The Heart of Rotary Performance!

RX-8 Performance Parts Now Available!


RotaryNews Media

Ads by Google

Would you be interested in purchasing a book on the history and development of the General Motors two rotor engine (RC2-206).
Total votes: 30

Who's online
There are currently 0 users and 63 guests online.

Preview: 2004 Mazda RX-8
Submitted by SuperUser on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 9:45am

Today, Nov 15th, Mazda lifts the press embargo on publishing stories on the RX-8. Although a few places jumped the gun, we should see more and more stories on the RX-8.
These previews don't necessarily contain any new information to us, but they do give us a good idea of what to expect once the RX-8 hits the streets mid-next year.
Archive of Article Text!

There are more than a few automobiles that have, over the years, become interchangeable, even synonymous with a particular automaker. Porsche’s 911 is only the first of several to come to mind. But it’s rare when a marque becomes linked more to an engine than an automobile.

It’s been more than seven years since Mazda pulled its RX-7 off the American market (though it has remained a low-volume fixture in Japan). Sure, there’s the Miata, but since the demise of the bigger, faster and more iconic RX-7, Mazda has clearly lost much of its identity. Yet one could make a good argument that it wasn’t the RX-7 that so symbolized the Japanese automaker, as the engine its hood.

There was a time, 30 years back, when the Wankel rotary was being hailed as a revolution in the making. Incredibly small and bafflingly simple, it was also surprisingly powerful. No wonder automakers as diverse as General Motors and Germany’s old NSU began laying plans to make the rotary engine a centerpiece of their powertrain operations.

But like so many other over-hyped alternatives to the piston engine, the Wankel couldn’t live up to initial expectations. It proved low on mileage, high on emissions and, as Mazda catastrophically discovered with early rotary-powered cars like the RX-2 sedan, the engine was prone to early, catastrophic failures. It nearly drove the automaker into bankruptcy—one of the reasons why Ford Motor Co. now owns a controlling stake in Mazda.

Japanese engineers eventually resolved the problem, and though the rotary would never again vie for mass market status, it made a phoenix-like comeback, the primary reason why the original RX-7 developed a cult-like following. Spinning at speeds that would strain a Formula One engine, the Wankel turned out gobs of power that street racers craved, and proved its mettle on the professional circuit by capturing the checkered flag at Le Mans in 1991.

Unfortunately, Mazda again made some fundamental mistakes, including the belief that the RX-7 could steadily move up-market. There’s no question the last-generation RX-7 was a fine piece of engineering--fast, stylish and sophisticated. But it was just too expensive and complex, and fell flat on its face, forcing Mazda to pull it from the market in 1995.

Cult of speed

All this as a long prelude to the centerpiece of this story: the return of the rotary, and the RX sports car. An all-new version of the engine, dubbed “Renesis,” provides the heart and soul of the new RX-8. A modest though justifiable change in nomenclature hints at some significant differences in the sport car’s fundamental design. And if Mazda planners are right, these changes may generate significantly higher demand, especially from diehard fans who otherwise could not justify the functional compromises of a 2-seater or 2+2.

Prototypes of the RX-8 have been making the rounds of the global auto show circuit for several years now, so the basic shape is going to come as no surprise. It’s actually a good bit more refined than the early show cars, a sleek reinterpretation of the classic RX theme.

Though it weighs in at around 2900 pounds—a bit less than the last-generation RX-7, the new car is slightly taller and wider, its wheelbase stretched 275 millimeters, to 2700 mm. The wheels are also pushed much further out towards the corners, while the powertrain has been moved 140 mm rearward, and lowered 40 mm. That only gives the new RX-8 a 50/50 weight balance, but a much lower center of gravity, despite the added headroom.

The added dimensions serve a precise purpose, turning the car into a functional four-seater. But that wasn’t enough for Mazda designers. They wanted this car to function more like a sedan than coupe. Leaving aside the Renesis rotary for the moment, the centerpiece of the car’s design is what Mazda has dubbed the “Freestyle Door System.”

That’s certainly more appealing a term than “suicide doors,” especially with Mazda promoting the idea of finally being able to provide the usable space of a family sedan without sacrificing the performance of a sports car. Designed to operate only after the front doors are opened, these slightly downsized access hatches are an integral part of the overall body structure. That’s critical because there are no center, or “B,” pillars in the RX-8, which would normally help to absorb and distribute the forces from a side impact.

