Buyers in the U.K. are about to get their first crack at the revised 2009 Mazda RX-8, as the quad-door sportscar officially goes on sale in late August. All RX-8's destined for the U.K. will get the full body-kit that's optional in other markets. We've already seen all the images of the only rotary-powered mass market car in the world that we can stand, so lets move on to what's changed under the skin. Shorter final drive gearing combined with a steeper (numerically lower) sixth gear will allow the high-strung engine to reach its power-band earlier in gears one through five while still maintaining reasonable revs when cruising in sixth. New Recaro sport seats spice up the cabin and 19-inch rims with rotor-shaped spokes add some flair to the exterior.
Though power levels remain unchanged, the Renesis rotary engine sees minor revisions as well, with improved cooling as one main feature. Also updated are the oil metering pump -- all rotary engines ingest oil during normal operation -- and computer software which limits high-speed operation until the velvety-smooth powerplant has reached a proper operating temperature, likely to improve reliability somewhat. All in all, the '09 update of the sports coupe is pretty thorough, though the result is still instantly recognizable as an RX-8.
[Source: Mazda U.K.]
New Mazda RX-8 R3 Delivers Even More Driving Fun
Later this year Mazda is introducing a new version of its unique rotary-engined, four‑seater, four-door coupe – the Mazda RX-8 R3. Powered by an improved version of the 231ps twin-rotor engine, the new R3 will offer drivers a heightened experience with faster steering, chassis and engine responses, more refinement, more equipment and even greater value.
On sale from late August, the new Mazda RX-8 R3 will be priced at £24,995 (on‑the‑road) and, together with the Mazda MX-5, is sure to maintain Mazda's position as 'Britain's favourite sportscar brand' with a 25 per cent share of that market sector.
"New Mazda RX-8 R3 is the ultimate expression of Mazda's brand DNA, demonstrating our determination to do things differently," enthuses Mark Cameron, Mazda UK Marketing Director.
"The R3 delivers an even more focused and even more sporty driving experience, while retaining the original model's many uniquely attractive technical innovations and adding numerous premium features.
"Thanks to its Sports Styling Pack, stiffer body shell, up-rated suspension, lower gearing, enhanced aerodynamics and new Recaro sports seats, the new Mazda RX-8 R3 is a truly exciting sportscar with immense driver appeal. It remains the perfect 'flagship' model for Mazda in the UK," adds Cameron.
"The changes made for R3 have not detracted in any way from the unique selling points that made the Mazda RX-8 such a stunning car at its 2003 launch. RX-8 is still the world's only rotary-engined production car, and that very rare creation, a genuine four-seater coupe. The free-style doors ensure good access and the car has the typical Mazda functionality, practicality and reliability that also make it a 'use-me-every-day' kind of car. With the new-look Sports Styling Pack for the RX-8 R3, Mazda is taking a step back towards its sportscar heritage, giving its coupe the appearance of a Japanese racing car," declares Cameron.
The standard-fit Sports Styling Pack comprises a sport front bumper, side skirts and rear wing all finished in body colour. The new model's front wings no longer feature the air-extractor vents behind the wheel arches and accommodate the turn-repeater light instead.
Mazda RX-8 has always had the appearance of a classic sportscar with a powerful‑looking and dynamic exterior design. The new R3 version enhances this with a new front bumper design that has a larger five-point grille and oil cooling openings (below the front fog lights), that are nearly twice as large as on the original model for an even stronger look and improved cooling. Added to this are new front headlamps, new front fender designs, new twin round LED rear lamps and a redesigned rear bumper with larger exhaust pipes (now 90mm in diameter) – all executed with a beautiful attention to detail and a superb build quality that Mazda drivers have grown to expect.
The more aggressive appearance created by the revised styling is complemented by the all-new larger diameter 19-inch alloy wheels with ultra-low profile 40 section tyres. These extra-light wheels have five 'rotor-shaped' spokes and are finished in dark titanium.
At under £25,000, the new RX-8 R3 is still incredibly good value for a 146mph sportscar with the ability to reach 62mph in just 6.4 seconds. A previous model RX-8 of equivalent power, with leather trim and metallic paint would actually have cost more than the highly specified new RX-8 R3.
The new Mazda RX-8 R3 will be available in four new body colours – Aurora Blue mica, Crystal White pearlescent, Diamond Grey metallic and Sparkling Black mica – and two carry-over colours, Sunlight Silver metallic and Velocity Red mica. A solid paint finish is not available and whatever colour customers choose, there is no additional charge.
