Friday, June 26, 2009

2008 Mazda RX-8

Mazda has announced the pricing and specifications for its updated RX-8 range – the car that Mazda likes to refer to as, “the world’s most successful rotary-powered sports car”.

Since its launch in July 2003 worldwide sales of the RX-8 have exceeded 170,000 units with Australia accounting for a modest 5,400 of those.

The refreshed 2008 RX-8 has seen its exterior styling sharpened in addition to a number of interior and suspension changes. There are now three models of the RX-8 available, the entry level RX-8, the RX-8 Luxury for those who like their kit and the RX-8 GT for those who like their corners.

Mazda claims that extensive modifications have been made to the Renesis 1.308-litre rotary engine. Manual equipped cars boast the same 170kW’s as the outgoing model with changes made to enhance low-to-mid range response. The standard gearbox across the range is a 6-speed manual unit adapted from the MX-5 and Mazda have shortened the final drive ratio to 4.777:1.

Only the Luxury variant can be optioned with an automatic gearbox, now a 6-speed Aisin unit dubbed the Activematic. Option the auto gearbox and you’ll get the booby prize, a 158kW version of the Renesis rotary and while that might be an increase of 17kW over the outgoing model, it’s still paying more for less. Oddly, the torque output for both versions has dropped by 8Nm to 211Nm.

Mazda has improved the useability and refinement of the interior and if you opt for the Luxury then you will also enjoy the standard inclusion of a sunroof, 300W Bose® sound system (developed jointly with Mazda), leather trim and an 8-way powered driver’s seat.

If you’re looking for a sportier drive then the new GT model is the one to buy. It includes upgraded suspension for improved handling, lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza 225/40 R19 tyres and a sports body kit that includes front fog lamps. Inside the GT the big ticket items are a pair of Recaro front seats.

On the safety front, the standard kit is impressive and includes front and side airbags for both the driver and front passenger along with curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) round out the active safety inclusions.


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