the automakers signed last year. Apparently Mazda will only use Toyota’s hybrid drive unit as power booster and range extender, but the vehicle’s main power will come from the Mazda-built rotary.
UPDATE 06/01/2011: We know everyone got very excited about a possible future RX-9, but Mazda has denied all rumors associated with the production of this vehicle. According to the company, there are no plans for such a vehicle, and moreover, the very future of the rotary engine at Mazda is in jeopardy. The RX-8 is also preparing for a very sad end after a very unsuccessful history, but some good news is on the horizon as there is a good possibility that we will see a successor for the RX-7. This vehicle will share its platform with the future generation MX-5 and it is expected to be revealed in about two years. (CarAndDriver)
Hit the jump for some specifics on the new RX-9.
Exterior and Interior
The new sports car will be built on an MX-5 chassis and will weigh no more than 1250 kilos, with a design language stemming from the company’s latest concept cars, including the Shinari which made its debut only two months ago.
We expect to see the company’s well known front grille and the "signature wing", new headlamps with LED lights, and a generally sporty appearance. For the interior, we hope to get sports seats, a sporty steering wheel, leather, and why not go ahead and throw in a few aluminum inserts.
Under the hood, Mazda will place a 16X rotary engine rumored to be attached to an electric supercharger. This engine will feature an 800cc x 2 configuration, up from the current 13B’s 654cc x 2 format. It will deliver around 300 HP, while the fuel economy will be improved by 20%, leaving behind the main reason why the RX8 needed to be discontinued. The engine will be mated to a new twin-clutch, two-pedal six-speed transmission with a twist that allows drivers to set the revs at which the clutches engage.
It is also rumored that the RX-9 will be offered with a Honda-style gas/electric hybrid system that will not only include a regenerative braking system to charge the batteries when coasting and decelerating, but also an engine stop/start system that will help improve the fuel economy. This rumor has already been confirmed by a Mazda insider who in a previous interview said : "We’re testing the rotary in conjunction with technologies including an electric turbocharger."
The RX-9 will be offered with 17- or 18-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and stability/traction control.
Compared to the RX-8 who targeted models like the Volkswagen Scirocco, the new RX-9 will focus on competing with models like the Nissan 370Z. Do we smell a Japanese sports car war? We think so. But let’s not let them have all the fun, German sports cars like the Audi TT will also have reasons to fear the new RX-9.
When can I buy one?
The new RX-9 will make its world debut in 2012, and customers will receive their first units in 2013.