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Future models - Mazda - RX-7

Mazda's RX-7 still alive and well

RX fever: Mazda's RX-8 could be sold alongside a new version of RX-7 (inset).

There's room for another generation of the revered RX-7 models at Mazda

13 Aug 2002

THE Mazda RX-7 nameplate is not dead and there is a good chance we may see it grace a Mazda sports car model again.

When the RX-Evolv concept car and its subsequent production derivative, the RX-8 four-seat sportscar, first appeared, the general consensus held those cars as being a replacement for the revered RX-7, especially as there was a natural progression of the RX naming convention.

But while both the 7 and 8 share svelte, free-flowing styling and rotary engine power, it would appear now that the RX-8 is a distinct model in its own right and there remains room for another generation of RX-7 models further down the line.

"RX-8 was chosen to leave RX-7 available for another generation," a Mazda Motor Corporation senior executive told Australian journalists at the international launch of the Mazda2.

"If the RX-8 was called RX-7, it would totally confuse the public and ruin the RX-7 nameplate for future sports car use." The third generation RX-7 is still being built, but it is only sold on the Japan domestic market, having been discontinued in Australia in early 1999.

Given the success of the RX-7 nameplate - it spanned three model generations across four decades - it stands to reason that Mazda would want its hero car to continue, especially in light of the company's revived emphasis on producing exciting, dynamic and stylish cars.

The RX-8, meanwhile, is due to be launched internationally in the early part of 2003, before going on sale in Australia about five months later in May or June.

It will take over the company's rotary engine legacy from the RX-7 with a new generation "Renesis" rotary that is smaller and lighter than the previous 13B turbo powerplant.

A naturally aspirated twin rotor design featuring side intake and exhaust ports, the Renesis engine is expected to develop 184kW of power at 8500rpm.

For the next generation rotary engine, post RX-8, the possibility of it moving to a triple rotor design has been denied by MMC managing executive officer in charge of design and product development, Joseph Bakaj.

Instead, it will be a development of the current twin rotor design with further improvements to emissions, fuel economy and reliability.

Mr Bakaj also said the company had no plans at this stage to use the rotary engine in other applications, nor was there a turbo version on the cards.

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