Father Of The Mazda Rotary, Kenichi Yamamoto, Passes Away at 95
On December 20th, Kenichi Yamamoto, a true icon in the world of Japanese automobiles, passed away at his home in Japan. He was 95 years old. Yamamoto is often credited as the driving force behind the creation of such incredible Mazdas as the Cosmo, the RX-2, the RX-3, the RX-4, the RX-7, and the 787B race car, earning him the nickname “Father of the Mazda Rotary.”
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New Rumors Point To 2019 Release Of Mazda RX-9, Tokyo Motor Show Debut
When you get right down to it, Mazda’s lineup is just begging for a new RX. Never mind the demands from the fan boys – here we have an automaker that infuses each and every model its got with a little “zoom-zoom” magic, from its sedans to its SUVs. At the moment, the sportiest Mazda on the market is the MX-5, one of the most epic compact drop-tops that money can buy. But in an age of four-figure hypercars, the 155-horse MX-5 can’t always cut the mustard, no matter how well it handles. What Mazda needs now is something bigger, faster, and more powerful, a coupe with the soul of the Miata, but the beating heart of a high-end performance machine. Something like, I dunno, a new RX? Welp, rumor has it that’s exactly what we might get in October at the Tokyo Motor Show, with an on-sale date sometime in 2019.
That’s the news from our friends over at Motor 1, who cite “several Web sites in Asia” claiming Mazda might introduce a new generation of its rotary sports car this year. Of course, Motor 1 is quick to point out that the rumors are flimsy at best, and to take them with an appropriately sized grain of salt. But hey, hope springs eternal, especially amongst RX fans, so read on for some of the juicy details.
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Mazda Says No To Rotary Engine and Larger Sports Car
Mazda is famous for many things, but the rotary-engined sports cars are the company’s most iconic creations to date. So, it’s by no means surprising that enthusiasts have been clamoring for a successor to the RX-8 ever since the four-door coupe was discontinued in 2012. However, despite recent rumors that the Japanese automaker is working on a rotary sports car, it seems that Mazda doesn’t have any actual plans to build a production model.
Speaking to Automotive News, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai broke heartbreaking news for rotary fans, saying that Mazda isn’t yet ready to produce an engine that would meet future emissions regulations.
"We ended production of the RX-8 with the rotary engine. But if we were to restart production of the rotary engine again, we need to make sure it wouldn’t be just short-lived. We need it to meet future emissions regulations. We are still conducting our r&d activity to overcome any issues we have with emissions and fuel efficiency," he said, adding that a range-extender rotary is more likely to arrive first.
"Considering regulations such as the zero-emissions vehicle mandate, electrification is a technology we need to introduce in the near future. The range extender would be the first," he added.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop here, as Kogai also told the outlet that a larger sports car that would slot above the MX-5 is out of the question right now. Kogai’s firm "No" comes as a blow to the head following reports claiming that the gorgeous RX-Vision Concept is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2019 with the RX-7 moniker. Needless to say, it could still happen in the future, but Kogai made it clear that such a car isn’t even on the drawing table. It may take a while...
Rotary aside, the CEO also confirmed that Mazda is working on a new generation of SkyActiv technologies that will find its way into production cars by March 2019. The Japanese carmaker also wants to move upmarket and distinguish itself from the other mainstream brands from the country. This overhaul will begin with the next-generation Mazda6, Mazda3, and CX-3, which are set to get "major updates."
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Next-Gen Mazda3 to Take DNA from Mazda RX-Vision Concept
When Mazda unveiled the RX-Vision at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, car enthusiasts all over the world began dreaming about a next-generation RX-7 that would include many of the concept’s spectacular styling cues. And, with Mazda having already confirmed that a rotary-engined RX-7 is indeed underway, a production-ready version of the RX-Vision is still a few years away. More recently though, the Japanese automaker revealed that the concept will inspire more vehicles from the company’s lineup, the first of which will be the next-generation Mazda3.
