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A few years ago I had a mate who had one of these so I had extensive passenger and some driver experience of this machine.
He had a beautiful UK spec RX-7 which he crashed in the first week of ownership - driving round a tight bend he lost control and it oversteered through a fence and down a ditch. After 8 months of extensive repairs he finally got it back in showroom condition :)
First off this car is a fine looking vehicle, one of the better Japanese sports cars. The cockpit is like fighter jet with everything pointing at the driver and with little movement required say for changing gear. Getting in this car is not recommended for people of limited movement, it's low and the seating position is more like a sleeping position as your legs just stick straight out in front lol
Needless to say, with that long engine bay being filled with 2 engines and 2 turbos it can get a bit warm down in the footwell.
Now, when I drove this car the first thing I noticed was the incredible rate it piled on speed. With the foot down, 100mph came faster than you can say "how fast is this to 100?...oh". It'll go all they way round to about 150mph and I can tell you at these speeds it's one comfortable car and seems planted however it will punish you if you wimp out. Sometimes it's better to keep the foot down on the accelerator than the brake, which I should mention are amazing...I'm sure the RX-7 held a record for shortest distance to stop for a production car due to the massive brakes and 4-pot (?) calipers on there.
At low speeds it's also very civilised, it goes exactly where you point it, when you point... however with sports suspension you may get a bit of a bumpy ride on our fine British roads.
Because of the rotary engine MPG is horrendous, rarely out of single figures. Every 50-60k the tips will wear out and need replaced which I believe is an engine rebuild, it can also drink oil. Parts can be very expensive too as they may need to be sourced from Japan. But like every car if you keep on top of servicing your car will be happier.
One downside of the rotary engine is it's lack of torque however this is combated by high revving, which means to get the most from the car it really needs a bit of lead foot. Having moved to the darkside of diesel recently and driving other similarly high revving vehicles (Civic Type R) I'd miss the instant kick of torque.
I use a Mazda RX7 as an everyday car, commuting to work and for play. ;)
I bought it from the Southampton car import dock yards and here is my honest review.
Note: Remember I am only talking about the 1992-2001 "FD3S" RX7 as in the picture above!
The designer of this RX7 was not happy with the standard of sports cars around at the time. He proposed to Mazda that he wanted to create a REAL sports car designed for just that. The rotary engine was used to keep the bonnet as low as possible as well as for pure power. The layout of the car is midship - meaning the engine sits in between the front and rear wheels resulting in improved handling and further enabling the designers to tweak the chassis so that all 4 wheels can be pushed to their full potential around corners without sliding. Obviously this is a rear wheel drive car and is also a good example of a drift car. In fact this car is very easy to drift and also easy to correct while mid-drift. As quoted by 'Tsuchiya' the Drift King of Japan (who did the stunts for the film Fast & The Furious Tokyo Drift) "High standard, also very easy to control, most outstanding and the racers will enjoy the RX7 most."
What Mazda ended up with is the most lightweight car out of its competitors at the time which made it the best handling high power sports car for 1992-2001.
Forget the newer RX8 - it is a weak attempt at recapturing the target market from the RX7 pedigree where the RX8 fails badly.
Often described as the sexiest car from Japan - RX7s between 92-01 are ALL twin turbo 1300cc engines.
280bhp with a very quick 0-60 of 5 seconds (for my standard Type-R2 but others are pretty much the same).
You can only get single turbo if it has been modified. Brand new these cars costed about £35,000 and nowadays you can pick up a decent one for around £7,000 however there are a few things to look out for...
Rotary engines are known for "blowing up" (needing an engine rebuild) every 60,000 miles. This is not totally true, if you look after it and make sure it is serviced regularly on time (every 3,000 miles) you can easily see 100,000 miles. Don't be put off by this though as there are a couple of ways to make sure you have a healthy car.
