Mazda is celebrating 40 years of putting engines inspired by pony kegs in their cars by rolling out a special version of the RX-8 2+2. Mazda's official hyperbole about the RX-8 brags that the car changed customer expectations of what an affordable sports car should be when they launched the four-place coupe in 2003. It sure did; we've now come to expect less than the stated power output from the Renesis Wankel, which also swills oil like a... well, like a Wankel. Now that we've ensured that every single Rotary fan on Autoblog will lambaste us, let's go on to say that we really do like them. Any engine you can mercilessly spin out to 10,000 RPM without aerating the block has significant entertainment value. The fact that there's about three major moving parts is cool, too.

The Special Edition RX-8 has two new colors for its sinewy sheetmetal, Metropolitan Grey and Crystal White Pearl. There's also new ten-spoke wheels, blue tinged foglamps, and the obligatory emblems to dress up the exterior. Open the clamshell doors and the Special Edition greets you with a specially outfitted interior, full of Alcantara, contrast stitching, leather, and silver bits. It's not all just prettying up, either. The suspension crossmembers get shot full of foam for quieter operation, and there are new springs that are held in check by Bilstein dampers. So, while there's been no massive power upgrade to the RX-8, the Special Edition is more than just a glamorization of an affordable, entertaining coupe.

Press release after the jump.

Related GalleryMazda RX-8 Special Edition




PRESS RELEASE

Mazda RX-8 Special Version

Celebrating Mazda's Rotary Tradition

• Two special body colours, wheel design and 40th anniversary emblem

• Special seat/trim materials, leather stitching and silver shift knob

• Foam-filled cross member and sports suspension with Bilstein dampers

As it did with the MX-5 roadster in 1989, Mazda changed customer expectations of what an affordable sports car should be when it launched the Mazda RX-8 in 2003. It redefined the Mazda sports car with a strong and sporty Zoom-Zoom design that visually shows its performance potential. It created a new class of four-seater sports cars by resurrecting the centre-opening door system – a feature that is just as fresh and innovative today as it was four years ago. And under the bonnet was the naturally- aspirated RENESIS rotary engine. This engine won the International Engine of the Year award in 2003 along with three other category awards in both 2003 and 2004.

Since Mazda RX-8 came to market, Mazda has dominated sales in the European non-premium sports car segment with a share consistently around 18 percent (combined RX-8 and Mazda MX-5 sales).

The Special Edition RX-8

Based on a special version concept presented at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and following the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the rotary engine, Mazda Motor Corporation is issuing a Special Edition RX-8 (depending on market) that adds components to the chassis and body shell, and exterior and interior features , all of which raise the bar on affordable sports cars once again.

Exterior – Special Body Features for Sporty Sophistication

The normal Mazda RX-8 combines classical sports car aesthetics described by its original designers as "athletic tension" that visually communicates performance potential. It is dynamic and sporty with short overhangs, striking fenders and bumpers, and a unique bonnet line. For the Special Edition RX-8, these exterior features are enhanced to celebrate Mazda's rotary engine history with two specially designed exterior colours – a newly-developed Metropolitan Grey that gives the RX-8's sporty form a strong touch of sophistication; and Crystal White Pearl that will set it apart on European roads. Enhancing the Special Edition's look of sporty sophistication is also a new ten-spoke, bright- grey wheel design, new blue-light fog lamps and a 40th anniversary emblem at the back of both front fenders .

Interior – Special Seat/Trim Materials and Cockpit Enhancements

The Mazda RX-8 is known for having a stylish and premium interior ambience that is both sporty and modern. It has four sport seats with superior long-trip comfort and good side support for sporty driving, and headrests in the form of a triangular rotary. In front of the driver is a leather-covered steering wheel and parking brake lever, a triangular rotary- shape shift knob and a tachometer scaled to 10,000 rpm to reflect the high-revving characteristics of it RENESIS rotary engine. For the Special Edition RX-8, the interior has several enhancements that celebrate the car's premium look and feel. These include seat materials developed for the Special Edition RX-8 with light grey Alcantara ® * in the centre and black leather at the sides , combined with special trim materials in matching colours. For an extra touch of quality, the steering wheel is black leather – to match the sides of the seats – with light stitching to match the colours of the seat middle. And the shift lever is covered in the same black leather with light stitching and features a silver shift knob centre .

Special Foam-Filled Front Suspension Cross Members and Bilstein Sports Suspension

The Mazda RX-8 is one of the best handling cars in its class. It features a front-midship engine layout and rear-wheel drive, which results in a perfect 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles. It also delivers outstanding torsional rigidity with a unique transmission tunnel structure where the upper side of the tunnel is a rigid, closed-section high-mount backbone frame that is joined to the mainframe front and back. For the Special Edition RX-8 – which comes standard with the High Powered RENESIS engine producing 170 kW/231 PS at 8,200 rpm , maximum torque of 211 Nm at 5,500 rpm, 18-inch aluminium wheels, and the short shifting six-speed manual transmission – front suspension cross members are now filled with polyurethane foam for even more quiet operation and sharper handling than the original. And further enhancing the RX-8's acclaimed handling characteristics is a sports front suspension with special springs and Bilstein dampers all around – only available for the Special Edition – that provides even more sporty driving fun.