That’s the word from Mazda’s newly-appointed North American design director, Julien Montousse. Speaking to CarBuzz, which asked him whether the RX-Vision will become more than just a design study, Montousse confirmed that the some of its styling cues will find their way on future products.
"The RX-Vision is a breakthrough in Mazda design. We wanted to expand and capture more sophistication and the wow factor. This is the next evolutionary step for our Kodo design language. We wanted to generate an emotional reaction from the public. This design direction will inspire the future Mazda lineup, such as the next Mazda3," he said.
This is definitely great news as the RX-Vision is quite the gorgeous concept, even if the next Mazda3 won’t be as sleek and sporty. So, what are we to expect from this mash-up? Among the first things that Mazda will probably transfer from the RX-Vision onto the Mazda3 will be the larger front grille and the slim headlamps with thin LED inserts carved into the body. The compact could also get the blacked-out trim, most likely on its more expensive models, and a sportier roofline. I don’t see the concept’s taillights making it on the Mazda3, but the rear end should also get slimmer light units to go with the sportier design.
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Mazda RX-9 Tipped For 2020 Launch
Either dreams do come true or Mazda has been manipulating us all along. Four months after the automaker’s global director and senior managing executive officer Yuji Nakemine doused rumors of an RX sports car, a new report from Japan’s Holiday Auto magazine indicates that the long-awaited sports car successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 is actually going to be built.
According to the magazine, the model will be called the RX-9 and it will be launched on January 2020 as one of the highlights of the Japanese automaker’s upcoming 100th anniversary. The full details surrounding the new sports car have yet to be revealed, but some interesting nuggets of information have been mentioned, none more important that Mazda’s plan to use a new 1.6-liter twin-rotary engine that may or may not come with turbocharging and compression ignition. It is believed that the powertrain will be able to produce around 400 horsepower. A previous rumor indicated that the powertrain will actually come in a hybrid setup to allow electric turbocharging. That said, the new report from Holiday Auto made no mention of that specific configuration.
The magazine did say that Mazda is looking at a weight of no more than 1,300 kilos (2,204 pounds) for the RX-9. The objective, it appears, is to keep the weight as low as possible to improve the car’s aerodynamics and maximize the potential of the new rotary engine. Such a setup would make the RX-9 a potent performance coupe that can live up to the expectations of being one of the highlights of the company’s centenary celebrations.
A concept version has been touted to make an appearance at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show with the final production model scheduled to appear two years later at the same show.
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Mazda Douses Rumors Of RX Sports Car
Rumors of the Mazda’s plan to bring back a new RX sports car may be only that for now. Excited as we all are about these whispers, Mazda Corporation’s global director and senior managing executive officer, Yuji Nakemine, has turned the tables on that enthusiasm, saying that the company has no “specific plans” to create a production model of the Mazda RX-Vision, the concept that was rumored to pave the way for the return of the RX sports coupe.
Speaking with CarAdvice Australia, Nakemine described the intention behind the RX-Vision concept as nothing more but a “dream of bringing that to market in the future.” While there may still be hope of seeing the return of the RX down the road, it appears that Mazda isn’t in any rush to do it at the moment. Nakemine touched on a handful of reasons behind this stance and it appears that priorities and money are the biggest obstacles the company is facing in bringing back the RX.
At the moment, the Japanese automaker’s remains on the MX-5, the iconic sports carthat is only entering the beginning of its current generation run. Even if the MX-5 essentially sells itself in a lot of markets, Mazda is still keeping an eye out on what it can do to make those sales volumes grow. Having another model to deal with will shift some of that focus, something the automaker can’t afford to do if it hopes to make “good money” off of the MX-5.
On that note, the issue with money and the status of the RX is a real one. Nakemine made that point very clear when he said that developing a new sports car that will carry the RX badge takes a lot of money to do. Not that the company is cash-strapped at the moment, but there is that belief within Mazda that unless it can provide the finances to fund engineering and development resources, it’s not going to jump into those waters just because there’s public demand to do it.
