Mazda's RX-7 coupe has been the subject of 'on-again off-again' reports since production of the third-generation model ended in 2002.
Then, when the death knell rang for the RX-8 in 2012, the rumour mill kicked into overdrive: would we see another rotary-powered rear-wheel-drive offering from Mazda?
Speaking with TMR in 2012, Mazda sports chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto hinted at a 2017 return of the RX-7, but new reports this week suggest a group within the carmaker is urging for yet more rear-wheel-drive models.
For now, the MX-5 stands alone as Mazda's only rear-wheel-drive offering, but according to American outlet Edmunds, engineers have begun to lobby for a return to the days of old.
No official comment has been offered, although the report suggests that insiders at Mazda have confirmed a desire for the carmaker to set itself apart from rivals by producing models that are more satisfying to enthusiasts.
In the current Mazda range, only the MX-5 and the outgoing Mazda3 MPS - a front-wheel-drive turbocharged hot hatch - can be considered true sports offerings.
But, with Mazda now collaborating with Alfa Romeo on the development of a next-generation rear-wheel-drive platform - destined for the MX-5 and a new Alfa Spider - we could see more models come out of the partnership.
That idea was given credence late in 2012, when Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi told press that the two companies are exploring opportunities for further collaboration.
"The engineers at both companies are meeting with each other, and we can have a mutual better understanding of each company, which can then open up new possibilities", Yamanouchi said.
“Everything is possible, we’ve just started. We’re open to any solutions that lessen capital (expenditure)”, Marchionne said at the time."
The engineers will be facing an uphill battle, however. Enthusiasm in the Research & Development department is never short of supply, but with development of new platforms costing millions of dollars, it will be the bean counters that get the final say.
But, with Alfa Romeo also believed to be exploring the potential for more rear-wheel-drive offerings (beyond the new Spider and 4C coupe), there is hope yet for Mazda's eager engineers.
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