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Mazda RX-8: New Look

Motoring Channel Staff - 11/January/2008

2008 Mazda RX-8
2008 Mazda RX-8

2008 Mazda RX-8
The front end gets the lion's share of the design
updates, while new tail lights modernise the rear

2008 Mazda RX-8
The interior isn't wildly different to the
last model, save for the front bucket seats

2008 Mazda RX-8
Expect the new Mazda RX-8 to arrive
in Australia mid-way through 2008

Detroit, America Mazda showed off its face lifted RX-8 at the 2008 Detroit Motor Show early this week, and the good news is that it's coming to Australia mid-way through the year.

Since 2003 the Mazda RX-8 has remained unchanged, such was the success of the original design.

But hot on the heels of the Nissan 350Z's recent mid-life upgrade, Mazda has taken the wraps off the 2008 model RX-8 at America's biggest motor show.

"Dating back to the Cosmo Sport released in 1967, every sports car ever developed by Mazda has had the same fundamental mission – to provide car lovers with a vehicle that’s fun-to-drive, exciting to look at and easy to own," said Tetsu Nakazawa of Mazda North America.

"The new RX-8 embodies that mission, conveying the unique and distinctive Mazda brand DNA to the fullest," added Nakazawa.

Update: Mazda Australia has released new information on the 2008 RX-8 model, some of which will be quicker than the previous versions. 

Though the engine hasn't been changed, keeping the same 1.3-litre rotary engine with 177kW and 211Nm power and torque outputs, the final drive ratio in the 6-speed manual models will be tweaked from 4.444 to 4.777. 

The range-topping model, to be named the RX-8 'R3' in Australia (paying homage to the R1 and R2 packages from the third-generation RX-7) is expected to be slightly lighter than other models which would also contribute to its increased acceleration.

These changed will ensure the RX-8 'R3' model accelerates quicker than before, completing the zero to 100km/h dash in about 6.0 seconds, down fromfrom 6.2 secs.

The range-topping model will be similar to the Japanese-spec RS shown here, with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, stiffer Bilstein suspension and Recaro bucket seats.

Along with the improved performance and sports seats, the price is likely to rise from $54,000 to around $60,000 for the R3 model.

Meanwhile Mazda will introduce a new 6-speed automatic in lieu of the old 4-speeder, and power in the de-tuned automatic RX-8 models rises from 141 to 158kW (though torque drops from 220 to 211Nm).

There will be three other Mada RX-8 models besides the R3. The entry-level Sport, the mid-level Touring and the range-topping luxury model in Grand Touring trim, which will get DVD-based sat nav among other things. Prices will start at around $50,000.

The new look Mazda RX-8 shown here will includes larger 19-inch alloy wheels with sports tyres, an extended front spoiler and other niceties such a restyled grille.

As well as the nip-and-tucked front end with new headlight clusters, the rear end has a slightly new design featuring a new look LED brake light cluster and a subtly new rear apron.

There have been reports circulating that the new (non-R3) RX-8 that is being readied for the Detroit Motor Show will be for American drivers only, and to a point it's true. It's a left-hand drive model.

We spoke to Mazda Australia's PR manager and he confirmed that the new-look RX-8 will indeed be coming to Australia mid-year in right-hand drive.

The current RX-8 motor is a 1.3-litre twin rotor engine that outputs 177kW @ 8200rpm, transferring this power to the rear wheels. 

We know that the R# model currently being shown in Japan (as the RS model) also gets Recaro seats, a rear spoiler, and uprated Bilstein suspension for improved handling.

One of the defining features of the Mazda RX-8 are the suicide or barn-style doors. The rear passenger doors hinge from the rear, making for easier access to the back seats.

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Mazda6 MPS (Road Test)
- Mazda Taiki (concept)
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Mazda CX-9 (2008)

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