As the executive said, the RX-Vision is an important concept for Mazda, not only because of the response it received when it was unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, but more importantly because of what it could turn into when the company recalibrates its priorities.
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Patent Application Reveals Mazda’s Plan To Bring Back Rotary Engine
This may be jumping the gun a little considering that Mazda itself hasn’t made any confirmation past promises that it’s “doing all it can to bring a rotary to the market” but if this recent patent application by the Japanese automaker tells us anything, it’s that the rotary’s return could happen sooner than later. Granted, nothing has been confirmed yet and there are enough reasons to believe that this patent, as clear and concrete as it looks, should still not be treated as gospel. At least not yet.
About the engine, a long and thorough look at the patent reveals a few important things about its particular design. For starters, Mazda has swapped the locations of the intake port and the exhaust port. Older designs of the Wankel had the intake port at the top of the engine, while the exhaust port resided down low. The rationale behind the switch seems to be catered on Mazda’s desire for easier engine mounting, which in turn helps improve the car’s overall center of gravity.
You’ll also notice that the space from the exhaust port to the turbocharger is a little shorter now. It’s unclear why Mazda designed it like this, but my guess is that it has something to do with ensuring less turbo lag while also allowing for a close-mounted catalyst to sit on top of the engine and help overall emissions, arguably the most glaring problem of the old Wankels.
Clearly, Mazda designed this patent with the intention of using the rotary engine in a future model. That’s the exciting part. What’s less certain is which model it’s going to use it on. Could it be on a production version of the RX-Vision Concept that we saw at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show? All signs seem to point to the returning RX as the car-of-choice that’ll get the new rotary engines, but until Mazda gives the official word, it’s important to remember this is still just a patent application, and more importantly, that Mazda’s plans are still unknown.
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Love Comes In The Form Of This 1973 Mazda RX-3: Video
The love affair between man and car has once again been captured by the fine folks over at Petrolicious. This time, the spotlight focuses on mixed martial artist Savant Young and his 1973 Mazda RX-3. Fans of Jay Leno’s Garage might remember this exact car appearing in an episode back in August 2015 and though some months have passed since we last saw it, the car hasn’t lost its appeal whatsoever.
First, here’s a little refresher about the car. The Mazda RX-3 Savanna was sold in the U.S. from 1971 to 1978 and was regarded as the rotary-engined version of the 808 Grand Familia. It was also considered as a quality race car in its day, thanks in large part to its ability to crank out as much as 105 horsepower, a number that was pretty high at that time.
Young’s RX3 still exudes that same 70’s hatchback spirit, even if the MMA fighter himself admitted that it’s been through extensive upgrades and modifications. He’s dropped the car’s engine entirely, instead fitting a rotary engine running gear from the second-generation Mazda RX-7 and installing a turbocharger. He also made changes to the body, specifically the rear end, which was actually taken from a Toyota Hilux half-ton pickup. Even the wheels and tires are new, as are the brakes, which are now made from aerospace components. Even the car’s color was lifted from Lamborghini’s color palette.
As many changes as the car has undergone in the 15 years that Young has owned it, what remains is the driver’s affection for his one-of-a-kind ride. It may not be the fastest car or the most-modern looking. It doesn’t even handle quite well on tight corners as Young himself admitted. But, in his eyes, it’s the only car worth caring about. That’s the kind of love affair between man and car that really transcends the traditional relationships between the two.
New Mazda RX Sports Car Could Come With A Turbocharged Rotary Engine
Rumors are meant to be debunked, and yet something about this doozy of a twist has us wishing it would come true. Apparently, there has been a lot of whispers coming out of Mazda surrounding the return of the company’s rotary engine. Now this isn’t the first time that such a rumor has come out, but according to Australian auto site Motoring, the unorthodox engine could be making a comeback to coincide with the return of an RX-badged sports car.
