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The Kabura's Genesis
Submitted by Dan Mazzella on Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 10:00am

RotaryNews.Com has been tracking and speculating on Mazda's latest Kabura concept for 3+ years. We first published a story at our website, which speculated on this particular Mazda project, back in February 2003. Then, as now, we were particularly interested in Mazda's engine choice for the concept that was internally dubbed the "Coupe". Our curiosity began to peak in 2002, at the yearly SevenStock Rotary Engine/Enthusiast Vehicle Show, which is sponsored and hosted by Mazda North America Operations at their R&D Studios in Irvine, Ca. The RX-8 was just about to be launched, and Mazda's designers and engineers were already looking for the next big vehicle design. This show had given some of the true rotary car nuts and believers within Mazda a chance to observe and absorb the trends happening within the rotary enthusiast community.


In 2001, SevenStock-4 turned out to be a huge success, but with SevenStock-5 in 2002, Mazda engineers seemed to be on a mission: documenting people's reaction to older classic (1970-1985) Mazda rotary products, especially coupes, as well as the yet to be released RX-8. The row of "old school" RX-2's and RX-3's had an impression not only on attendees, but more importantly, Mazda staff. Many within the company already knew how large a following the RX-3 had, and the effect its "cool" factor had with current young car enthusiast. Rumors had been floating around for a while, but the classic and immaculate rotary powered vehicles at SevenStock seemed to solidify plans for a vehicle design based on the spirit of the classic RX-3 Coupe. RotaryNews.Com heard rumors of preliminary sketches being develop in the weeks before and after the 2002 SevenStock event. It seemed as a lot of ideas and inspirations were actually gathered at the event. Over the next year or so, a persistent stream of rumors and noise on the "Coupe" continued, along with several marketing clinics, for both consumers and industry alike, and the early beginnings of this project seemed to pick up steam within Mazda.



At SevenStock 6, 7, and 8, there again seemed to be a large emphasis in featuring “old school” rotary vehicles. RotaryNews.Com felt that this was no coincidence or mistake, and was actually being done with a purpose. It seemed as if the “old-schoolers” were being emphasized to gauge the reaction for new a product idea, which we now know was code-named the "Coupe"; a car design that was rumored to be a rear wheel drive light-weight rotary rocket. Conceived and based on the spirit of the original 1970’s RX-3. It was around this time that the "Coupe's" business plan began to develop. However, a rotary powered variant seemed to have a cost cloud over its head.


Early rotaries were low-cost compacts, but could the Renesis rotary engine be put into a modern day compact, while still maintaining a low entry level price point (around $18,000)? In the end, we speculate that this financial reality is what kept the Rotary out of the early concept displayed at the North-American-International-Auto-Show in January. All Rotary engines are hand assembled by skill craftsman, in a process that hasn't changed for close to 40 years, and it does not seem realistic to place a new Renesis Rotary into an $18,000 car, and turn a profit.


This rotary engine issue aside, Kabura seems destined for production, and will most likely be released with 2.0 piston power, in what might be called the MX-3. And if there is enough interest in a rotary powered variant from consumers, Mazda might also make the concession to the Wankel in a version called the RX-3. But, there’s still a challenge to Kabura reaching production though, as Mazda has not clearly labeled a winner in its in-house international design competition that has been on-going over the last year+, and given us the SASSOU and SENKU concepts, from Mazda Europe and Japan, respectively. And we might still see another competitor to Kabura in the next few months, as Mazda Japan is rumored to be working on a entry level small car platform at the request of Ford. Ford is looking to bolster its bottom line in the US market with a entry level vehicle, and knows it can leverage Mazda’s engineering expertise to so. The vehicle that emerges from this exercise might also pose a threat to Kabura’s production aspirations.


However, we recently received word from Japan that the word went out from the top of Engineering saying that the Rotary is top priority at Mazda now, and not to be pushed off the side. The message went on to talk about the history of the Rotary at Mazda, and how some wanted to drop the engine all together. The benching of the rotary is to stop, and it is to become a very intergal part of their future strategy.


But as sport compact enthusiast and consumers we can make a difference in getting the Kabura concept into production. We've said it many times at RotaryNews.Com that Mazda listens to enthusiast. If you would like to see the new Kabura Coupe make production with either a low-cost piston version, and or a high powered rotary version, please say so, and let Mazda know! Talk to Mazda, either by posting comments at RotaryNews.Com, or by going to the Mazda USA website (http://www.mazdausa.com/) directly and letting them know that you want this car built. Tell them how much you would be willing to pay for a Production Kabura (call it the RX-3) with a higher powered rotary engine under the hood... or the lower powered Kabura (MX-3) with an economical piston that’s priced accordingly. We need an economical RWD coupe back in the USA!

