Mazda RX-7 Returning In 2017: Yamamoto

Tony O'Kane | Oct 31, 2012

Mazda will bring back the much-loved RX-7 in 2017, with less weight, less complexity and a greater emphasis on driver involvement.

Speaking to TMR at the local launch of the facelifted MX-5, Mazda Motor Corporation's sports car chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto said that the return of the RX-7 will mark 50 years since the introduction of Mazda's first rotary-engined car, the Cosmo Sport, in 1967.

By the time the next-generation model arrives, it will have been 15 years since the RX-7 departed Mazda showrooms.

Production of the FD3S RX-7 ended in 2002, with that model built purely for the Japanese domestic market. Local RX-7 imports ceased in 1998.

Yamamoto was the powertrain head for the FD3S, and has a lot of fond memories of that car. He was also involved in the RX-7's win at Bathurst in 1992 - the last time he'd set foot in Australia.

As you would expect, bringing back the RX-7 has been high on his agenda.

However Yamamoto stressed that the new model wouldn't quite follow the lead of the FD RX-7. Asked if the next-generation RX-7 will feature forced induction, Yamamoto replied "maybe not".

"At this time it has not been determined. Maybe later in life it will be turbo, but to start with maybe not," he said to TMR.

Instead, Yamamoto favours a naturally-aspirated development of the new 16X rotary engine, which was unveiled in 2007 but has yet to find its way into a production car.

Displacing 1.6 litres (the previous-generation rotary, the 13B/Renesis, only displaced 1.3 litres), Yamamoto says the 16X is capable of up to 300 metric horsepower (220kW) in a naturally-aspirated configuration.

Yamamoto added that, with the use of a special catalyst, the engine will have no problem meeting the ultra-restrictive Euro VI emissions legislation that will be in place by 2017.

As the man who designed the Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B's R26B rotary engine, which developed 700hp from just 2.6 litres, Yamamoto should know a thing or two about extracting the most from a rotary.

Key among Yamamoto's powertrain requirements was throttle responsiveness and linearity of power delivery.

He told TMR that the stepped power delivery of the FD RX-7's sequential twin-turbochargers was not ideal for a sports car and that a larger single turbocharger would result in too much throttle lag. Therefore, a naturally-aspirated rotary is the best solution.

But while 220kW might sound low compared to many other modern sports cars, Yamamoto says that the new RX-7 will be light enough to make the most of its power.

While he was coy about the RX-7's target weight, he said it "would definitely be lighter" than the 1310kg FD RX-7, and "probably around the weight of the Toyota 86" (1250kg).

Expected to be built atop a variation of the next-generation MX-5's platform, the new RX-7 will employ a range of weight-saving technologies to keep its mass down.

Yamamoto said that aluminium body panels will be used extensively, although more exotic materials like carbon fibre won't be due to their greater cost and more energy-intensive manufacturing processes.

mazda rx 7 11

It won't, however, be anywhere near as light as its MX-5 brother, which is expected to weigh around 1000kg when it debuts in 2014.

The RX-7 will also be noticeably larger than the MX-5, with a stretched wheelbase to accomodate a pair of small rear seats for the Japanese market.

As with the previous generation, the new RX-7 will be a two-seater in Western markets.

Yamamoto also told TMR that hybrid or EV powertrains were not suitable for a car like the RX-7.

He said that although KERS-like hybrid systems and all-electric powertrains were capable of delivering big torque, their smoothness and near-silent characteristics didn't deliver much in the way of driver enjoyment.

"For a pure sports car, it must be internal combustion," he said.

Yamamoto says that the RX-7 will be a premium product, and will likely wear a pricetag that's higher than cars like the 370Z.

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Filed under: Featured, Mazda, rx-7, mazda rx-7, rx7, mazda rx7, News, sport, performance, enthusiast, top news october 2012

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  • amlohac says,
    2 years ago
    12 likes
    Can I place my order now?
    • Markstanley says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      Where can I start paying one off
  • Lindsay says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    HELLO!
  • Cracks says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    The icon reborn.
    After so much speculation in recent years, fingers crossed it actually happens this time.
  • Mo Kargas says,
    2 years ago
    3 likes
    Can't wait!