Without diving into any specifics, Mazda’s drivetrain and powertrain assistant manager Tetsushi Marutani told Motoring that the Japanese automaker is currently working on a new rotary engine that could be configured to come with a pair of turbochargers. Marutani-san notes that rotary engines don’t carry the same amount of low-speed torque as other engines. The idea of slapping on a turbocharger or two to the configuration could help it achieve the power level it needs for use on the new RX while also improving fuel economy.
The Mazda exec didn’t dive into the details of the engine, but a separate Mazda source indicated that Mazda is developing a 1.6-liter, hybrid, turbocharged, rotary engine that will make close to 450 horsepower. The hybrid setup would allow electric turbocharging to add power at low RPM levels while a traditional turbocharger would be used at high RPM levels.
Such a scenario addresses Marutani’s concerns and would make the new RX fit for the current climate of the industry, something Mazda knows will be important in determining how the new sports car will be received by the public.
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Over the past few months, Petrolicious has featured some of the world’s most overlooked classic vehicles. Yes, for every Porsche 911 or Mazda MX-5, there’s an Aston Martin DBS V8 or a Porsche 912. The point of each of these episodes isn’t so much about the cars itself, but the stories behind these cars, as told by their owners. The most recent episode follows that template and features Jason Humble and his 1971 Mazda RX-2.
For those who don’t remember, the Mazda RX-2, otherwise known as the Mazda 626, was first built in 1970 and lasted six generations until 2002. It was eventually replaced by the model we now refer to as the Mazda 6. Ok, enough history lessons because this particular episode of Petrolicious isn’t a history lesson of the car, but rather touches on the relationship between Humble and his beloved RX-2. Unlike most stories about car owners and their favorite cars, Humble’s story with the RX-2 began after he bought the car as a bare shell and worked on restoring it back to its old, pristine glory. It took him three years to do it, but once the Herschel Orange paint dried on the RX-2’s body, Humble used it to compete in vintage racing in 2005 against the likes of the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaros.
Racing roots aside, Humbles devotion to his RX-2 is the other fascinating part about this episode. According to the man himself, cleaning his RX-2 has become a daily routine for him, not because of vanity reasons but because he just wants his car to look as spic and span all day, every day.
Do check out this episode and after watching it, ask yourself this question: am I as devoted to my car as Jason Humble is to his Mazda RX-2? After a little while, you’ll be surprised at your answer.
Mazda’s highly anticipated sports car concept has been unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, confirming that the Japanese automaker is set to not only revive the RX nameplate, but also bring a mass-produced rotary engine to the market. Dubbed RX-VISION concept, the sleek looking sports car previews the fourth-generation RX-7 and the brand’s next-generation rotary engine.
Though Mazda’s press release for the RX-VISION concept was rather brief, our friends over at Top Gear managed to obtain more details from Kiyoshi Fujiwara — the company’s head of R&D — who confirmed that the production car will indeed wear the RX-7 badge.
“Will it be called RX-9? Well, all previous RX-7s have been two or 2+2 seaters and the RX-8 was a four-seater, so what would that make RX-9? A six-seater? This concept is a two-seater so you can imagine which number fits best,” he said.
Fujiwara also divulged precious information about the next-generation SkyActiv-R rotary engine, the car’s curb weight, and the segment the production model will compete in, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out more about that.
Continue reading to learn more about the Mazda RX-VISION Concept.
Having just unveiled the Koeru concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Mazda has announced yet another premier for the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October. This time around though, the Japanese will launch a concept car that previews a future sports car.
"Mazda’s latest creation clearly embodies the carmaker’s lineage. Designers strove to condense the company’s sports car history to as great a degree as possible into this concept," is all Mazda had to say about the new concept, while releasing a shadowy teaser of a slick coupe.
Though I can’t see any details below the waist, the concept is obviously a full-fledged grand tourer employing a long engine hood, a sloping roof, and a short rear deck. The vehicle also features a pair of taillights placed high into the rear fascia, a detail that seems borrowed from the RX-7. Down below, a pair of big, round exhaust tips are visible, suggesting the grand tourer will pack a powerful engine.