- Compression testing is the main way and is measured in bars/PSI. A rotary compression test tool is needed rather than a normal piston compression tester. Any Mazda garage can do a compression test however there are a few specialist independent garages that deal with rotaries solely. You will be looking for a good 6/8 Bar reading, 8 Bar being a brand new rebuilt engine figure while 6 being a decent engine. Go much lower such as a high 5 (5.7 etc) and you should just walk away as the car may not last long. A 4 Bar reading would make you wonder if the car starts or not.
- Secondly a coolant pressure test - again a simple test that all garages should be able to do and all you are looking for here is that the coolant should be able to hold a good pressure.
If you've come this far looking to buy a car you've probably looked at the competition: Toyota Supra Twin Turbo, Mitsubishi GTO, Honda S2000 to name a few.
Why choose the RX7 over all these?
- Supra Twin Turbos are a very big and heavy rear wheel drive car, I havent had the chance to play with one but I understand they do not handle as well as the RX7 but they're supposed to be as fast?
- Mitsubishi GTO 280bhp is the four wheel drive competition, however i feel 4WD is very unnecessary on British roads. There is more transmission loss with 4WD so the BHP figure stated will actually be a lot less on the road in reality. Interior looks inferior to the RX7. The GTO was also in Top Gear's hardback book "Crap Cars" and was the 9th Crap car out of about 50!
- Honda S2000 is the only naturally aspirated car here however it deserves its place. 2.0L 240bhp RWD with a 0-60 of 6.2 seconds. Interior is nicer than a GTO but not as driver focused as the RX7.
The RX7s interior is very focused like a cockpit. The handbrake is already in your pocket and you feel like you're playing Tom Cruise's role in Top Gun. It is very snug so if you are tall/overweight try getting in one before you buy it! Visibility is still good out of the rear window but as with most coupes you do have a lack of blind spot views. For short journeys the rear seats are fine - they come from the factory as leather 'bucket' seats which means even the passengers in the back are sitting close to the road. The driving position feels luxurious so you know this is a car that you would feel comfortable in for long distance journeys.
I service the RX7 myself and oil changes take no time at all. The oil filter is located in the top right of the engine bay which is easily accessible, and the sump plug is in a very good location too. Try having the passenger side jacked up a little more to help the oil flow out. Mazda recommend Mineral Oil only which is a lot cheaper than synthetic!
When you drive an RX7 you will find you can surprise 600+cc motorbikes, say bye bye to BMW M3s and even push Ferrari Testarossa's up the road... i know I have! ;)
High petrol costs and group 20 insurance is wallet crippling if you are under 21 years old like me but if you can afford it and you love fast Japanese cars this is actually the Mecca for you.
The best design to date for this car. A perennially beautiful power plant that has so much potential. Mazda's Rotary Rocket is a very underestimated car...to me it is purely a racing car for the street. I have owned this car 6 years now and it has given me everything I expected in a performance car. With a few modifications such as exhaust, re-calibration of my ECU to name a few examples. I would not trade it for the world!! The car gives you exhilarating performance , great handling characteristics and a real race feel. The cockpit is well designed and the cars shape makes it stand out in a crowd. Of course that unique sound that a rotary engine produces is music to my ears. I just wish Mazda had a whole family of rotary powered vehicles in its line up to show the versatility of this engine.
I know nothing about the machinations of the car engine, I just go on what it looks like, how it drives and how fast it goes! The Mazda RX7 I drove did not belong to me, but I was allowed to drive it. Imported from Japan, this little baby could shift. Purchased by an American with a penchant for all things English, the car had manual drive, sat about 6 inches off the floor, and it went very fast! The car took corners as if it was on wheels, but the small steering wheel did make driving a little uncomfortable. This car looked hot, but cost quite a lot in fuel, even back when fuel was really cheap in the States, especially when you were hammering it down the freeway, over 3000 revs, which you are not allowed to do. With parts having to be shipped from Japan, this little car could cost a lot of money, but who cares, it wasn't mine!