    Something tells me it will be quite expensive dry
    • jae says,
      2 years ago
      6 likes
      the article says "Yamamoto says that the RX-7 will be a premium product, and will likely wear a pricetag that's higher than cars like the 370Z."
      bleh
  • Jmac says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    There is a god! Can I put a deposit on one now?
  • Jules says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    Hopefully it is 16x powered & modeled with looks from the Furai
  • Ward Paterson says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    In 2017 fuel will be $5-$10 a ltr. Hows that going to go down with a V8 equivalent thurst?

    In any case, it'll probably never come here. laugh
    • Otakusama says,
      2 years ago
      5 likes
      The 16x has far superior fuel mileage to the 13b as it has injector spray nozzles in the engine to maximize the benefit of even atomization. So there.
      • Lindsay says,
        2 years ago
        2 likes
        Whether it's better than historical designs of the same type, the Wankel rotary still has inherently inferior thermodynamic efficiency compared to piston engines on account of the shape of its combustion chamber. Essentially it has a higher ratio of surface area to volume than that of a cylindrical piston, so the combustion products lose heat more quickly. As a result, more heat goes out the radiator and less gets used to generate mechanical power.

        I love the Wankel rotary but the laws of nature must be obeyed. Frankly I'm surprised there isn't any forced induction at all in the interest of fuel economy.
        • Drew says,
          1 year ago
          2 likes
          The surface area to volume ratio of a 1.3L rotary is marginally worse than a typical 1.3L piston engine. It certainly can not be responsible for the apparent disparity between the ***el and other engines. The MPG issue pretty much boils down to output, try and squeeze 150+ HP from a 1.3L Geo metro and you will certainly see the 40+ mpg drop to something familiar to an FC driver. When someone drops a 230 HP 160 LB-FT 1.3L piston engine in a 3200pound sports car and returns much better mpg I will eat my words.
          • Rotary_fiend says,
            1 year ago
            Excellent point drew. My mates 2.0lt sulcus is as thirsty as my 13B.. And better yet.. If u want fuel economy go buy a Hybrid!! If u want a SPORTS car you don't give a rats about Fuel economy..!
  • Off-roader says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    As much as i want Mazda to bring back the RX7, i have my doubts as to whether it will happen. They have promised things in the past and failed to deliver.

    They do not have the money to develop the rotary engine to the levels required for it to enter modern-day production standards, and even if the 'special catalyst' idea works, you can bet it will still drink petrol like there's no tomorrow!!!

    I still hope they build a new RX7, but maybe with a piston engine that is more efficient and easier to work on.
    • Dimitri says,
      2 years ago
      13 likes
      Ase me malaka why would you want Mazda to bring back a rx7 with a piston engine defets the whole point goose of a rotary. Maybe rotors aren't for you bro stick to a mx5 bro
      • Retro Racer says,
        2 years ago
        5 likes
        Yes... Last time I looked RX stood for Rotary eXperimental !
      • Pavlos says,
        1 year ago
        I agree you cant have an Rx-7 without it being a rotory that would defeat the purpose and as far as motor maintenance goes they are simple to maintain with very good reliability getting 250k miles+ out of the motor with little more then a soft seal replacement if you are having motor problems that means the owner did not know how to change oil and coolant as is regular requirement stick to your pistons if you cant figure it out oil changes should be done at 3,000 miles not 5,000 not 4 or 3.5 leave it to the pro's if you cant handle reg car maint.
    • Johnnychon says,
      2 years ago
      3 likes
      An rx7 without a rotary is just a big miata. I hope they don't use tge rx7 name though. Rx9?
    • Anon says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      While I do agree with Mazda needing to work on fuel consumption, I dont agree with your comment about rotary being hard to work on.

      You realize a rotary has far less moving parts than a Piston engine, correct? Rebuild a rotary, rebuild a piston, and then tell me about which was easier.