Even though there’s no official confirmation as of yet, it seems as if Mazda is finally working on a closed-top sports car to fill the gap the brand has in its lineup since it discontinued the RX-8 in 2012. But will this new vehicle be a spiritual successor to the RX-8 or another sports car from Mazda’s past?
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After it made the decision to end the RX-8’s production back in 2011, Mazda has been left without a single model to feature rotary power, but various reports seem to suggest that the Japanese carmaker still considers this type of engine viable for a future sequel to the RX-7. The latest rumor supporting this statement comes from Autocar, who recently had a word with Kenichiro Saruwatari, vice-president of European R&D at Mazda.
According to Saruwatari, Mazda still keeps a department of 30 engineers developing rotary engine projects, and suggested that they may be also working on a model to be unveiled in 2020, when the carmaker will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Naturally you should take this information with a grain of salt, as a rotary-powered RX-7 successor is mostly speculative by Autocar. Since the skunworks rotary team is limited in number of engineers, Mazda is actively employing the services of Japanese universities, while none other than NASA is apparently its partner in terms of material technologies.
Some Mazda purists may remember that the material used on the tips of the RX-8’s engine "pistons" was actually specified by NASA. According to Autocar’s speculation on the matter, the future rotary-powered Mazda is likely to employ either the RX-7 or the RX-6 moniker, in order to indicate a smaller, lightweight, two-seater likely positioned slightly above the Toyobaru segment of sports cars.
Click past the jump to read more about the future Mazda rotary plans.
The chance of Mazda’s rotary-powered, RX-8 sports car getting a second chance at life just got its coffin nailed shut. The news comes by way of Mazda Motor Corporation’s CEO Masamichi Kogai. The money-minded leader says the automaker will focus on making its current lineup of products better with continuous updates while making them more fuel-efficient and sporty with its Skyactiv technologies.
In an interview with Automotive News, Kogai said Mazda’s seven-vehicle lineup is almost stretched to its max and that it is time to focus on a new generation of improvements. Kogai is working with a rather limited budget after Mazda’s rough decline, and in his opinion, adding more vehicles to the mix isn’t the right solution.
"We don’t have that kind of vehicle [the RX-8] in our future product plan," he said. "If you increase the number of segments, then the resources we can allocate to each will decline and that will prevent us from developing truly good products." He followed up with a poignant baseball reference, "We don’t need a home run, if each player hits a single."
This isn’t to say Mazda is now in the business of making boring cars. Don’t forget the newly released, fourth-generation MX-5 Miata, along with the sporty little CX-3 subcompact crossover and the surprisingly fun Mazda 2 hatchback.
Kogai’s main focus is on restoring the automaker’s financial freedom through increasing sales volume while holding down pricing incentives. Perhaps once the company is back on solid ground, more “homerun”-style vehicles will make their appearance. For now, we’ll just have to wait.
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Mazda has been without a rotary-powered car in its lineup since the RX-8 ceased production in 2012, According to Australian site Motoring, however, we could see not one, but two new rotary-powered models by the end of the decade in the form of a new RX-7 in 2017 and an all new model called the RX-9 in 2020.
Further fueling the speculation, Mazda has registered both names at a patent office near the company’s headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan.
“We want to surprise everyone in 2017 with something special to celebrate the birth of rotary," a Mazda executive told Motoring. "Then, to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday, we want to take it to another level in 2020."
Mazda aficionados might know that the “birth of the rotary” he refers to is the Mazda Cosmo, Mazda’s first rotary-powered car, which debuted in 1967. A new rotary-powered concept in 2017 would correspond nicely with the 50-year anniversary of the Cosmos. Like the original, the 2017 RX-7 will be sporty, compact coupe that uses evolved styling queues from in the recently debuted MX-5. Motoring goes on to suggest the RX-7 will debut as a concept that previews a production version called the RX-9, slated to arrive in 2020.
