Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Mazda Taiki going with the flow

However, as esoteric as the Taiki may seem at first glance, the car's flowing lines, two-seater configuration and new rotary engine give the strongest clues yet that, despite continued denials, the dream of an RX-7 revival is far from dead.

The Taiki, unveiled at the Tokyo motor show last week, is the fourth in a series of “flow” design concepts Mazda has shown around the world in recent years, utilising styling inspired by the Japanese concept of “nagare” (flow) as found in the forces of nature.

“We wanted the concept car for the Tokyo show to convey the beauty and power of nature, while emphasising the splendour of the environment,” says chief designer Atsuhikoi Yamada.

The design team started with the idea of a set of “hagaromo”, the flowing robes that enable a celestial maiden to fly in Japanese legend. Converting the image to reality called for radical thinking, including soaking material in plaster and hanging it to dry while it flapped in the breeze.

From that starting point came a design that is one of the automotive world's most aerodynamically efficient. The Taiki, with its heavily sculptured flanks, tapered shape and radical off-set covered rear wheels has a drag coefficient of just 0.25 — and zero lift.

Under the bonnet is Mazda's next generation Renesis rotary, a 1.6-litre unit slated to replace the 1.3-litre 13B engine in the current RX-8 and an ideal starting point for a focused two-seater sportscar to revive the RX-7 badge.

The new motor is more powerful — although Mazda is giving away no figures — with higher torque output.

It is more efficient because of the use, for the first time on a rotary engine, of direct fuel injection and the greater use of aluminium.

The engine drives through a new seven-speed twin-clutch automatic in the style of VW's DSG, a development Mazda is certain to push through to the RX-8 to counter criticism of the traditional automatic's poor performance when coupled to the rotary engine.

In keeping with the art-meets-function theme, the interior of the Taiki is striking and simple. The passenger side features white leather and the driver's side black; Mazda says the contrast is a representation of the forces of yin and yang. The seats are painted with Zen calligraphy and styling to emphasise flow of the wind.

Also on show from Mazda is the latest evolution of the company's hydrogen rotary-engine strategy. The Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid will next year join the RX-8 Hydrogen RE on a program of leasing to corporations and local government bodies.

The Premacy, in common with the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, which has been leased since 2006, can run on both hydrogen and petrol. Mazda claims the new car will have an extended range due to improvements in the hydrogen rotary giving it a 40 per cent increase in efficiency — and a more refined hybrid system. The hybrid system, which converts energy from hydrogen combustion into electricity to power the electric motor, is aimed at solving the issues of low torque and poor combustion efficiency in the conventional hydrogen rotary engine.

The new system overcomes both of these problems and, combined with increased hydrogen capacity, extends the hydrogen-fuelled range to about 200km — or twice that of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE.

The new Premacy is also a showcase for Mazda's newly developed, plant-sourced bioplastic suitable for extrusion-moulded automobile interior parts. The research also came up with a biofabric made of polylactate fibres with wear, fire and weather resistance properties suitable for use in car seat covers.

View cars for sale