Mazda compensates by creating a “virtual pillar in the rear door,” explains safety engineer Hikoaki Takeshita. Each door has side impact beams that effectively latch onto this virtual pillar when the vehicle is closed up. A reinforcing steel pipe connects to the body through strengthened door latches, and catcher pins at the bottom of the door maintain structural integrity and positioning. Mazda officials insist the design is so effective, it doubles the rigidity of the RX-7. The automaker expects the RX-8 to achieve top government crash ratings in Europe, Japan and the U.S.

The RX-8 has significantly more rear seat and leg room than a traditional 2+2. That’s critical, according to Product Development Director Joseph Bakaj, for the new Mazda aims to attract the type of buyers who’d love to own a sports car but until now couldn’t, perhaps because they had a family and needed more usable space.

Riding high

The recently-introduced Mazda6 has been generating quite a buzz, particularly for the refined quality of its interior. The RX-8 takes that several steps beyond. The exterior theme reaches into the passenger compartment, starting with a center “power bulge” that sweeps through the cabin in the form of a functional center console that extends into the back seat. It features several useful storage compartments, as well as cupholders. Indeed, Mazda put a premium on functionality. There’s a spot for a tissue box, another for your sunglasses. And the center of the rear seat provides a trunk pass-through.

And that trunk, by the way, is big enough for two golf bags. But at least in the Japanese version, there’ll be no standard spare tire. At the moment, Mazda is debating whether one will be provided in the U.S.

There’s enough room for a six-footer, though it would prove a bit cramped for a long journey, especially with the undersized back windows—which do not roll down. We’d also like to see Mazda make the front seats slide forward, as they do in most coupes, for even easier access to the rear.

The RX-8 we spent most of our time with at the Mazda test track outside Hiroshima was painted an appropriate “Velocity Red” mica. The interior featured what might be called a saddle shoe mix of black and burgundy, a handsome and elegant blend.

While automakers, in general, have been getting better at coloring and graining plastics, Mazda goes one better with the tasteful use of lacquered, or piano black, accents. The most obvious touch is the audio system, designed in the shape of a CD. It sounds good, and it looks as nice as anything from Bang & Olufson.

The gauges are large and easy to read, though some might take fault with the decision to go with a digital speedometer display. Everything else is analog.

Renesis genesis

But let’s face it, the RX-8 is all about rotary power. And the Renesis is an intriguing update of the Wankel design.

Early problems with the rotary seals have been resolved. But in developing the RX-8, Mazda faced a number of other challenges. For one thing, it had to drive down cost, one of the reasons it chose not to turbocharge the new engine.

Emissions and fuel economy were even more challenging. A major issue was the fundamental design of the valveless rotary, since for a brief interval, the rotor would leave open both the intake and exhaust ports. With the new, 2-rotor Renesis, the three exhaust ports have been moved to the side rotor housings, so they can be completely closed when the intake port is opened. That eliminates unintentional exhausting of unburnt hydrocarbons.

And earlier rotary designs tended to produce inefficient burns because they operated at lower temperatures. The Renesis has been designed to capture unburnt hydrocarbons and carry them over to the next cycle. The carmaker claims the new engine will be able to meet both the tough new Euro-4 and U.S. LEV-II emissions standards.

Mileage, meanwhile, is expected to come in at 18-19 mpg in the U.S. city cycle, and 23 to 24 mpg on the highway.

For potential customers, what is likely to matter most is performance, and the top-line version of the normally-aspirated Renesis (the only version coming to the U.S.) produces 250 horsepower, the same as the turbocharged rotary in the last RX-7. On paper, that isn’t all that much these days, not when you consider Honda is pumping 240 hp out of the new Accord V-6. But the lighter engine, mated to a short-throw six-speed manual, gets the car going in a hurry. The one drawback is that power tends to come on at fairly high rpm, so drivers will want to keep the engine revving above 4000 rpm if they want maximum performance. Renesis’s redline is a full 10,000 rpm, so the car flies when it gets going, but it’s no rocket off the line.

Our long trip to Japan brought all too brief a run behind the wheel. We’ll have to wait until early next year to put the RX-8 through a more thorough road test. But the Mazda test track did offer a variety of surfaces, plenty of turns and some reasonable elevation changes, enough to get a feel for both engine, body and suspension.

