Mazda plans to build two-door and convertible versions of the rotary-engined RX-8, a sportscar that is likely to be launched in South Africa in the near future.

Mazda plans to build two-door and convertible versions of the rotary-engined RX-8, a sportscar that is likely to be launched in South Africa in the near future.

The development costs of the four-door, four-seat RX-8 were high. It is based on the only platform that the Japanese manufacturer does not share with its parent company, Ford, and the rotary engine is used exclusively in the RX-8.

Thus the steeper development costs have prompted the company to consider model proliferation, Joseph Bakaj, Mazda's head of global product development, said recently. The company wants to build two-seater coupe and convertible versions, he added.

"If we get more volume, and amortise quicker. This is an all-new sportscar platform with a unique collection of parts. I want to reuse that collection of parts with at least one more derivative," Bakaj said.

One reason the new sportscar is called the RX-8 is because it is not a true successor to the RX-7, he said. Such a car would have to be a two-door, two-seater vehicle.

But before Mazda rushes to build another RX-7, Bakaj wants to see how the RX-8 does. Bakaj said the RX-8 has higher volume potential than a two-seater, especially on the US market, because of its easier access and ability to carry more people.

But, he said, Mazda will not proliferate the rotary engine to other Mazda models. That means the MX-5 roadster, which was launched in South Africa mid 2001, won't get an injection of rotary power.

"MX-5 is a brand icon." Bakaj said. "It's simple, light and accessible. If you put the rotary into the MX-5, you have to uprate the suspension and brakes, and the price would become less competitive."

Original article from Car