      That being said, if you want piston you should get the Mx-5. Its similar to the 7 but with your current engine preference.
    • Rotary7 says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      stick to a corvette or something if you want a piston.
    • Epic13b says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      Err..With a Piston Engine?? Then it wouldn't be called an RX7. It wouldn't even come close. If you want something easy to work on get a Honda or a Toyota. bleh You can have all your pistons there.
  • eric says,
    2 years ago
    3 likes
    Piston engine in an rx? You must not know your car history, or just don't care.
  • Weltall says,
    2 years ago
    5 likes
    Shut up and take my money!
  • chad erueti says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    why not retro build an older model like the rx4? Like the yanks done with the mustang, camaro, challager etc. Dont see the point bring the 7 back when its not gana be the same, and 10 years after it was caesed from the production line, finshing at the rx8 then goin back 2 the 7 seems weird and pointless to me. A retro build is what i recken, the 70s is where all the best body shapes are, instead of the mazda rx4 name maybe mazda luce?
  • Chris says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    I will sell my first, second and third born for the new Rx-7 this is a must have...
    • Drew says,
      1 year ago
      Did you just claim that going back 1 digit was stupid and instead suggest going back 4 digits? You realize that the 7 lasted for 3 generations, that the RX4 was built along side the RX3 and iirc the RX2. That the names had little to do with the production dates but the placement in the product line. If they brought the rx4 back in the same slot it occupied in the 70s it would be a large personal luxury sedan not a sports car. The rx 2 and 3 would be compact and mid sized sedans rather than sports cars in fact. Only the 7 was built as a sports car, so a new rotary sports car from mazda would logically be badged the rx7. Unless it was conceptually different enough to warrant a new name like the rx8 was. The names were like the 121 323 626 and 929 naming schemes that followed. You wouldn't argue that a new mid sized sedan should be called the 121 because every 121 has been a sub compact. You wouldn't name a new rx7 rx4 because the rx4 badge denotes a large luxury sedan that would compete with Buicks not Porsches.
  • Enrique says,
    2 years ago
    RX7 = R rotor. If it have a piston mine it all be a MX-7 so it will be a complete deferent car. So no, it can not be a piston car.
  • 93 RX7 says,
    2 years ago
    3 likes
    Im happy this is in their thought process,smile However I think they are missing key factors that make the RX-7 such an icon in the first place. Somethings cant be done twice. Unless there willing to loose money, produce a timeless body way ahead of its time, with a state of the art system behind it, one that hasn't been seen before, and then put it on the shelf with a price tag most everyone finds reasonable. Theres no way any company would do that twice in a twenty year span. Look at the RX-8. No where near the RX-7.

    So in order to achieve the iconic status of the RX-7 we all know and love the 2017 RX will have to be just as fast as a corvette but have the price tag of a base mustang, have the best handling in its class, all while looking like a 2020 ferrari. Not happening. bleh
  • pedro aguirre says,
    2 years ago
    Mazda should take all they have learned from racing like the telescoping intake,3rd plug for each rotor for fuel efficiencies,ect. We need a new Rx7 and definitely ROTARY!!!! Oh and I would like to know wheir to sign for a preorder...
  • thewird says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    It needs a turbo, even if its a small one. Especially if its going to cost more then a 370z. Variable vane geometry turbo that can take the rotary heat?
    • Jim says,
      2 years ago
      Keep in mind this is a rotary - I trust mazda to deliver an engine with naturally aspirated balls
  • Rx_7_driver says,
    2 years ago
    YES YES FUCKING YES!!!!! biggrin
  • Keith G says,
    2 years ago
    Why not RX-9? Why jump back in numbers? I don't understand...
    • Balthazaaaaaaaargh says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      The numbers have never worked that way. The RX-8 wasn't intended to be seen as a true successor to the RX-7, and the MX-6 was certainly no successor to the MX-5 - which, incidentally, has always kept the 5, so there's no reason for the new RX-7 to change its name.
    • Phil says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      There was already an RX-9 created back in the late 70's early 80's
      • Mike says,
        2 years ago
        I'm pretty sure there was never an RX-9... Well, not one you could actually buy.
  • Gary Cohen says,
    2 years ago
    This is good to hear but its a long time off I would have thought that there would have been somthing in between as the RX8 and whats been announced here.
  • sa22c says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    マジかよ! やっとだね、うれしい。
  • Kenji Nakamura says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    People, start your saving NOW!
  • Fred Pochinko says,
    2 years ago
    The New 7 would be great if.. The Engine was swithed to a full Roller bearing E-Shaft then used Plasma sprayed Cermet on the rotor housings,and switched to Cermet coated Aluminum Alloy (Irons) then coated the Rotors with a heat resistant coating like Zirconium.. as well then used Direct Injection to increase its fuel MPG..oops .it sounds a lot like the Engine we are working on...
    • Vezm says,
      2 years ago
      Sounds neat but I'm sure they want to keep the price under that of the space ship you got those materials off. Aluminum plates should be pretty easy to justify considering the weight loss. Remember Mazda know how to make fast rotaries when the budget is through the roof, ala 787B. God knows I'd love all that under my 7s bonnet though.
  • Nrx says,
    2 years ago
    I will buy one
  • Cheyne says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Retro build an RX3!! I think that shape was the sexiest.
  • jrowls says,
    2 years ago
    Sounds awesome!

