Mazda launches updated version of RX-8

* Sports styling pack as standard * Tweaked gear ratios * Costs 24,995...

Mazda launches updated version of RX-8

Mazda has launched a face-lifted version of its RX-8 coupe called the R3.

It has the same 228bhp twin-rotary engine as the current model, but with a refreshed exterior and revised steering and suspension to improve its handling.

Buyers get a Sports styling pack as standard, which comprises a sport front bumper, side skirts and rear wing all in body colour.

In addition, the R3's standard features include larger 19-inch alloy wheels, new Recaro front sports seats, automatic xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, an integrated Bluetooth phone system and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with a 6-CD autochanger.

The updated exterior features new front headlamps, twin round LED rear lamps and a redesigned bumper with larger exhaust pipes. There will also be four new colours.

The gear ratios have also been tweaked to ensure that motorway cruising is quieter, more relaxed and more fuel-efficient.

Special features include a new variable 'red zone' that limits revs while the engine is cold, but allows full use of the 9000rpm rev-band when the engine is warm. The instrument cluster has also been redeveloped to help minimise eye strain.

The new model will be available from late August and will cost 24,995 - that's around 1900 dearer than the outgoing model, but Mazda says that to equip a current car with the equipment on an R3 would cost more than 25,000.