• May 5th 2010 at 12:31PM
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2009 Mazda RX-8 – Click above for high-res image gallery

According to "a well placed source at Mazda's North American Operations," Motor Trend is reporting that the aging RX-8 is set to exit stage left here in the States after the 2011 model year. As it is, the rotary-powered sportscar is slated to see the European guillotine at the same time due to its inability to meet Euro V emissions standards.

There are a number of issues that all manufacturers that have chosen to borrow the rotary engine design from Felix Wankel have had to deal with, not the least of which have been poor fuel efficiency, comparatively high exhaust emissions and excessive oil consumption. It seems that these same long-running plagues may kill off yet another fun-to-drive rotary-powered model from Mazda.

Mazda has not made any formal announcements as to the death of the RX-8 or the rebirth of the perennially rumored RX-7 revival. That said, we'd be more than a little shocked if Mazda didn't renew its commitment to the high-revving, barrel-shaped rotary engine wrapped up in some sort of innovative package within the next few model years. We'll see.

[Source: Motor Trend]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why has Mazda stuck with rotary engines so long? Because that's their heritage. The RX8 never appealed to me, not because of the engine, but because it's not available as a convertible. Put the engine in a Miata - the possibilities boggle the mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, Mazda, now is your chance.

      Toyota is bringing out an FT86 with a BOXER engine...
      They brought out an LF-A in the "spirit" of the Supra, costing 200G more....
      Nissan has the GT-R with a V6 instead of an inline 6 and a striked Skyline S on the hood...
      Subaru has an overweight and overraught STi...
      Mitsubishi has an EVO with something other then a 4G63, which is also not light...
      And Honda, once at the top of the food chain of performance, has a crappy little CR-Z hatchback that they think someone will mistake as a good succesor to the CR-X.

      Stop the slaughtering of names...

      This is your chance to bring back a lightweight, twin turbo, rotary powered two seater RX-7.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with all that except for "rotary". The Wankel is not the future of automotive power - it's barely the present. But a small turbo 6 or turbo 4 would do nicely.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ cdwrx

        Do more research. I'm sure if you've ever dealt with the boxer in a wrx you'd understand both the upside (burbley, torquey goodness!) and downside (changing spark plugs or blowing a head gasket) of doing things differently. No different for the rotary.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry, but this rotary engine looks DOA... too low MPG, high emission and high oil consumption spells excessive R&D dollars to keep it alive when the "clock is ticking" to meet CAFE rqmts... worldwide... sorry RIP!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      As an owner of the Series II (2009) RX-8 I think I am "qualified" to talk about this car.
      I have not regretted ONE MOMENT in buying this Superb Sports Car, after driving for over 40 years and owning almost 50 brand new cars, from European, Australian, Japanese and thank got Not one US made car. The RX-8 gives me a thrill like NO other I have owned.
      Yes, it uses Gas...SO WHAT...I do not buy a Sports Car for Economy. The Rotary engine is what MAKES this car. It has more than enough Power and living in a highly regulated (camera) Country it is PLENTY fast enough. The Handling, Steering, Suspension and Communication between the driver, engine and road is again..Faultless.
      Yes, Mazda had a few issues with the first Series (thanks to Ford's penny pinching), but ALL makes and Brands of cars do, after 2 years and 30,000 KMS of ownership I have not had ONE fault or problem with my RX-8...NOT ONE.
      Big deal I use one Litre of Oil every 5000 KMS, Many other brands of Piston Engines can use more, like Subaru, Toyota and even Porsche. And we know these makes have also had Engine Failures.. If you have never owned an RX-8 you are missing out on something VERY Special in the Automotive World...it is a keeper.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The RX-8 is an incredible car to drive, both on track and storming down backroads. It is a shame that the engine has always been the weak link in its otherwise perfect track record. It was nice and smooth to rev up to that 9K redline though.

      Maybe Mazda could refine the MZR found in the Mazdaspeed3 and CX-7 for use in the next gen RX-8 instead of wasting a ton of R&D money on the rotary.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What modifications, might I ask? I own a Mazdaspeed3 and I'm curious. I've only seen fully bolted + tune hit more than 300whp and for 350 there is a bit more involved. I agree that Mazda can be a more successful in creating one that is stout enough than backyard tuners, though.

        The MZR DISI turbo is relatively weak compared to the other engines (SRT-4, Cobalt SS, WRX, EVO) in it's class or one step above. It simply cannot handle the same power unless further substantial upgrades are made.

        Don't get me wrong, I love my car and the MZR DISI turbo, but I think it's the wrong move for the RX series. The 1.3 Renesis is pretty light and I'm not sure how the MZR DISI would affect the 50:50 weight distribution. A torquey FI engine would also completely change the behavior compared to a smooth revving rotary, as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've got a CP-E SRI and a CP-E turbo inlet pipe on my 2010 goofy ass grinning MS3.

        Compared to the first generation, my engine ran out of steam at about 5800RPM versus the G1 which completely fell on its face after 5500RPM. The SRI and TIP make a very noticeable improvement in both power and rasing the "dead zone". The Cobalt SS/TC has more power mod for mod as the MZR, but it is fueling limited just like the DI engine in our vehicles. You run into the duty cycle very quickly when working with a F/I DI motor.

