R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara said: “If we were to mass produce the car, the Cayman is the right kind of assumption [as a rival]. We’d like to make it lighter than a Cayman.”
Mazda RX-7 revisited - driving the original king of spin
Fujiwara would not mention specifics on engine capacity or performance, but the Cayman reference indicates a power output of around 300bhp. Fujiwara confirmed that turbocharging and hyrbidisation are being considered. However, the latter is considered less likely as it is a greater technical challenge.
While Fujiwara wouldn’t mention engine specs, he did confirm that efficiency now matches that of a typical petrol engine without any electrical assistance. He said that breakthroughs in computer simulation and prototype making has allowed Mazda to more accurately study the combustion cycle of a rotary engine and change it accordingly, including even the shape of the engine.
He added: “Based on the things we’ve been studying there is still room for more modifications.”
This research has also allowed Mazda to improve the torque output of the rotary engine, as well as economy and reliability.
As for the transmission, Fujiwara said that a manual gearbox would be his preferred option, but a dual-clutch gearbox might be required should the performance improve further.
On a more philosophical point about Mazda’s role with rotary, he said: “It is an essential part of our DNA and it's just been passed onto future engineers. It is synonymous with the brand.”
Production of the engine now relies on further improvements to the rotary technology, particularly in ensuring it is now robust enough and reliable for mass production, and for Mazda to be on a stable financial footing to have the confidence to relaunch the technology. If achieved, a launch date of 2017 is mooted.
Fujiwara said that: “Mazda always introduces new materials and technology on its sports cars."
A reference to perhaps a more extensive use of aluminium in the production car or even carbonfiibre. The base Cayman weighs in at 1405kg, a target figure the production Mazda will be seeking to beat.
Mazda's history with rotary engines in pictures
Mazda design boss Ikuo Maeda said that the concept 'represents our dream, but we don't want it to be a dream for too long'. He said that it took 10 months to design, and was a 'pure design project' in this form, although 'a lot of elements are adaptable for future products'.
The concept’s design is said to offer 'a sense of lineage and authenticity, encapsulating Mazda’s entire history of sports car design'. Following Mazda’s KODO design language, the RX-Vision’s low body features short overhangs at either end, with a low roofline and low bonnet – something made possible by the compact dimensions of the SkyActiv-R engine.
Inside, the concept features handcrafted components with intricate instrumentation, leather trim and a simplistic instrument panel. The concept has 245/40R20 tyres at the front, and 285/35R20 rubber at the rear.
Maeda said he would love to see the design in production, hinting that it was still up for debate: “I hope we have enough strong voices that can dictate this car. We’re at a very important stage and we wanted to express what could be the next step.