My love for Mazda is well known to all of you, but the rotary era came to an end with the demise of the RX-8 from the market. The general public lost interest in coupes, and added to that was the Wankel's perpetual reputation for being complicated, chugging engines. The reality, and I say this with full knowledge of the facts, is that these cars were reliable, as long as they were well maintained. The horror stories about oil consumption were certainly stupid: After all, it's an engine that drinks oil by design, and it doesn't drink that much when you're not rolling on the attack. But it all came together. The crisis came, people lost interest in sports cars and Mazda suffered a major economic crisis after separating from Ford.
But the guys from Hiroshima, you know, "never give up". And after recovering the path of profits and restructuring its entire range to rely exclusively on its own platforms and engines, they wanted to renew their myths.
The first renewed myth was the MX-5, which after all has always had its commercial space. But the one we didn't expect so soon and so "for real" was this RX-Vision Concept.
Look at it, you don't need to be a Mazda geek to recognize in it an aesthetic homage to the RX-7 FD. Although it uses Kodo proportions to shape its bodywork, it avoids replicating shapes and volumes to define itself, and uses the classic Mazda repertoire to create a coupe with curved and organic shapes, with a very long bonnet, a delayed cabin with very curved roof arches and rear light clusters that are a perfect nod to those used on the FD.
The front end, with its polygonal grille and LED headlights, is a breath of fresh air, but 100% Mazda in any case. But the feature we love the most is the concave-convex game applied to the side view, where the front wing plays with two different curvature radii that add muscularity and also serve to glimpse a fine aerodynamic work to extract air from the front wheel arch. The absence of extreme aerodynamic additions or ornamental baroque elements beyond the gill, only serve to remind us how good a design can be without resorting to unnecessary styling lines, if you play with the right curvatures and the right proportions and dimensions.
By the way, don't miss the last legacy detail: the double "bubble" on the roof, openly (and avowedly) copied by Mazda from the Abarth Zagato, and which was present on both the RX-7 FD and the RX-8, serving to stabilize and conscientiously direct the airflow over the car, while a diffuser is responsible for sticking the rear to the ground (remember, these cars have always been rear-wheel drive).
Open the door and you find yet another perfect nod to the RX-7 FD, with a curved and organic dashboard, surrounding the driver and presenting the rev counter as the main protagonist, while the steering wheel and gear knob seem to fall into your hands.
There's no air vent, no infotainment screen, no electric handbrake... What's the point? This is a driving enjoyment machine.
Conceptual, the car is certainly conceptual, but everything is clearly producible with just a few changes. Obviously, the interior will have to make way for some of those deleted amenities, and the exterior will have to play with some millimeter difference, but otherwise, the RX-Concept Vision is a total success as a faithful successor to the RX-7.
Under its front hood is the new SkyActiv-R Wankel engine, of which Mazda has not given a single technical detail, beyond promising it as novel and revolutionary in that it will solve all the problems of rotary engines to meet Euro6 and future anti-pollution standards.
We have it on good authority, and through unofficial channels, that Mazda was working on a new 1.6-liter displacement Wankel engine, with direct gasoline injection (something that is not entirely new, since direct injection in the Wankel was first tested in the sixties), and ignition by a system of laser spark plugs that would allow better control of the flame front for a more effective combustion.
Obviously, from the new RX we can expect what has become a tradition in these coupes of the company: front-central engine completely located behind the front axle, as already happened with the RX-8, with an elaborate double wishbone suspension in front and an independent five-arm rear plus a Torsen locking. The prototype has Brembo brakes with floating discs and rigid calipers, and it will be especially interesting to assess the overall weight of the whole, as it has always been the strong point of the RX. 1,300 kilos? I'd say they could aim for something less, even.
Mazda hasn't given any dates for a production version, but they have given us a confession: This car will be on the market sooner rather than later. They say they're not giving specific deadlines so as not to put too much pressure on the engineering team and let them work with room to meet all the project's goals.
I think we will see it in 2018 in the dealerships, with at least 300 horses sent to the rear wheels and a price tag around 42.000€ for this two-seater.
Personally, I've already fallen in love and obsessed. And there's still a very long way to go before we meet the production version, but I can only applaud Mazda's boldness in creating a car true to its principles. A light, beautiful coupe with its own character and personality and a unique engine. When all the sheep in the fold are playing the same game, you have to be bold and brave to go off on a tangent. You guys are big, you're really big.
A tribute to Mazda and its sporting and technological heritage