        Anyway, yes the rotary is lighter than the MZR but it is so hard to design a proper rotary and make it efficient as well. The Renesis always seemed somewhat of a work in progress to me. I think Mazda would be able to get 50:50 distribution back, even with the heavier powerplant. I always wanted more torque when driving the RX, but that smooth as butter rotary was very nice as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Relatively weak??? "Only" 350 horsepower? Are you being sarcastic?

        I think that 300 horsepower would be PLENTY in a vehicle that weighs what the current RX-8 weighs.

        The MZR runs out of steam because of the small turbo and restrictive factory airways, not because it was designed that way. I've added two modifications to my Mazdaspeed3 and the power doesn't completely die until about 6300RPM. This can be tuned out from the factory, and of course they could make the internals more stout if they wanted more power.

        We aren't talking backyard tuners here....
        • 5 Years Ago
        The MZR DISI turbo in the MS3/MS6 is relatively weak and hits a ceiling at about 350HP without upgrading internals. It also runs out of steam above 5500. Mazda has spent some considerable R&D in developing the 16X rotary and I can't help but think that's they're next step for the RX series (http://www.mazda.com/mazdaspirit/rotary/16x/).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know rotaries are a blast, and I still love the style of the RX-8, but the issues with the wankel for me are what keeps it out of my driveway. I really wish they'd drop the turbo 4 in this thing or a small 6 otto.
        • 5 Years Ago
        But then you'd have to call it something else. You simply cannot keep the "RX" designation without the rotary engine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It really wouldn't drive the same either.
      • 5 Years Ago
      like beating a dead horse while hyundai and kia zoom-zoom on by..........robert davis is a putz
      • 5 Years Ago
      1) The oil cousumption is not bad. Its about 1 quart every 2500 miles. I dump a quart in halfway between oil changes.

      2) I have not had any reliability issues in 6 years / 75,000 miles.

      3) This car will outhandle just about anything on the road. The only car I have driven that has better handling is a Lotus Elise. It is also a beast on the auto-x track. It has won the SCCA B-Stock Solo2 championship that last 5 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the RX-8, and it's unfortunate that it will exit the market. Mazda should have done more to update this car over the past 7 years. And IMO, it looked a LOT better before the refresh.

      Since Mazda likes to toy around with niche engines, how about building another Miller Cycle engine and use it in the next RX-8. Call it the MX-8 :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well it had to happen sometime, the rotary is behind the times right now, that being said I do hope Mazda can manage to bring it up to current standards. Every now and again you hear of them making it more efficent to operate and more powerful so on and so forth but they never release it. Having driven and almost bought the RX-8 (the dealer was the only reason I dont have one) I can say it handles like nothing in its price range, but that cant make up for the current rotary's short comings. Mazda would have been far wiser to drop a turbo on it would have boosted (no pun intended) the HP and MPG.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not developing a turbo version of the rotary was definitely a mis-step on Mazda's part. Still, I can understand that they might have viewed it as "the easy way out". Rotaries have always dumped tons of power out the tailpipe which means they're great for turbos but those issues would never be truly sorted out unless they stuck to NA.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still say there should be 4 RWD mazda cars, and they should take a page from Aston Martin's product modularity, but at an affordable mainstream budget price point.

      1: Miata 2-seat sports car convertible.

      2: Miata-based, but more aggressive 2-seat hatchback coupe. RX7 successor, but not just an FD-remake. Looks like an FD or a bit of FC, with a bit more affordability, like Miata, and 1st and 2nd gen RX7s. Within reach of most disciplined enthusiasts on a budget.

      3: RWD 5-door sport sedan to replace the RX8, as well as the now non-US Mazda 6 5-door. Mid-size, 4 side doors, and a liftback hatch, 4 seats, sleek lines.

      4: same as 3, minus 2 side doors, for a 3-door 2+2 GT coupe.

      Offer the line with a choice between 3 engines, Rotary, I4, and DI turbo 4... or Rotary, I4 Turbo, and Mustang's 3.7 V6 with 305hp, otherwise.

      RX5, MX5 i4, and Mazdaspeed turbo i4 MX5 Miata.

      RX7, MX7 turbo i4, Mazdaspeed MX7 V6 compact sports car coupe. (like a Mazda take on Aston Vantage. Smaller than the rest of the lineup. This being the coupe and Volante would be the Miata...)

      RX8, MX8 turbo i4, Mazdaspeed MX8 V6 sport sedan. (successor to RX8, Mazda6 5-door, and Millenia, rolled into one mid-sized RWD car. Like a junior Mazda Rapide.)

      RX9, MX9 turbo i4, Mazdaspeed MX9 V6 GT 2+2 sport coupe. (successor to MX6, looks like a junior Mazda DB9/DBS)

      The 8 and 9 would be more generously tech and luxury option equipped as Grand Tourers, rather than the two smaller lightweight sports cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ^ this.

        also mazda could learn a thing or two from ford about interiors... actually they could learn a lot from ford, i'd love to see their entire lineup refreshed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        it is difficult to have a sportscar share major components with other cars

        what usually ends up happening is that it compromises the sportscars feel and all you manage doing is saving costs by cutting sales
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sounds like a great idea until you realize, putting a rotary into a piston engine car wouldn't work well because the engine would be going through the firewall for proper handling. The other way around doesn't work either because piston engines are to tall and would mess up the styling and dynamics of a car designed for a rotary. So this idea has zero feasibility. Sorry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am happy to see it go. I tried to buy an RX-8 on two occasions two years apart. I could not get past how homely and out of proportion it looks.
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