Mazda RX-8

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Jim Holder
14 January 2008

Mazda RX-8

This is Mazda's revised RX-8, which will go on sale in the UK in mid-2009.

With 167,000 RX-8s sold around the world, Mazda has opted for a refresh rather than revamp of the styling, but it promises that performance will take a major step forward.

Performance and engines
The car's body has been strengthened to enhance performance, while improved suspension, driveshafts and differentials improve handling and acceleration of the car, particularly from a standstill.

Engine choice is limited to a 230bhp 1.3-litre model fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox or a 210bhp 1.3-litre engine linked to a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox.

Styling changes
Chief among the styling changes are a revised front and rear bumpers, remodelled headlamps and larger exhaust pipes. The wheels also have a unique five-spoke design, evoking the layout of the rotary engine for which the firm is famed.

The clever reversed rear-hinge doors remain, making rear access easy and allowing the RX-8 to carry four adults comfortably.

Inside, new features include a revised centre console with a section on the tachometer that glows a deeper red as the engine temperature rises.

A new steering wheel shape and front and rear seats redesigned for comfort have also been fitted.

These along with the instrument panel and bonnet have been fitted as low as possible to improve handling by creating a lower centre of gravity and allow for greater visibility.

Trim levels
The RX-8 is available in four trim levels.

These are topped by the R3 sport package, which features sports suspension, a rear spoiler, side sills, foglights, 19-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, keyless entry and an aggressive front bumper.

The other three trim levels are called Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.

Safety features
Safety features include ABS, six airbags and stability control, which is an option on the base Sport model and standard on the other trim levels.

Pedestrian safety is also considered, with Mazda's pop-up bonnet system providing protection in an impact.