Few cars are as defined by their powertrain as much as the Mazda RX-7.
Steadfastly bucking the trend for conventional internal combustion engines, Mazda stuck with its Wankel rotary set-up for its RX-7 sports car. Specifically, a twin rotary engine, with a combined capacity of 1.3-litres, its 237bhp output assisted by a pair of turbos.
The advantages are obvious; you only have to look at the RX-7’s low nose to see that Mazda’s rotary unit is compact, its positioning low and far back under that gloriously sculpted bonnet also helping the RX-7 gain serious praise for its handling.
Praise highlighted on these pages, Autocar’s original test of the RX-7 in July 1992 not short of admiration for the RX-7, comparing it favourably to that contemporary paragon of handling and performance: the Porsche’s 968.
Despite this the Mazda never sold particularly well, not least because its price put it within a few hundred pounds of that Porsche. Its might have offered a specification advantage over the 968, but Mazda’s badge lacked prestige in comparison to that on the Stuttgart machine.
Mazda did undertake a couple of price drops on the RX-7 to try to increase sales - the list price eventually dropping from £34,000 to a touch over £26,000 - but the RX-7 remained a bit-part player in a busy sports car marketplace in the early 1990s.
Its oddball mechanical specification certainly didn’t help its cause. For all Mazda’s perseverance with the rotary engine Wankel’s powerplant has never had the best reputation for reliability. Or thirst. That prodigious drinking habit was outlined in Autocar’s test, the RX-7 managing a less than impressive 15.5mpg overall figure.