More than a decade has passed since Mazda offered a high-performance sports car, the turbocharged RX-7 rotary, but there are now very positive noises from within the company that it plans to deploy not just a reborn RX-7 in 2017, but potentially another game-changing sports car to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2020.
With record profits of just over $1.41 billion in the last Japanese financial year (ending March 31, 2014), the Japanese car-maker is once again investing serious capital into the research and development of high-end 'halo' sports cars.
As we've previously reported, Mazda has registered both the RX-7 and RX-9 nameplates with the Japanese trademark office, and it is expected a new RX-7 will be launched in 2017 to coincide with the Mazda Cosmo rotary-engined sports car's 50th anniversary.
Although Yasuhiro Aoyama, Mazda's General Manager of Global Sales and Marketing, refused to confirm the RX-7 or RX-9, he conceded to motoring.com.au that "this is a very fantastic idea, 2017, [for] a new rotary."
"Fascinating," he remarked with a grin.
"We celebrate the anniversary of rotary in 2017; 50 years. Then 2020 is the Olympics in Tokyo and the 100th anniversary of Mazda," he added.
Although the he wouldn't be drawn on whether we'll see a proper supercar in 2020, Mazda's global marketing and sales boss said "We will defy convention" and noted that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would shine the spotlight on all things Japanese, while giving the economy much-needed stimulus.
Rivals such as Nissan already have the GT-R NISMO supercar, while the next generation of Japanese supercars will incorporate hybrid technology to meet increasingly strict emissions regulations. Toyota is planning a new sports car for 2017 in conjunction with BMW, while Honda will unleash the fiery NSX hybrid supercar in 2015.
However, Aoyama-san remarked that Mazda doesn't necessarily need a hybrid performance car to remain relevant, noting that the Jinba Ittai ethos – the connection between car and driver – will be the driving force behind any future sports cars.
"We have our own definition of sports and our own definition of how to get Jinba Ittai, the oneness between car and driver – and we do not have to necessarily compete with segments or competitors," he said.
"We won't follow them just for the sake of it.
"We are indifferent to the successes that our rivals are making; we need to make our own success and forge our own way forward."
Clearly Mazda has grand plans for its two big celebrations in 2017 and 2020, and Aoyama said the new MX-5's scalable rear-drive platform could be used for new sports cars, noting the roadster's "chassis may imply future directions [of new cars]".
Above all else they will have to be lightweight, he says, which will also serve to keep CO2 emissions low.
"Lightweight is one of the core elements for our sports cars to have high performance, so all of the vehicles for the next generation will be like this," he stated.
Images: Holiday Auto Magazine