Unfortunately, the resurrected RX-7 rumored for a 2011 debut isn't happening. However, Mazda has realized that it's time to rejuvenate its sports car soul and has begun work on a family of fresh two-seaters. It's too soon to say whether an RX-7 will be included in that mix or when the next rotary will appear, but there's no doubt that the MX-5 Miata will benefit.
While the current MX-5 is not a candidate for Mazdaspeed ministrations (past examples weren't cost effective), don't count out the new Mazda 2. U.S. deliveries of the standard-spec subcompact with a 100-hp, 1.5-liter engine begin in late July. If the mazdaspeed model (a 2008 Tokyo concept is shown) earns the green light, appropriate hardware from both the motorsports department and from foreign sources could be gathered quite expeditiously.
The refreshed and restyled Mazda 5 minivan arrives in early 2011 with the 3's 167-hp, 2.5-liter engine. Further out, a new family of gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines (code-named Sky) will replace the current MZR four-bangers. Mazda will also tap Toyota for its hybrid system starting in 2013.
WHAT: MP4-12C supercar.
WHEN: May/June 2011
SON OF F1: The MP4-12C will be the first exclusively McLaren-branded road car since the F1, perhaps the most storied supercar of all time.
The british racing car company best known for its Formula 1 efforts is on a quest to become a sports car company as well. McLaren's first effort on that front was the legendary F1 (produced from 1993 to 1998); more recently, McLaren collaborated with Daimler to produce the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Next comes the MP4-12C, which, like the first McLaren street car, is a mid-engine sports car that makes extensive use of carbon fiber. But this time, it uses V-8 rather than V-12 power and has a conventional, two-seat cabin rather than the F1's three-seat, central-driving configuration. For us, though, the most important difference is that this McLaren will be sold in the U.S.
The compact, 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 revs to 8500 rpm and spins out 600 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. The 90-degree V-8 features dry-sump lubrication and works exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic to send power to the rear wheels. McLaren is promising 62-to-0-mph braking in less than 100 feet, a quarter-mile time of about 11 seconds, and a top speed in excess of 200 mph.
Aiding all these efforts is the MP4-12C's light weight - at an estimated 3000 pounds, it's a couple hundred pounds lighter than a Ferrari 458 Italia, which is fractionally larger. The MP4-12C is built around a carbon-fiber central chassis tub, with aluminum extrusions front and rear. The control-arm, coil-spring suspension is able to do without antiroll bars because a system called Proactive Chassis Control connects the adaptive dampers hydraulically. There's also an air brake that automatically extends under hard braking.
The company expects to send 250 examples, with a price of roughly $200,000, to the United States in the first year.