As the splendid automobile producer to persist with rotary engines, Mazda has former this fantastically unconventional vitality offer for all system of diversified autos. Luxury coupes, dinky take-up autos, Le Mans-winning prototype racers – you title it, Mazda has lobbed a Wankel in it. And at the moment, a dinky single-rotor engine will seemingly be former as a range-extender within the MX-30 EV.
Amongst all that, despite the truth that, there’s one brapping so-and-so that stays essentially the most-loved amongst followers: the RX-7. Three generations of Mazda’s legendary rotary sports automobile were constructed, spanning a near-25-year manufacturing bustle with effectively over 800,000 in-constructed that time.
Despite this, getting abet of 1 within the UK, in particular an earlier automobile, is easier acknowledged than done. Handily, despite the truth that, Mazda UK has all three generations on its heritage fleet, each of which became once wheeled out to sample at a press event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 787B’s shock victory on the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three decades on, it stays the splendid automobile no longer powered by a piston engine to purchase the outright engage at La Sarthe, so what greater system to stamp the event than driving its avenue-going counterparts?
Even despite the truth that it system ready around quite moderately within the pouring rain (unfortunately the UK’s brief early summer time heatwave disappeared a few days ago), I’m obvious to drive all three in list. And so, we originate with a 1984 ‘FB’ first-skills RX-7 that spent much of its lifestyles in storage till Mazda bought it in 2017. As such, it hasn’t even hit 100 miles but – there’s a dinky tinge of guilt as I pull away and head out to add to this piffling figure, but autos are made to be pushed. So, drive it I will.
The unassisted guidance makes navigating the tightly packed, Mazda heritage-themed automobile park a workout. After we’re on prime of issues, there’s a noticeable ineffective whine within the middle and a rack that inevitably feels slightly tiring in contrast with a most modern sports automobile. It’s just appropriate a shrimp too inclined to indubitably feel in particular impressive dynamically, with mushy damping giving a roly-poly effect of perspective to cornering.
The five-journey manual transmission, despite the truth that, feels fabulous. It’s no marvel Mazda looks to be ahead of quite much every person else when it involves satisfying quick-throw equipment shifts – the Jap company has had a glorious deal of educate going help decades, it looks. Bent as much as this cog field is carburetted 1,146cc 12A twin-rotor engine. Some North American market FBs obtained a 13B, while in Japan there became once a turbocharged 12A, but since this one has neither, the output is a modest 113bhp.
Weighing a shrimp over a tonne, the principal RX-7 has weight on its aspect, but even so, it doesn’t indubitably feel all that mercurial. 0-62mph takes around 9 seconds, and the tip journey is 125mpg. The mushy engine lets out a queer, nearly industrial more or much less noise that’s largely drowned out by the noisy gearbox. Per chance that’s why Mazda felt the must add a loud buzzer that goes bananas as you reach the 7000rpm redline. Unfortunately, these are fresh in all generations.
It’s no longer a thriller to drive, but this RX-7 is collected a resplendent factor to biff around in. The material interior is an immaculate time tablet of 80s excellence, with piddly A-pillars giving an fabulous peep of the enviornment out of doors. The splendid peep of all, for positive, is to be loved while you spark off the pop-up headlights.
Motivate on the Jota, Mazda’s motorsport partners and our dwelling for the day, it’s time to swap into the FC. It takes a shrimp while to acclimatise to the bonkers interior, which eschews outdated guidance wheel stalks for an expansion of buttons, knobs and other routine appendages that sprout from the instrument cluster.
The guidance is vitality-assisted this time, so leaving the capability isn’t so arduous for my outdated, pipe-cleaner arms. There’s no ineffective whine either, and it’s noticeably quicker. The guidance isn’t the splendid factor that’s more energizing – below the bonnet, this 1991 ‘Turbo II’ has a twin-scroll turbocharged 13B making around 200bhp.
Yep, no longer some distance off double the output of the FB’s 12A, bigger than adequate to construct up for the weight acquire between generations. 0-62mph comes up in around seven seconds, and positive adequate, the FC feels punchy. As soon as, that is, the turbo comes on music after its realistic helping of stride.
