Mazda not planning a hybrid RX-9 sports car, sources say

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 1, 2011

It has been confirmed that Mazda is not planning a hybrid RX-9 sports car, which would be powered by a gasoline-fueled rotary engine mated to an electric-drive system from Toyota. Actually, the rotary engine at Mazda may not even continue. The Mazda RX-8 is nearing the end of production.

For the first four months of the year, this model only sold 291 units in the U.S. According to a company insider, it won’t be feasible to create a special “end-of-the-road” edition with unique paint and badging.

When the RX-8 ends its run, there won’t be any vehicle for Mazda to place its current 1.3-liter rotary engine. Sources say that Mazda is considering the RX-7 as a replacement. This vehicle will be built on the platform from the next-generation Miata, which will arrive in the market almost two years from now.

It’s possible that this platform will be enlarged. To date, the project has yet to be officially approved. It’s uncertain if it’s in the planning stage or if it’s already nearing production.

Many will miss the RX-8, especially the unique rotary engine and its outstanding chassis and steering. But it would be difficult for Mazda to produce two sports cars on distinctive platforms with very low sales volume. Nonetheless, enthusiasts are hoping that someday, an MX-5-based RX-7 will arrive.

Since its introduction in 2003, the Mazda RX-8 has managed to reap over 50 global awards like the 2003 RJC Car of the Year (Japan), Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 2003 (Australia) and 2003 International Engine of the Year. Other awards include 2004 Singapore Car of the Year, the 2004 United States Best Sports Car and UK Car of the Year 2004. The Mazda RX-8 four-door was also on the Ten Best list of Car and Driver magazine for 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Since its launch, around 167,000 four-seater RX-8s have been sold around the world. For this year, Mazda is presenting an iteration of the Mazda RX-8 that features a refreshed exterior and interior design as well as improved performance. Moreover, the new Mazda RX-8 comes available with the new R3 sport package that would please any driving enthusiast. Sitting at the heart of the new Mazda RX-8 is a twin-rotor RENESIS rotary engine that supports the vehicle’s claim of having created a lightweight yet high-powered and perfectly balanced road car.

Tetsu Nakazawa, the Mazda RX-8’s vehicle line manager at Mazda North American Operations, noted that since Cosmo Sport was launched in 1967, every Mazda sports car has had the same basic mission -- to provide a vehicle that is not only thrilling to look and fun-to-drive but is also easy to own. He remarked that the new RX-8 is an embodiment of that mission, as it fully conveys the distinctive Mazda brand DNA. In their quest to further improve the Mazda RX-8, engineers at Mazda decided to focus on innovations in three key areas: styling, performance and packaging.

Nakazawa quipped that enhancements made to these key areas take the car to a whole new level in terms of visual and driving enjoyment. The beautiful design of the new RX-8 reveals a uniquely sculpted exterior, which is further visually enhanced by an array of design enhancements to give the vehicle a new look, without spoiling the basic design theme. Exterior tweaks include a restyled front fascia and front bumpers and high quality front headlamps.

At the rear are rear bumpers and sporty rear headlamps as well as 90mm exhaust pipes. The sides of the new Mazda RX-8 are marked by a new five-spoke wheel design that recalls the rotary engine, with different arrangements for each wheel size. Moreover, the Mazda RX-8 is defined by taut muscular lines and its classic sports car proportions as well as a Zoom-Zoom edge. As it is, the new Mazda RX-8 – with its distinct "freestyle" four-door design – is a real demonstration of how there is no need to sacrifice space or convenience for performance just to create the true sports car.

Interestingly, the rear-hinged rear doors of the new Mazda RX-8 feature an advanced design that allows for a large door opening, which means easy ingress and egress for an adult passenger. In addition, such design allows the parent to better secure their baby or a small child in the rear cabin. More than that, the spacious rear cabin of the new Mazda RX-8 offers enough room to accommodate four full-size adults, and enough trunk space for their luggage.

Topics: mazda, sports car

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