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Tony O'Kane | Dec 29, 2009

SPECULATION IS RIFE that Mazda is in the midst of preparing a successor to the much-loved RX-7 of the 1990s and early 2000s, which disappeared from Mazda's line-up in 2002 and was replaced by the RX-8 in 2003.

However, while the last generation RX-7 was powered by a twin-turbocharged 1.3 litre rotary, Mazda is reportedly preparing to take a different tack with the new car.

2002_mazda_rx-7-spiritr_02

A new engine is in the wings (the 1.6 litre direct-injected 16X rotary), but there won't be a turbocharger in sight. Output is expected to be between 150kW and 180kW.

The emphasis will be on light weight and sharp handling, and sources say it will be priced to compete with the Hyundai Genesis and upcoming Toyota FT-86 at the bottom end of the RWD Coupe market.

Mazda's engineers are also said to be working on cutting more weight from the 16X engine, while also reducing fuel consumption and improving reliability - two major bugbears of rotary engines.

mazda_16x_01

The 16X is said to be capable of generating in excess of 260kW, but a detuned variant for the RX-7 should see longevity and fuel economy move closer to the level of conventional piston engines.

Styling is still a mystery, but expect to see Mazda's current design language applied to a smaller, more compact vehicle than the four-seat RX-8.

Although sold as a 2012 model, current speculation says the production model could surface in showrooms as early as 2011.

However, the arrival of the new RX-7 is expected to spell the end for the RX-8, which is nearing the end of its lifespan and due for an all-new replacement around 2011.

[Inside Line]

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