MAZDA RX2 SEDAN
An optional Mazda Wankel engine was offered and known as the Capella Rotary in Japan or the Mazda RX2 Sedan for export. In addition to the 1.6, a Capella 1500 was added in October 1970. The Capella received a fairly thorough facelift in February 1974. This facelift included a restyled front end (lengthened by 110 mm) and a redesigned dashboard. This model received an optional 1.8-liter (1769 cc) engine for some markets and in Japan it was sold with the “AP” suffix, for “Anti-Pollution”. The 1500 was no longer available. The facelift rotary version received the CB12S chassis code rather than S122A.
The RX-2 was assembled under contract in New Zealand from 1972 for Mazda New Zealand by Motor Industries International in Otahuhu, South Auckland. It was the first and only rotary-engined car ever to be assembled in the country and was made as both a sedan, with manual or automatic transmission and a manual-only coupé. The 616 was also built but was much less popular. In South Africa, where the Capella was assembled first by Illings and then by Sigma, it was available with the 1600 or 1800 reciprocal engines as well as the rotary. The rotary claimed 97 kW (132 PS; 130 hp) SAE in South Africa. The facelift version arrived two years late there, in mid-1976. At the end of that year, the Capella RS was introduced—this lowered version with Rostyle wheels was limited to 20 cars per month. South African production of the Capella Rotary continued into 1979, since Sigma had taken the decision not to build the second-generation Capella there but to focus on the Colt Galant instead.
The Mazda 616 was a major component of Mazda’s United States expansion in 1971, having been preceded by its rotary brother, the RX-2, the previous year. It featured the 1.6-liter (1586 cc) engine, which was later used in the 808. The American Capella was updated and renamed the next year: the 1972 Mazda 618 had a larger 1.8-liter (1796 cc) VB engine which was only used in the US and not related to the similarly-sized “VC” used in the rest of the world. Lasting just one year, the 618 nameplate was not used again in the United States and the only federalized version of the Capella for 1973 was the RX-2.