The virtual B-pillar design clearly works. This car shows absolutely no body flex. The suspension keeps body roll to an absolute minimum, yet it is reasonably good at filtering out road harshness. The steering literally snaps the car through tight turns.

The new RX-8 will hit the streets in Japan before year’s end, but won’t make export markets until sometime in early 2003 as a 2004 model. By then there could be a few more changes, but the car we experienced doesn’t need much work. We’d like to see a little more low-end torque—which Mazda officials admit they’re also studying ways to deliver. But the new RX-8 has succeeded admirably in its mandate of blending both sports car performance with the functionality of a sedan. It’s a sleek and sexy package with a unique powertrain that’s going to continue to appeal to a rotary cult. We expect the RX-8 to be welcomed heartily when it finally hits the streets.

2004 Mazda RX-8

Base price: $25,000 (est.)

Engine: RENESIS 1.3-liter rotary, 250 hp/159 lb-ft

Drivetrain: Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive

Length x width x height (mm): 4435 x 1770 x 1340

Wheelbase: 2700 mm

Curb weight: 2900 lb (est.)

EPA City/Hwy: 18/23 mpg (est.)

Safety equipment: Four-wheel anti-lock brake system, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Dynamic Stability Control. Dual-stage deployment SRS airbag on the driver's side and standard SRS airbag system on the passenger's side, intrusion-minimizing brake pedal, tire pressure monitor

Major standard equipment: AM/FM/CD/cassette, power windows/doors locks, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels

Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

[ login or register to post comments ]

Autoweek's Nov 25th Aritcle
No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
The Playing's the Thing: You can't mistake Mazda's RX-8 for what it isn't

Mazda is trying hard to spin its new rotary engine-powered RX-8 story, and we’ll have none of it. Neither should you: RX-8 is a sports car as Godzilla is a house pet.

Now that you know what RX-8 isn’t, here is what RX-8 is: a well-balanced, high-revving, nimble, four-door, sharp-nosed, four-seat sports grand touring vehicle that will make you smile from behind its wheel.

Though that’s a mouthful description without the same monosyllabic ring as “sports car,” RX-8 might yet be the shape of things to come, and therein lies the rub. The RX-8 does not qualify in the traditional definition of what makes a sports car, but that’s okay. Mazda is not a traditional car company; it almost entirely creates cars and trucks that jump-start enthusiast blood. It aims to be in the fray of competition, whether on the grid at Le Mans— indeed, the winner’s circle—or as the grid with its Formula Mazda-powered cars at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.

2004 MAZDA RX-8
# ON SALE: June 2003
# BASE PRICE: $30,000 (est.)
# POWERTRAIN: 1.3-liter, 247-hp, 159-lb-ft two-rotor engine; rwd, six-speed manual
# CURB WEIGHT: 3000 pounds (est.)
# 0 TO 60 MPH: 6.0 seconds (est.)

While RX-8 isn’t a sports car, per se, it could be the right car at the right time for a population—growing in age and around the waist—that remembers fondly the company’s seminal RX-7. But we’ll get to more on that in a bit.

To the first official drive impression you will read: Automotive scribes gathered at Mazda’s 3.4-kilometer Miyoshi Proving Grounds. Limited to a total of six laps at speed, after three laps we swapped from right- to left-hand-drive models. In this controlled environment it can be said without equivocation that RX-8 is a delight to drive, and easy to drive fast—quickly. As well it should behave since this is where for three-plus years RX-8 has been driven, tested and developed. For those who’ve piloted an RX-7, when you get into the RX-8 nostalgia washes over you with the turn of its key, a blip of the throttle and the sound of its rotary hum. RX-8 is every bit a Mazda and it conjures up images of the company’s past sports cars—except, of course, for its four doors and its full four-place seating capacity. There is just no getting away from it.

But you don’t notice these things from behind the RX-8’s wheel. Here you concentrate on the road, and you don’t pick up peripherally the added doors or seating space. From here you get a sense of the RX-8’s behavior, its demeanor—even in such a short drive.

You’ll note the steering is not overboosted, but you feel its direct-shaft (the motor shaft is the steering column) electric power assist, and it is welcome; a gentle tip into a corner and the wheel doesn’t kick feedback through your outstretched arms.

The cockpit works well as the instruments, in a cluster of three large gauges, perch above the steering column in plain sight. This gauge placement makes hand timing standstill to 60 easy—slightly less than six seconds, which puts the car in competitive company.

