Mazda, the Japanese car manufacturer known for vehicles imbued with a certain sporty feel, has recently stopped production of the RX-8. Arguably the flagship of the range, the RX-8 was axed due to poor sales (1134 units sold last year) and tighter global emission standards, especially in Europe, that cannot be feasibly met by the RX-8’s engine. Customers in the US are able to snap up the last 300 units in their country’s stock; no new RX-8’s will be produced as the Hiroshima plant has stopped churning them out.
Just a briefer on what a unique car the RX-8 was. It is the most recent of the RX-series of Mazda vehicles, sports cars powered by the only clean-sheet internal-combustion engine designed in the 20th century, and the only non-reciprocating piston engine in mass production, the Wankel rotary engine. Producing 240hp from 1.3liters of naturally-aspirated displacement and producing a smooth, turbine-like engine noise, the Renesis rotary motor may not have the same power as say a WRX, but its light weight was conducive to a vehicle that featured razor-edged handling characteristics. The RX-8 was raved by enthusiasts, despite having poor fuel economy and gutless torque figures, simply because it was a precision track instrument that involved the driver, instead of isolating him, a characteristic found in many a modern appliance. Its rear “suicide”-hinged doors allowed relatively comfortable seating for two extra passengers, and it had a boot, allowing the RX-8 to be practical as well as playful.
We’ll miss the RX-8, and since the rotary engine is Mazda’s engineering calling card, we await its replacement with bated breath.