6th Sep 2014
RX-7: fact or fiction?
Mazda hasn’t confirmed anything.
Everyone saying “There’ll be a new RX-7 in 2017” is copying someone else who has twisted someone else’s words. Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders said, “All the stuff in the pipeline for the next two years is mainstream, then we can look at filling holes after that.” One of the holes that currently needs filling in Mazda’s line-up is a performance car, and the answer to that that we’d all love to see is the RX-7. So, Cluedo-style, one could deduce that by 2017, Mazda (Colonel Mustard) will build a performance car (the lead pipe) called the RX-7 (in the library.) But it’s still just deduction from very few facts at this stage – flavoured with more than a little bit of hope (and clickbait headline hunting.) The official word from Mazda is that there’s no official word.
It might be based on the MX-5 platform.
Sure, why not do an F-Type and make a coupe version from a convertible platform? It’s not exactly brain science – most car makers are moving towards sharing underpinnings between cars, it simply makes bean-counting sense.
On the other hand, it might not be based on the MX-5 platform. Just because something is possible, doesn’t make it probable.
Mazda is definitely still working on the rotary engine.
The word from Mazda is that “work on the rotary engine is ongoing.” That’s a long way from saying “We will launch a new RX-7 in 2017.” Mazda will need to address fuel efficiency and torque – both things that caused the demise of the RX-8, when it failed to meet emissions standards in Europe (standards which are only getting tighter as the years march on), and failed to wow fanboys with its lacklustre mid-range torque. Mazda is working on also rotary engines for other purposes – agricultural generators, believe it or not, and small range-extender engines for hybrid vehicles – so the fact that Mazda engineers are working on Wankels doesn’t mean the RX-7 is waiting to burst from cover.
Mazda is more likely to spend its warchest on developing cars that will make money.
The new products that will top Mazda’s wish list are the big-volume sellers – things like a CX-3 compact SUV, and a seven-seat version of the CX-5. Meanwhile, they have to launch the all-new MX-5, relaunch the BT-50 with a new face, and produce a replacement for the aging CX-9. An RX-7 would be awesome, but it won’t be a big selling model – that’s another reason the RX-8 died its untimely death – so no matter how many concept sketches there are floating around Mazda HQ, it still has to battle with more profitable models for development cash.
There are cheaper ways to get a performance model.
Mazda3 MPS, anyone? Making a turbo hot hatch from an existing model is a far quicker and more cost effective way to spice up your range, compared with engineering a whole new car, no matter whether you can share a platform with another model. Remember, Mazda got into a sharing arrangement with Fiat to spread the cost of the new MX-5 program – they’re making good profits at the moment, but they’re not being rash about spending it on just anything.
So… do we think Mazda is making a new RX-7?
Yes. Partly because the performance car niche is still a money-maker, even if it’s not the really big cash-cow like the SUV division. And partly because Mazda has a proud tradition of rotary engines, and the fact that they don’t have one in the line-up irks influential Mazda veterans like design boss Ikuo Maeda.
And partly because, like everyone else, we can’t help getting excited about the prospect of a new Wankel-powered troublemaker. So Mazda, if you’re on the fence: do it. Please.
6th Sep 2014