You notice the throttle response immediately. Though this 247-horsepower rotary (at 8500 rpm) is the more potent of two engines headed to the United States, it doesn’t boast high torque with just 159 lb-ft at 5500. A less potent 210-hp model that peaks at 7200 revs only comes with a paddle-shift-actuated automatic transmission and it puts out 164 lb-ft at 5000.

We didn’t get a chance to try the automatic so we’ll reserve judgement on both the engine and its delivery until later. But we did work the manual: Keep it in second gear and it wails. Grab third and it pulls true enough so as not to disappoint either driver or passenger; that lovely aural payoff has been so long in coming that to hear the rotary spin again is a delight. Go ahead and try it, try to induce oversteer in one of two ways: Either crank its leather-wrapped wheel, drop it to second, bury your foot and enjoy the wheel play. Or—and this happened in an uphill, positive-camber left-hander—lift your foot out of some strong-rev fun too quickly and prepare to keep the nose in a straight line. Oversteer happens, and it is good. Still, RX-8 isn’t at all ill-behaved, and Mazda’s engineers have balanced it to understeer to neutral in its everyday canter, though we must wait until early next year for an everyday drive as RX-8 is slated for market in June 2003.

Even the suspension points to it as a sports car. Up front, double wishbones with a long arm, and a multilink suspension at the rear connect to the axle housing with six rubber bushings to minimize road noise. Large-piston, high-pressure gas tube shocks and springs add to the mix. For the sport suspension model, add 225/45R-18-inch tires all around with large ventilated discs, otherwise the standard wheel-and-tire package is a 225/55R-16.

Credit the engineers for its balance. The REnsis (Rotary+Engine+Genesis=REnsis) rotary engine fits snugly 5.5 inches behind the centerline of the front axle. This packaging benefits the RX-8 in a multitude of ways. First with its design, as a long, low nose adds to its style. Second is safety; front bumper-to-engine area allows for a greater deformable structure up front in the event of a head-on impact.

The car that goes ‘hummm’ might make others go ‘hmm’: Is Mazda’s RX-8 a sports car?

Third is a 50:50 weight distribution on its long—106.3-inch—wheelbase. The RX-8 also has a low gravity center that allows for a decrease in yaw moment inertia by 5 percent over the RX-7... a car Mazda refuses to use to compare to RX-8. Regardless, think of this car hunkered down and able to move on a moment’s notice.

The new rotary is a Dagwood sandwich of cast iron and aluminum, with cast- iron pieces as the bread and alloy as the meat. Had Mazda tried to make the whole motor from aluminum it would have found the metal less able to dissipate heat and maintain shape. Still, the motor is a bantamweight, tipping scales at little more than 270 pounds. Mazda says it has no plan to bolt a turbocharger to it—unlike its predecessor—but never say never to a company that likes enthusiasts, and that enthusiasts like.

For comparison, this new rotary is 70 percent as big as an I4 engine, but still delivers power in spades. What was once its downfall—clean burning and fuel economy—is now a bright spot. Relocating the exhaust ports to the side of the rotor itself allows for a 30 percent increase in the ports’ size, which in turn makes a freer and cleaner-breathing engine, increased fuel economy and more power. Though the numbers aren’t in from the EPA, Mazda officials expect a 20 percent increase in fuel economy from the former rotary-powered car, the RX-7, which equates to 21 mpg city, 23 highway.

It may be just one man’s opinion, but the exterior doesn’t wow. Yes, there is an edge to it. Yes, there are many design cues packed onto its skin. And there is no mistaking this for anything other than a car from Japan. But unlike the new Nissan 350Z, itself a reincarnation halo vehicle, the RX-8 visually misses. Maybe it’s just that there is so much going on.

“The ‘surface excitement’ is maximized on this car,” says Morray Callum, a Scot who has been in the Ford system long enough that he designed the next-generation F-150 truck and who, for a year now, has called Hiroshima his station. “This car has great proportion. People try to disguise proportions when it’s not there, but this has the right balance.

“This is the right car for Mazda at this time. It is not an RX-7 replacement. We aren’t targeting the RX-7 buyer, who is a younger male.” But will it induce lust? “I think for some of the customers, it will,” Callum says. “For a lot of people RX-8 will induce lust. And it will be a car that people will be able to get, and get in to.”

