The recent news out of Japan hasn't been good for fans of front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-doors. First came word that Subaru and Toyota were postponing the launch of their boxer-powered RWD coupe, then the S2000 is killed off and finally reports suggest that Nissan has cancelled its Silvia successor. Thankfully, all is not lost. InsideLine is reporting that Mazda is hard at work on another version of the RX-7 and development is underway on the next RX-8, supposedly – and predictably – dubbed the RX-9.
According to IL's (traditionally) unnamed sources, Mazda is working on a 16X twin-rotor Wankel (two rotors, each displacing 800cc), boosting displacement of the current 13B by 300cc and putting out upwards of 270 hp in naturally aspirated guise. Mazda's aim for its next generation of rotary engines is to dramatically reduce emissions and boost fuel economy to the tune of 20%.
Mazda will likely use the same engine to motivate the RX-7, but in addition to offering a traditional manual gearbox, Mazda is developing a dual-clutch transmission with a twist: the DCT will allow drivers to set the exact points where the clutch packs engage for maximum performance on the track.
The RX-7's circuit-friendly cred is enhanced by the report that Mazda engineers are struggling to keep the coupe's curb weight in check. An all-new chassis is being developed that will supposedly eliminate around 220 pounds, bringing the RX-7's weight down to approximately 2,640 pounds.
We're keeping our fingers crossed that both the RX-7 and RX-9 will make an appearance during this year's show season, although the way things are going, we don't expect to see either at this year's Tokyo Motor Show.