MAZDA Australia managing director Martin Benders is confident work is afoot to bring the legendary RX-7 back to showrooms.
But he stressed nothing has been confirmed yet from the brand’s Japanese headquarters and any return of the rotary-powered RX-7 – arguably Mazda’s most famous model and a car that hasn’t been around since 1999 – would not happen until about 2017.
“I’m hearing more noise [from people in Mazda’s Japanese headquarters] – that’s all I can tell you,” Benders said. “I don’t know if it’s real or not.
“It’s less concrete than rumours,” he cautioned. “It’s just people talking about rotary generally more than you’d expect them to be [at head office].”
Overseas speculation has suggested 2017 would make sense to revive the RX-7, a date that would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original Mazda rotary.
The new RX-7 would get a rotary powerplant designed to meet stricter emissions targets and could be produced in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged guise.
The long-rumoured and seemingly imminent revival of the RX-7 is part of a broader push to introduce more exciting models to the Mazda lineup.
“There is certainly a push internally to get some more serious performance cars out there,” said Benders, pointing to the post-GFC return to profitability.
“Last year they [Mazda] made a record profit … basically they’ve got this thing through to March 2016 that says if they get all those ducks in a row … then all of the rest can happen.
“The stuff they’re going to launch in the next two years is still mainstream, then you’ll see them starting to fill holes after that.”
As with other senior Mazda executives, Benders said the rotary was an important technology for the Japanese brand.
“From a branding point of view it’s reasonably important,” he said.
“My theory is that rotary dictated what Mazda became. Because they developed the rotary engine they had to make cars that could handle … because it’s so small and you can put it low down you can make the cars pretty slick … and you had to make them lightweight because there wasn’t much torque.
“Everything we do today comes off the rotary.”