Click past the jump to read more about the future Mazda RX-7 and RX-9.
Mazda global design chief Ikuo Maeda has made it clear that he wants to bring back the company’s RX series. You can’t blame the man for his sentiments. After all, he was the man behind the RX-8, and his father was the design force behind the RX-7. There’s an evident family connection there, and Maeda isn’t hiding his desire to bring back the RX after Mazda discontinued the RX-8 in 2012.
But saying it and convincing the Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai are two very different things. According to Automotive News, any progress toward bringing the RX series back begins with the advent of a new rotary engine. In other words, no rotary engine means no RX revival. Maeda himself acknowledged this, saying that the “R” in the ‘RX’ nomenclature stands for "rotary." What’s the use of bringing back the RX series if it’s only going to get the company’s new SkyActiv engines. Sure, these engines are clean and sporty, but they don’t have the characteristics of those old rotary engines.
Maeda could probably make a better case if Mazda engineers are anywhere close to developing rotary engines that fully adhere to today’s emissions regulations. Unfortunately, Mazda is no closer to doing that than I am of completing a 3-km run in under 20 minutes.
Kogai also indicated that the RX series would only be revived if there was adequate demand for it. By "adequate," the Mazda CEO means 100,000 units sold oer year. That’s a pretty big number, more so for a model whose slumping sales largely contributed to it being retired in the first place.
Clearly, there are a lot of obstacles Mazda has to overcome before it makes sense to bring back the RX series. But don’t tell that to Maeda. For him, there will always be hope.
"I will never give up," he told Automotive News. "Inside my head, I’m always going over shapes."
Click past the jump to read more about Mazda’s future RX car.
The Wankel engine appears to have a bright future ahead as Mazda spills the beans about a revival of the rotary in an upcoming replacement for the sporty RX-8. U.K.-based AutoExpress says the automaker is eschewing the idea of turbocharging its rotary in favor of its trendy and efficient ‘SkyActiv’ engineering methods. Though no solid details have been confirmed, Mazda seems to have conveyed a few "understandings" to AE in regards to the car’s structure and engine performance targets.
Besides the high-revving rotary, the upcoming car is said to be based on a stretched version of the soon-to-be-unveiled, next-gen MX-5 Miata. It’s likely the chassis will have to undergo some strengthening in order to deal with the larger amounts of horsepower. Though it will be beefed up, Mazda will surely work hard to keep the new vehicle under the old RX-8’s 2,888-pound curb weight.
The RX-8 replacement is expected to hit showrooms for the 2017 model year after it makes its world debut in 2016.
Click past the jump to read Mazda’s powertrain performance targets.
Just before Christmas we reported that the Mazda RX-7 will be revealed in 2011 and it will replace the RX-8 sports car. Now, according to Cars UK, Mazda will also reveal the RX-9, a sports car, that according to the British magazine makes "more sense."
Of course is not the first time you hear about a possible RX-9, first rumors appeared at the beginning of the year. The RX-9 will be powered by a Renesis 16X engine that will deliver a total of 350 hp. The car could also take advantage of new technology that would improve the fuel consumption by twenty percent of the traditionally gas-hungry rotary engine.
The Mazda RX-9 is an advanced concept that came out on top in this year’s Michelin Design Challenge.
Mazda’s tires will feature Electroactive Polymers (E.A.P.) that with varying levels of voltage from the vehicle’s electrical system can actually change the shape and depth of their tread pattern. The rubber donuts can go from flat and smooth to knobby and grippy, or even ride high on their centers for ultra-low rolling (...)
Mazda Motor Corporation has delivered one RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicle each to its first two corporate customers for this model, Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, and Iwatani International Corporation in Osaka, Japan.
RX-8 Hydrogen RE cars are equipped with a rotary engine and feature a dual-fuel system that allows the driver to select either hydrogen or gasoline with the flick of a switch. The vehicles that have been leased to Mazda’s first two corporate fleet customers are based on Mazda’s (...)