Published on October 19th, 2022 | by Sounder Rajen0
What If We Actually Got The Mazda RX-01
The Mazda RX-01 is the rotary that never was
At the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, Mazda unveiled the RX-01 Concept car mainly as a result of the diminishing high end sports car market. A back-to-basics, lightweight, simple and fun-to-drive car with a rotary engine, this car had huge potential. Sadly it never made it into production, but why not? And what if it was produced?
Right around the time that the FD RX-7 was coming to an end, Mazda began experimenting with this fun size 2+2 rotary-powered sports coupe. I find it funny that despite the name, the car featured dimensions closer to the NA MX-5 rather than the RX-7. It was also quite a looker even now, the design seems timeless.
Unsurprisingly, this little car did not weigh all that much, at a meagre 1,100kg (2,425lbs for the imperial system enthusiasts), it was far lighter than anyone would have expected from an RX car. It was also no surprise though, that the Mazda RX-01 boasted performance numbers similar to sports cars.
Powered by a front-midship positioned, naturally aspirated 1.3L Wankel rotary engine making 220hp which gave the car an acclaimed 0 to 100 (0 to 60) time of just 5.7 seconds. That may not sound like much now but back in the day, those were elite numbers. Hell, most modern cars can’t even achieve that.
All of this had me wondering why Mazda did not see this through to the finish line and just produce the RX-01. After all, it had all the right ingredients to be a successful budget friendly sports car. Plus any JDM car enthusiast would probably go giddy for that rotary engine and it just seems like a waste to not capitalize on that.
The design of the Mazda RX-01 was promising, no doubt about that, but the reason behind Mazda not producing the car was believed by many to be due to the American car company, Ford, buying a bigger, controlling stake in Mazda and deciding the future of the company for them.
Do note, that this is purely speculation and is just the general consensus but is by no means proven to be factual, so do take that with a pinch of salt. Regardless of the reason why the Mazda RX-01 never made it to production, I will always see this as a waste of a perfectly good product.
Personally, I think that if this car ever did make it to production, it would have become a classic by now. If the MX-5 is anything to go off of, then this car would probably have been just as successful, if not more and I feel it is a shame that it never came to be.