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subject:
kabura
author:
date:
November 22, 2006 - 8:52am
The kabura is a look at the 2009 rx-8 not rx-3/rx-7.
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subject:
Continue with the rotary! Keep going with the RX-8s!
author:
date:
July 6, 2006 - 5:27am
Yes, I want Mazda to further develop the Rotary. I have an RX-8 and I love it. I want them to continue to strive for more economy and power and put the Rotary on a par (or even improve on) it's piston engined counterparts. Direct injection and the addition of a super-trailing spark plug seem the way to go to provide this and meet the ever-more stringent emissions regulations.

For a forced induction solution, I think Mazda could do worse than to go have a word with Axial Flow Engineering about their unique supercharger, possibly one of the few designs capable of providing the volume of air required across the rotary's whole 9k rpm range.

As far as models are concerned. I know many would like to see a new RX-7, a 2-seater coupe. But I don't want Mazda to kill the RX-8. I want to be able to carry more than one passenger. I want them to continue to develop the 4-seat coupe RX-8 model, as a practical alternative to the RX-7.
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subject:
Rx3 Kabura
author:
date:
June 20, 2006 - 10:19pm
I've been with the rotary's for over 10 years. Owned many.
I also rebuild, modify and tune. I am waiting on the next
rx super car from Mazda. From what I'm hearing, Toyota is
bringing back the Supra, and Nissan is bringing its Skyline.
We need a two seated rx super car from Mazda to keep up
with the pace. I have an 03' Navigator ready for trade
towards this next rotary powered sports car.
I understand that you guys don't want the price to kill the
car. So even just a two seated option for the Rx3 Kabura
would be great. Even if it doesn't keep with the competition
to keep the price more affordable. I'd still buy it.
Thanks for keeping the rotary alive MAZDA. GREAT JOB!!!
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subject:
Kabura
author:
date:
June 12, 2006 - 6:32pm
I currently own a Rx2 series 3 and a Rx4 series 3 sedans.
I have two small children and would strongly consider trading/selling both these to buy a NEW entry level rotary powered coupe.
Please produce this car in rotary format.
However,
As DMRH69 states, Mazdas seem to be over priced here in Australia, So Mazda had better think carefully on that topic.
RX8 sales make the statement here!!
I Can't afford a $65K + motor vehicle
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subject:
I plan on buying a new car in
author:
date:
June 9, 2006 - 2:19pm
I plan on buying a new car in a couple of years( when I hit 25 and insurance drops down) and I am hoping that Mazda will put out I Kabura influenced rotary rocket. Ever since I saw the design, I have been waiting to hear the words "Mazda's new rotary vehicle..." So you can count me in as another supporter for a rotary/piston choiced Kabura vehicle. I am even adding to my piggy-bank right now for it. -Jeromy
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subject:
My day-dream scenario
author:
date:
June 9, 2006 - 4:11am
Mazda releases the Kabura as both the MX3 and RX3. The MX3 costs $19000 and has a 158-170 hp I4. The RX3 costs $21500 and has 232 hp rotary + LSD + sport suspension ($2500 extra is probably a reasonable estimate for the extra cost for the rotary, LSD, and suspension upgrades). MX3 weighs ~2430 pounds and RX3 weighs ~2480. Make the suspension/LSD available as an option on the MX3.

Both would be cheap, RWD, seat 3 or 4, and have comfortable rides and balanced and neutral dynamics. Purists could opt to put up with the rotary's thirsty nature in exchange for having a 13-second car with slightly sportier ride.

Personally, I'd shell out a little more for the RX8's 185-190 rwhp vs the MX5's 135 rwhp.