    I'd really like to see a new MX6 though... shred the European sportscars with a cheap basic sleek Japanese monster... I always thought the MX6 had so much untapped potential... sad
  • Doug Neilson says,
    2 years ago
    I own a rx7 Ser 6 This is my 6th rx7 i
    have owned.I love my car and i have just had it resprayed fitted a front intercooler with a body kit and also a carbon fibre dash etc.I will be buying a new rx7 in 2017 do not like the rx8.I live in Cairns Nth Qld Australia Bring on the RX7 ASAP Thank You Doug Send me any imformation you can on the new rx7
  • Adam says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    I own a 1985 12A, a 1990 Turbo ll, and a 2005 RX-8. I love them all ,but they are very different cars. I am not rich by any means, and I bought them one at a time used. I paid $500 bucks for the first gen. and stuck a used motor in it, $6,000 for the Turbo ll back when I was seventeen, and I'm still making payments on the used 05 RX-8. The new RX-7 needs to be faster than all of the cars in the same class as the 370Z's to be competitive and have a slightly lower price. Most people that buy a rotary are enthisiasts who are very proud of their car and don't want to be out ran by cars in the same price range. They still need their great cornering ability and the original ''driver's car'' appeal. I am completely dedicated to the rotary, and I still think that it has more potential than a conventional piston engine. So please Mazda, make us proud and give us another race winner that we can afford. Also, a big thanks for all of the previous rotaries and the dedication to your racing program.
  • moo says,
    2 years ago
    True JDM will revealed in 2017!!!!!
    I hope Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi do something about it biggrinsmilelaugh
  • skc says,
    2 years ago
    I have supercharged RX8 with 200kw at the wheels. While this kind of power is great I feel to be a great car we need around 230 to 250 kw at the wheels.

    This means Mazda needs to produce a 300kw at the fly wheel car to be truly successful. To do this they will need to add a turbo to the engine.
  • Walski says,
    11 months ago
    Think larger face plates....larger port potential. Then a turbo too match... Hmm, GTK 850 anyone?
  • Cliff says,
    7 months ago
    I have imported Mazda RX7 FD 1998 for customer. I drove it for couples of time during Compliance and registration work. I don't feel comfortable inside and driving. Also imported Toyota Soar 2.5 GT-T Manual and Supra Manual. Driving Toyota is much better and comfortable than Mazda RX7.
    Toyota is very smooth and quiet even thought the Soar had power upgraded to around 320 KW (not at wheels)with HKS Twin Clutch, 5 Speed transmission and HKS Turbine. I compared two cars base on price, power and comfortable. RX7 expensive than modified Toyota Soar but Toyota soar has all sport car loving driver. Also repair cost and reliability, Modified Soar beat RX7.
    If I have to buy another sport car for myself and then I'll choose next generation Toyota Supra over Mazda RX7.
    • Craig says,
      5 months ago
      dude what are u talking about, rx7 is born as a race car ... not for comfort ... take a corner in high speed with the 7 and then try do it with supra tank... rx7 is not for every one ... and for driving it fast you need to know what you are doing
  • steve g says,
    2 months ago
    When people wanted an rx7 they wanted an rx7 not another boring rx8 type let down, give us the firebreathing 7 back!!
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