The Japanese automaker Mazda introduced their sports car named the Mazda RX-8 in 2003. However, it was revealed earlier at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. It was introduced as a replacement for the RX-7. Like other models of RX series, it was also equipped with a Wankel engine. The sales began in North America in 2004.on August 23, 2011Mazda made a statement proclaiming that the 2011 model year will be the last model of RX-8 after which the company ceased its production. The RX-8 was also introduced in Europe but was withdrawn in 2010 because it failed to comply with the European emissions standards.
The introduction of rotary engine in the United States by Mazda goes back to 1971. It all started with the introduction of RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, RX-5, and RX-7 sports vehicles in US market. Mazda was forced to withdraw its RX-7from most of the ,markets excluding Japan because it failed to provide comfortable and user-friendly features together with the high retail price and diminishing interest in sports cars and coupes at that time.
However, resurgence occurred in the last half of 1990s in tuning and performance vehicles, perhaps partly because of some cultural influences like the Sony PlayStation video game Gran Turismo. The Japanese car manufacturers including Mazda once again entered in the United States’ performance and sports car market.
By this time, Mazda was trying hard to revitalize itself in automobile market partly with management and financial assistance from Ford. Mazda eventually came up with a new top performance line of vehicles featuring dynamic styling and insightful equipments, starting from the Mazda6 came after Mazda3 and paved the way for the upcoming generation of rotary sports car.
2003 – 2008
The first model of RX-8 was launched in 2003 with a chassis code of SE3P and JMZSE. The vehicle was equipped with the RENESIS 13B-MSP (multi-side port) Wankel 654×2 rotary engine expelling a 1.3-L non-turbo unit. The RENESIS was offered as standard and high power version at its release. The 4-port standard RENESIS delivered 232 hp (173 kW) and mated to a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The high power 6-port RENSIS engine delivered 250 hp (190 kW) with an only 6-speed manual transmission.
Both the engine versions were revised for North American market by Mazda. The 4-port standard RENESIS version was revised to produce 197 hp (147 kW) and the high power 6-port RENSIS version was revised to generate 238 hp (177 kW). Contrary to RX-7 that used the 13B-REW, the RENESIS offered an improve rate of fuel efficiency and emissions with its exhaust ports mounted in the side housing, hence making it comply with US emissions standards.
2009 – 2012
As of 2009 model year, the engineers at Mazda increased the stiffness of the RX-8 body with an introduction of some additional structural strengthening such as a trapezoidal strut tower bar along with the improvement in the front suspension tower areas. Despite its rigid structure, the 2009 RX-8 is lighter than earlier versions by 90 pounds. The engineers also modified the driveshaft stiffness as well as NVH levels with a view to enhance the handling of the vehicle. The performance of the vehicle was overall improved by revising the rear suspension engineering. The gearing ratio is also altered for the 2009 RX-8, i.e. the gearing ratio is lowered on vehicles with manual transmission from 4,444 to 4,777, eventually boosted the acceleration and overall performance of the vehicle.