Rotary Powertrain – Enhanced Sports Car Performance
The uniquely high-revving RENESIS engine of the new RX-8 is evolved to deliver sharper responses and even more driving fun, although the outright power and torque are unchanged. Maximum power is 231ps at 7,500rpm and maximum torque is 211Nm at 5,500rpm.
Several measures have been taken to enhance engine lubrication in the new R3. The metering oil pump drive is now electromagnetic, rather than mechanical, and the pump is now mounted semi-directly at the supply position. The oil capacity is enlarged to 7.0-litres and a larger oil cooler air intake generates a 6°C drop in oil temperature at maximum engine speeds.
The rotary engine's acclaimed smoothness and cultivation is enhanced by the introduction of a two knock sensor system, a first for Mazda, which improves the detection and prevention of knock. Drive shaft torsional rigidity has been increased by 30 per cent improving driving performance and reducing NVH.
The new RX-8 R3 also features variable 'red-zone' technology which limits revs at a cold start to protect the engine and allows full use of the car's uniquely broad 9,000rpm rev-band when it is fully warmed.
Using a 700ps race-tuned four-rotor rotary engine, Mazda won the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1991, beating hot favourites Porsche along the way. Mazda was the first and is still the only Japanese manufacturer to have achieved this classic motorsport feat.
Every new Mazda RX-8 R3 comes with a new six-speed manual gearbox developed from the transmission fitted in the smooth-shifting third-generation MX-5. This unit has better overall shift feel, making the new R3 even more fun to drive. It is fitted with a higher top ratio (0.787:1) for quieter, relaxed and fuel-efficient cruising – and R3 is fitted with a lower final drive ratio (4.777 compared to 4.444 for the previous model) for a sharper getaway from standstill and improved performance feel.
Improved Ride and Handling
The new RX-8 R3 continues to feature the front-midship engine, rear-wheel drive configuration of the original, delivering an ideal 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles for fantastic handling characteristics. This acclaimed attribute is taken to a new level with improved overall body shell rigidity, steering feel and handling stability.
Mazda engineers have stiffened the body shell so that torsional (twisting) and flexural (bending) rigidity have been increased by 5.4 and 8.7 per cent respectively.
Revised steering and suspension deliver even better steering feel and driving stability. New damper, spring, suspension bush and stabiliser settings are introduced for enhanced ride comfort, while Bilstein® sports suspension and a urethane foam filled front suspension cross member ensure a more linear steering feel with a quieter and smoother ride for optimal comfort. The multi-link rear suspension geometry is fine tuned for increased stability.
Also contributing to the evolved handling of the new Mazda RX-8 is its exterior design, which is updated for improved aerodynamic performance and reduced lift, enhancing performance feel and high-speed stability. Underbody airflow is optimised as well by a redesigned and extended floor covering. All these modifications do not harm the aero Cd which remains a highly competitive 0.30.
Maximised premium equipment, maximised value
Marketed as a single model, the new R3 is so highly specified that no factory-fitted options are available and each car is fitted with more than a dozen items of equipment not previously available on an RX-8.
The interior of the new RX-8 is just as sporty and sophisticated as its predecessor, and adds new trim materials for a further improvement in quality look and feel. For the driver, the cockpit is even sportier with new Recaro sports front seats, a tachometer that now has a variable red-zone that rises as the engine comes to operating temperature, an instrument cluster with a newly developed colour to help minimise eye strain, and a new-style steering wheel.
In addition to the Sports Styling Pack, larger 19-inch diameter alloy wheels and Recaro front seats, every R3 comes with 12 new items such as cruise control, automatic light-sensing xenon headlamps, automatic rain-sensing wipers, an integrated Bluetooth® system and special R3-badged carpet mats.
Buyers will also enjoy the new BOSE premium audio system with Centerpoint surround sound and AudioPilot® noise compensation technology exclusively designed for R3 with an eight-channel digital amplifier. A 6-CD autochanger, nine speakers and an AUX auxiliary jack (for connecting an MP3 player), complete the audio system.
Enhanced ownership benefits
As well as benefiting from hyped performance feel and significantly improved NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness), new RX-8 R3 owners will find it easier to live with as an 'everyday' car.
Checking the oil level in the R3 is now easier. The oil dip-stick has been moved from the side of the engine to the top of the engine cover, for quick and easy checking of the oil level. Engine oil capacity has been increased to 7.0-litres. And owners can now enjoy driving the new Mazda RX-8 longer between fuel fill ups. It has a larger 65.4-litre petrol tank holding 3.6-litres more fuel.