A great deal of engineering energy went into opening the RX-8 rear seat area to ease passenger access. Not only did the car require sufficient seat space, but it mandated comfortable entry and exit. Cabin reinforcements and a rigid underbody frame make up the RX-8’s centerpiece.

The pillarless doors—would it be appropriate to call these hara-kiri doors?—have a virtual center barrier, thanks to a steel pipe that runs north-south inside each rear door. The pipe connects to the body via the rear door latch and a catch-pin system that aligns doors with the RX-8’s underbody—quite similar to what Honda has done with its Element SUV. Inside the front doors, impact beams, running parallel with the road surface, help minimize interior intrusion and get this pillarless design past the side-impact safety standards.

Its sleek shape—and three-gauge instrument cluster, leather-wrapped wheel and quick-revving rotary engine—makes a case for a sports car; its four doors and four seats say otherwise.

Getting in and out is easy. The front doors open with a hinge angle of 70 degrees while the rear doors open at 85 degrees; the combination of front and rear doors agape looks for all the world as if the car could swallow you whole. The front seatbelts attach to the seats (more convenient than the Element’s door-mounted belts). And if you think the rear seats are vestigial offerings, a 95th-percentile male can fit comfortably in the back seat, with another in the front passenger seat. Don’t try that combination as driver and rear seat passenger for too long, but it can be done. Suffice it to say that on a date night, four adults could get into an RX-8 without needing chiropractic care later.

Crossmembers in the floor and roof help to increase the shell’s rigidity, as does a high-mounted center transmission tunnel, ŕ la Honda’s S2000, though it’s not nearly as pronounced. For the safety-minded, six airbags fit throughout the car, including front airbags and side-curtain airbags to prevent injury to passengers, though no airbags exist for rear passengers.

The last RX-7 sold in America erred on the side of being too compact, with a cabin too constraining for the average American male, let alone a 95th-percentile one. The RX-8 overcompensates in the other extreme... if Mazda ever got around to sucking the back seat out and dropping the extra doors—a kind of reverse version of the process that gave us the earlier RX-7 2+2 model—they might just have something here.

At least, they’d have a sports car here. Keeping the rotary alive is more to the point, though, and that means putting this power in a car with broad appeal. But is keeping the rotary alive just for one car, or does it mean we might see it in something else? While Mazda executives are mum about the reincarnation of RX-7— a legitimate, two-seat, two-door rotary-powered sports car—they aren’t wholly denying it, either.

That said, here’s another question Mazda may have answered in another roundabout way: Has the evolution of the sports car gotten like the evolution of the sports car buyer? RX-8 has many of the same styling cues of its progenitor, but has grown up and grown out. There is room inside for wide-shouldered and wide-bottomed boomers. The rotary’s hum soothes with a familiar, dulcet whistle as you step on it; back out of it and you get a slight exhaust backfire—an unintended flatulence—and giggle with the memory if not the sound itself.

Mazda officials are clear when they insist this is not the RX-7 replacement. Would it compete and compare with sports sedans from Europe? Is that a fair comparison?

Perhaps not. Perhaps this new RX-8 is a car that begins to redefine the sports car genre, the way minivans redefined station wagons, and the way the new crossovers redefine minivans and sport/utes.

Whatever you might call it, RX-8 is not a traditional sports car. That, however, does not prevent it from being full of sports car excitement.
[ login or register to post comments ]

subject:'s article
No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
Saved here incase the site goes down

The Concept: A four-door sports car for four adults
The Aim: To bring about a revolution in sports car driving pleasure

Mazda is the only car company in the world to achieve success in the volume production of rotary engine cars, the result of our appetite for new challenges. Since the “Marathon de la Route” endurance race in 1968, Mazda has been involved in motor sports, racing the RX-7, MX-5 and other models that have embodied the Mazda spirit and made their mark in automobile history.

Innovative Mazda DNA, cultivated throughout our history, continues to create new values that delight and move our customers. Our product philosophy gives form to Mazda’s DNA, and is based on three key attributes: ‘Distinctive design,’ ‘Exceptional functionality’ and ‘Responsive handling and performance.’

The RX-8 – on sale in Australia in July 2003 priced below $70,000 on the road – and the new Mazda6 and Mazda2, are new-generation models that fully embody Mazda’s Stylish, Insightful and Spirited brand DNA.