Everyone wins!
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subject:
Kabura RX-3
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 5:13pm
The original hummer: RX-3. As a long time owner of rotaries 73 RX-2, 74 RX-3, 75 REPU, 91 RX-7, a new RX-3 at a reasonable price would be the thing that could bring back the excitement in the US for "pocket rockets" and stimulte the fun economical sporty car like they did in the 70's with the RX platforms. The key is to keep the price affordable for the entry level buyer and build brand loyalty that they can build up or move up to without breaking the bank much as they did with the 808 and RX-3. Build the RX-3 it will be a hit as long as the price is very competitive. It will add to the current lineup of performance i.e. the 3, 6 , MX-5 Miata and all the Mazdaspeed variants.
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subject:
Kabura RX3
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 4:28pm
I've been a long time Mazda owner, 1983 RX7, 1992 929, 2004 RX8, and I must say that the Kabura design is nothing less than awesome! Come on Mazda do the right thing and put a rotary powered engine in the Kabura and call it the RX-3! I'm sure they would sell like hotcakes!
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subject:
Build it.
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 12:46pm
MAZDA, build this car, and we will come. Enthusiasts, Rotorheads (myself included), and newbies will fully embrace the Kabura. MX-3 for piston power, and RX-3 for rotary power. This can be your ace in the hole. I also liked the comment on making a new Ford Probe.
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subject:
great story re Kabura/Coupe
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 9:15am
count me in as a future buyer of the rotary version of this car!
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subject:
With Mazda Australia ripping
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 5:00am
With Mazda Australia ripping us a 60% mark up on the Japanese price for an RX-8 we Aussies dont get the luxury of your USA 18% mark up so our RX's are much further out of reach & outside the price range for the regular rotary enthusiast.

So the chance of an entry level rotary powered car would set the Aussie showroom on fire with enthusiasts beating down the doors to get their hands on the latest in rotary power. I know I would even complement my 20B-REW Cosmo & have one alongside it in the garage for regular duties.

Sell it as an MX-3 with piston power, then add the price premium & watch the RX-3 sales soar as enthusiasts around the world embrace this back-to-the-future concept.

Small rotary powered coupes fetch huge money in the land of Oz. Just viewing the pages of popular car sales web sites where you can find some Savanna/RX-3 examples fetching over AU$30k. Such is the price we now pay for collectable classics. www.carsales.com.au - www.tradingpost.com.au - are good examples of sites catering to Aussie rotorheads wanting to sell their prestine RX's.
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subject:
MA Ripp OFF
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 2:46pm
We said mate, I emailed then spoke to Malcolm Gough (G Manager of Mazda Oz then) on the eve of the RX-8 release when the Aussie dollar was 75 cents. The 8 was priced 6 months or more before that when it was 57 cents. He contacted me thinking I was media/press(did not want bad publicity), He would not justify the price or change it, saying we 'may' in future add more options without a price rise.
WELL over 3 years the Aussie $$ is still 75 cents, Limited Edition RX-8 models with more goodies cost more again, and sales in Australia have completely stalled, why BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO BLOODY EXPENSIVE.
Every other product here has become so much cheaper, except imported Japanese cars, WHY.
A fully loaded 8 in Japan retails on road for K36AU$,the same car here is K60AU. The USA about K34AU.
Yes, build a cheap compact rotary coupe, but it wont be cheap in Australia.
Another expample...
The Holden Monaro made/built in my home state retailed here for around K56AU$, exported to the US as a Pontiac GTO, sold for K26US$ or converts to K33 Australia Dollar!
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subject:
60% mark up on the RX-8
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 8:08am
That is exactly what killed the RX-7 here in the states. Greedy dealerships slapping horrendous markups on a desirable car. I remember asking a Mazda dealership about the RX-7 one time - their response was "put the cash on the table and we'll order you one". They wanted about $10,000 more than what the same car cost in Japan. Banks will not finance a car for more than MSRP. It does not matter how good a car Mazda makes if the greedy dealerships won't sell it.
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subject:
Its not the retail Dealership
author:
date:
June 8, 2006 - 2:52pm
Its not the retail Dealerships in Australia that set the price of Mazda's, they are done by Mazda Australia as a recommended retail price. You don't normally pay more than the RRP, we try to deal/pay less.
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subject:
kabura
author:
date:
June 7, 2006 - 6:49pm
hey thansk for the great article. love the other lower 2 sketches- i hadnt seen those before. The Kabura has been on tour at shows across the globe while the Sassou and Senku have only been shown in their respective regions. I believe that means Mazda has declared the Kabura the winner. Build it both ways, rotary and piston, and make a variant that Ford can sell as the new Probe.
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subject:
the best news
author:
date:
June 7, 2006 - 2:32pm
this is the best news I have hear in a while, the rotary engine is mazda's trade mark and should be treated with respect.

if the kabura and the rx-.... what they want to call a rotary version are made, mazda should do this the rithg way and give the elise a run for it's money but in good old mazda fashion do it at have the price!

I still dont see the dificulty in it a kabura type car in a mx-5 platfor, rx-8 brakes and suspension, renesis engine, an you have a car with almost super car performance, a car that is going to steel all the front pages of all car publications for a long time.
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