Mazda to go green power
A hydrogen powered RX-9 is on the horizon, writes PETER LYON in Japan
ARADICAL makeover of the Mazda RX-7 will bring something new to showrooms in 2012. It will be called the RX-9 and it will run on hydrogen.
There have been rumours about the future of the RX-7 almost from the day Mazda revealed the new four-door RX-8 in 2001.
The family friendly RX-8 has never hit the same sweet spot as the earlier two-door RX-7, gargling more petrol and burning more oil than just about any production car around.
Now Mazda insiders say the RX8 will cease production by the end of 2009, with its replacement to be morphed with a born-again RX-7, most likely with an RX-9 badge.
The new-age RX-7 will not only take on a radical new design, but will also employ a unique makeover of Mazda’s signature rotary engine.
The company has realised the only way to keep the rotary alive is to clean up its image and make it more earth-conscious. That means improving its fuel economy, reducing its oil consumption and emissions, while maintaining the superb handling and ride.
The answer is a dual-fuel update, so the RX-9 will be powered by a new rotary hydrogen hybrid unit that can run on either hydrogen or petrol.
Mazda has been experimenting with hydrogen-fuelled rotary motors for two years in an RX-8 and, more recently, in the Premacy minivan.
The RX-9 is expected to be rearwheel drive, with manual or automatic transmissions, and should generate up to 20 per cent better economy and substantially improved emissions than current test mules.
But, given that power falls by about 20 per cent when switched to hydrogen mode, Mazda engineers envisage drivers using green hydrogen power for city driving and then flicking to petrol mode when more performance is required.
Superseded: Mazda’s RX-8 GT will cease production by the end of 2009 in favour of the new RX-9.