Goodbye because it’s spooled up and also you’re beyond 4000rpm, this factor indubitably flies. It also sounds considerably greater than the FB, while retaining that silky mushy, nearly completely vibration-free shipping. Even though collected quite mushy by contemporary requirements it rolls no longer as much as the earlier-gen RX-7, and even in these soggy instances with that boosty shipping, traction is surprisingly proper. The front discontinue is decent, too, despite the truth that I’ve absolute confidence it’d indubitably feel greater collected if I wasn’t within the much less rigid convertible model.
It’s no longer all proper information, alternatively. The shift from the five-journey gearbox, while collected very proper, isn’t as sweet because the FB’s. The pedal spacing makes heel and toe downshifts quite tricky, too. Nonetheless these are quite minor quibbles, and with the energy of the full lot else here – including the persevered use of pop-ups – they’re all completely forgivable.
In switching to the FD we’re most effective transferring forward a year, but since we’ve also shifted to a contemporary skills and an completely contemporary platform (the FC became once an developed FB below), the outlet feels colossal in contrast. Within the help of the wheel, I’m equipped with an oh-so 90s dashboard featuring a chunky console retaining aside the front seats and a central stack neatly angled in opposition to my aspect of the cabin.
In front, we once more like a 13B, but this time it’s power-fed by an immensely complicated sequential twin-turbo gadget. One turbocharger is former at low revs, with the second coming into play after about 4000rpm because the principal is phased out. The final result is a noticeably much less laggy character than the FC.
Procure it over 5000rpm, and all hell looks to break away because the RX-7 surges to its 6500rpm peak vitality point. Being an earlier automobile it develops 237bhp (this figure grew to 276bhp), and as a result of inflamed shipping of the 13B plus a slightly modest weight figure below 1300kg, the FD feels effectively mercurial.
Even while you happen to’d just appropriate obtained out of a most modern sports automobile, I speak you’d collected gain this factor impressive in a straight line. You is seemingly left searching for out more noise, despite the truth that. The soundtrack is the nicest of the three, but it absolutely’s collected muted, and your complete colossal-bore use on this otherwise bog-normal example looks to attain is add an nerve-racking drone over the tip.
The slick quick-throw gearbox is the like minded of the lot, paying homage to an NA/NB MX-5’s. And after experiencing the janky pedal spacing within the FC, the FD delights by putting them ideally below my tatty and fittingly 90s-having a survey Vehicles howdy-tops.
The guidance’s an even bigger weight than the overly-light, over-assisted setup within the FC, despite the truth that it’s collected no longer massively mercurial. It’s by some distance the firmest of the three here – we’re much nearer to contemporary levels of whisk stiffness here, but it absolutely’s no longer indecent adequate to construct the FD indubitably feel unlucky or nervous. It tracks the avenue brilliantly, genuinely.
When I obtained help within the different two, I became once quite chuffed giving the keys help. As the tucked-away entrance of Jota looms into peep this time, despite the truth that, I’m half tempted to ‘by accident’ miss the turning and bomb down the avenue for moderately longer. It’s the splendid indubitably one of the most three to indubitably gain below my pores and skin, arriving on this world at some stage in something of an car sweet whine. The FD is contemporary adequate to indubitably feel fleet and effectively sorted even in normal orderly, but inclined adequate to been chock fats of the more or much less character most contemporary sports autos can most effective dream of.
Does any of this construct me are looking to engage one? I’d must yell no. These are autos that must be pampered. And while folk that don’t know what they’re talking about fancy to magnify the general apex seal factor, you need to most effective saunter for indubitably such a while you happen to’ve accredited that the occasional costly rebuild is section and parcel of long-term ownership.
Nonetheless there’s nothing else quite fancy an FD RX-7, and its kinda/sorta substitute, the RX-8, doesn’t quite hold the equivalent magic. For these full of life to position within the money and effort to care for an RX-7 going, the rewards are magnificent.