When the Mazda RX-8 was first launched back in 2003, it created a bit of impact on the global market. Since then, 182,000 units have been sold worldwide. It has even won a number of vehicle awards like the 2003 International Engine of the Year, 2003 Japanese Car of the Year, and the Car of the Year for 2003 awarded by Australia’s Wheels magazine.
For 2004, it was named as UK Car of the Year, the U.S. Best Sports Car, and even Singapore Car of the Year. It has also been mentioned in the Ten Best for Car and Driver magazine for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. Overall, it has garnered 48 global vehicle awards. It comes equipped with the RENESIS Rotary Engine, which has won 9 awards since the 2003 launch.
This latest model has significant updates compared to the 2003 version that includes a new design for the interior and exterior as well as improved performance. It also has an R3 model for driving enthusiasts. The latest RX-8 though continues to have a number of the same features as well as updates.
To make sure that the company is able to meet the demands of the customers, the 2010 RX-8 will come in two trim levels -- the Grand Touring and the Sport. The R3 model in particular was made to satisfy enthusiasts. One of the things that remain in the RX-8 is that it is a balanced and lightweight vehicle powered by the RENESIS twin-rotor rotary engine.
RX-8 vehicle line manager Chris Hill shared that when the Cosmo Sport was first launched back in 1967, all sports cars Mazda made after that follow the same basic principle which is to give car enthusiasts a vehicle that is not only fun to drive but affordable as well.
The 2010 RX-8 is a good example of this as it expresses the distinct DNA Mazda is known for to its full extent, he continued. Still the RX-8 continues to be a sports car that offers a dynamic experience. As a result of the structural reinforcements and the excellent body rigidity, Mazda reconfigured the rear suspension geometry for this model to offer not just better handling performance but also enhanced driveshaft rigidity.
In order to accomplish this, the company made sure to utilize the RENESIS engine. RENESIS refers to a Rotary Engine genesis which represents a rebirth of the rotary engine. The RX-8 thus continues to be the sole rotary-powered passenger car that is mass produced. In addition to displaying a high power output not seen on an aspirated engine, the RENESIS also outperforms other similar engines when it comes to acceleration as it always has reserve power and offers quick response.
There are two versions available for the Mazda RX-8. The first is a 232-horsepower version that has a six-speed manual transmission. The second offers 212-horsepower with a six-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, giving a driving experience similar to that witnessed in a Formula 1 race.
Furthermore, the rotary engine of the RX-8 can efficiently accomplish the four processes which are intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. This is attributed to the use of a triangular rotor inside a cocoon-shaped combustion chamber. The RENESIS engine offers smooth and high revving.
It can go as high as 9,000 rpm or about 7,500 rpm for the Sport A/T-equipped models. Compared to the internal combustion engines in standard vehicles, the RENESIS has a smaller engine footprint. Compared to a V-6 for example, it is 60% lighter and smaller. Meanwhile it is 40% smaller and lighter than a four-cylinder.
All of these features that define what the RX-8 is could only be possible because the engineers did not use a traditional piston engine. The engineers also modified around 40 years of rotary designs. As such, the RENESIS engine has a side intake and even exhaust ports that offer 30% more intake and twice the amount of exhaust area compared to the prior models. All of the efficiencies that are acquired through the use of the exhaust ports and larger intake eliminate the need to have forced induction.
The 1.3-liter engine of the RX-8 may appear to be smaller compared to those that have the V-8s or even the V-10s or V-12s. Still, the RENESIS engine is able to give a smooth and linear power on a larger scale as it uses an electronic throttle, state-of-the-art three-stage intake system, and the highly efficient rotary powerplant.
To reduce the unsprung weight, the double-wishbone front suspension RX-8 uses aluminium components instead of steel ones. The upper and lower arms have been mounted on the rigid sub-frame and thus the long arms guarantee that the linear alignment changes when the front wheels bounce and rebound.
All the wheels of the RX-8 have the gas-filled mono-tube shock absorbers constructed with internal pistons having large diameters and valving. As a result, it offers a smooth ride in addition to providing road feedback. There is also the electric power-steering rack-and-pinion system that channels the correct amount of information from the road to the driver.
Similar to what they did with the other features, the engineers used an electric motor to help with steering assistance instead of the standard power-steering pump. The electric motor gives additional assistance when at low speeds and this helps with the parking.
It can even reduce steering assistance when running at high speed to give better response, feedback, and better road feel. Much like most of its features, the RX-8 is lighter and that much easy to package when compared to the traditional power-steering rack.