The Mazda RX-7 was introduced in 1978 as replacement for the Savanna RX-7. The sports car joined the company’s lineup as the second vehicle to feature a Wankel rotary engine, being sold alongside the Cosmo luxury coupe. Initially powered by a 1.1-liter unit, the first-generation RX-7 received a larger, 1.3-liter engine rated at 133 horsepower later in its life. In 1983, two years before the second-gen model was introduced, a turbo version of the 1.1-liter delivered as much as 163 ponies. A redesigned model followed in 1986. The 1.1-liter engine was dropped, while the 1.3-liter version received a turbocharger of its own. Power ranged between 146 and 202 horsepower, although the latter was only offered between 1989 and 1991. 1992 marked the introduction of the third-generation model and a hefty update to the already proven 13B rotary engine. Output now began from 252 horsepower and went up to 276 in the third-generation’s final years. The RX-7 was axed in 2002, as Mazda was working on the RX-8. As we move into 2015 and toward a completely redesigned Miata MX-5 , more and more rumors about Mazda’s plans to revive the RX-7 nameplate as a successor to the RX-8 and develop a new, high-performance rotary engine are starting to surface.
Note: Mazda RX-8 pictured here.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2017 Mazda RX-7.
A 449-Horsepower Porsche 911 Rival?
According to Australian outlet Motoring, the next-generation RX-7 could arrive in showrooms as soon as 2017. That’s not exactly surprising, as Mazda has been considering it for a long time, but the report adds the Japanese automaker is developing a new engine too. The powerplant is expected to feature a radical twin-scroll turbocharged rotary design and generate as much as 449 horsepower. That’s a huge improvement over any rotary unit Mazda has developed so far and it would turn the RX-7 into a suitable rival for the Porsche 911.
A signature Mazda, muscular fenders and a low profile design will highlight this new RX-7, which will ditch any connection with its ancestors.
To stand a chance against the German sports car, the upcoming coupe will be quite different when compared to both the third-generation RX-7 and the RX-8. Specifically, Mazda plans to decrease the vehicle’s length to that approaching an MX-5 in order to provide the chassis with as much rigidity as possible. The current Miata is 158 inches long, so expect the next RX-7 to sit between that and the length of the RX-8 at around 165 inches. Along with the new chassis will come an aerodynamic body taking inspiration from Mazda’s Kodo design language. A signature Mazda, muscular fenders and a low profile design will highlight this new RX-7, which will ditch any connection with its ancestors.
The sports car is reportedly set to debut in May 2017. That’s not just a random date, as it is when the Mazda Cosmo — the company’s first rotary-powered vehicle — celebrates its 50th birthday. Fingers crossed more details surface sooner than that.
Mazda sure has a lot of guts to aim the RX-7 at the Porsche 911, but considering the huge amount of power rumored to enliven the new rotary engine, we can’t blame it for doing so. In terms of output, and compared to the current 911, the RX-7 would outgun both the Carrera and Carrera S. Powered by a 3.8-liter flat-six, the base model comes with 350 ponies on tap and a 0-to-60-mph sprint of 4.6 seconds. When dropped in the Carrera S, the same engine cranks out 400 horsepower and enables the sports car to reach 60 mph from a standing start in 4.3 seconds with a manual transmission and 4.1 seconds with a PDK.
These figures will improve by 2017, and we can’t accurately predict where they will sit. However, it’s more than obvious that the Mazda RX-7 will need more than just a powerful engine to give the 911 a run for its money. Chassis components and aerodynamics are equally important, as are the amenities and price tag the Japanese sports car will carry. In the mean time, all we know is the 2014 Porsche 911 retails from $84,300.
Gallery Porsche 911
The Jaguar F-Type is another sports car the RX-7 could go against, but only in its less powerful trims. With 550 horses and 502 pound-feet of twist at its disposal, the F-Type R Coupe is definitely out of the RX-7’s league. The F-Type S Coupe, on the other hand, is a bit milder at 380 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. In this version, the oomph comes from a supercharged, 3.0-liter, V-6 engine that mates to a ZF eight-speed automatic. The combo pushes the coupe from naught to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 171 mph.
Numbers aside, the F-Type comes with a performance-tuned chassis and braking system and an array of convenience and safety features few automakers can match. Pricing for the 2014 F-Type begins from $65,000, but the more powerful F-Type S fetches $77,000 before any options.
Gallery Jaguar F-Type Coupe
Although the RX-8 had a remarkable platform underneath its body, the coupe's engine suffered from excessive oil consumption and poor mileage.
Bridging the gap between the third-generation RX-7, which was discontinued in 2002, and the upcoming nameplate revival is the Mazda RX -8. Launched in 2003, the RX-8 was motivated by the same 1.3-liter, Wankel rotary engine as its predecessor. In the first-generation model, output ranged from 189 to 247 horsepower and the engine mated to either a six-speed manual, a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic depending on the market. Designed as a rear-wheel-drive, four-door coupe, the RX-8 became famous due to its rear-hinged, freestyle rear door.
The second-generation model was introduced in 2009 with mild updates. The revised iteration lasted on the market only until 2012, when Mazda put an end to the RX legacy. Although the RX-8 had a remarkable platform underneath its body, the coupe’s engine suffered from excessive oil consumption and poor mileage. Hopefully, that will change with Mazda’s next-generation of rotary units.