The basic concept behind the RX-8 is a genuine sports car in a totally new four-door, four-seater format that fully delivers sports car values and driving pleasure. In concrete terms, the car offers customers the following values:

* Unique and unmistakable sports car styling that answers owners’ needs for self-expression, and sports car performance that assures unprecedented driving pleasure.

* Flexible practicality that greatly exceeds other sports cars in terms of habitability for four adults, cost-performance and utility.

In other words, the Mazda RX-8 offers the originality and driving pleasure only a true sports car can give. Yet at the same time it is a sports car that can be enjoyed by families or four adults. To realise these unprecedented aims, Mazda pursued the following six key factors:

- Sports car values to assure driving pleasure
- Innovative sports car styling
- Practicality and functionality to accommodate four occupants
- Revolutionary dynamic performance that guarantees both driving quality brand comfort
- Next-generation craftsmanship dedicated to customer delight.
- Utmost concern for safety and the environment

By offering these key values, the RX-8 breaks the mould of conventional sports cars with its functionality and habitability for four adults, opening up a new global market.

Driving Dynamics

Unprecedented sports car driving pleasure

The Mazda RX-8 delivers dynamic performance that directly communicates the feel of a genuine sports car. In real terms, this means sharp response, excellent controllability and extended performance limits.

To achieve the sophisticated dynamics our target drivers demand, we developed a dedicated platform and a next-generation rotary engine, RENESIS, specifically for the RX-8.

The new rotary engine is mounted lower and further to the rear, in what Mazda calls an advanced front midship layout.

The newly developed, highly rigid body and refined suspension enable sharp and linear vehicle response to steering inputs, delivering the handling of a genuine sports car as well as high-grade ride comfort.

While exhibiting unusually high power output for a naturally aspirated engine, RENESIS outstrips comparable reciprocating engines in terms of acceleration, the feeling of power in reserve and quick response.

RX-8's dynamics are testimony to the benefits of Mazda's sports car DNA, giving greater opportunity for drivers to experience the enjoyment of handling a genuine sports car.

RENESIS: Mazda’s Next-Generation Rotary Engine

The RENESIS engine powering the RX-8 has its origins in the MSP-RE that was unveiled at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show as the power unit for the RX-01 concept sports car. The name RENESIS was given to the engine as exhibited in the 1999 iteration of the RX-EVOLV. Thereafter, RENESIS, which stands for “the RE (rotary engine)’s GENESIS,” was carefully prepared for series production as the powerplant for the RX-8.

RENESIS employs side intake and side exhaust ports, and has approximately 30 per cent more intake area than the previous Mazda rotary, realising greatly reduced intake flow resistance.

The engine’s sequential dynamic intake system and electronic throttle control system deliver high power unparalleled in a naturally aspirated unit, with fuel efficiency and emissions also substantially improved over the previous engine. Fuel efficiency has been improved by about 20 per cent in city driving compared with the RX-7.

RENESIS is available in two variations: the High Power specification, which in Australia will mate to a six-speed manual transmission and the Standard Power unit, which will be available with automatic transmission.

Engine Performance

High Power Unit
Standard Power Unit
Max. output
(Provisional figure)
Max. torque
(Provisional figure)
Rev limit

Advanced Front Midship Layout

The naturally aspirated RENESIS engine, excluding auxiliary equipment, is approximately the same height as the car’s transmission. Furthermore, the intake unit could be mounted away from the power unit towards the front of the vehicle. In addition, the height of the oil pan is reduced to about half of that of a conventional design, and this allows the RX-8's engine to be mounted 60mm further aft with the dashboard being located 80mm forward, while the engine is placed 40 mm lower than the RX-7's.

Use of the advanced front midship layout, location of the plastic fuel tank between the rear wheels and other measures assure an ideal 50/50 fore-aft weight split as well as a 5 per cent lower yaw inertia moment than the RX-7. Locating the engine lower yields a lower vehicle centre of gravity, which, together with the wide track specification, has a cumulative effect in assuring high roll stiffness.

The RX-8's exceptional cornering and stability realise a class of handling that keeps the car perfectly attuned to the driver's intentions. And the advanced front midship powertrain layout, low centre of gravity and 2700mm wheelbase also bolster the RX-8's straight-line stability.

Highly Rigid Body Structure And An All-New Chassis

To realise the exceptional driving performance of a sports car, engineers devised a very rigid underbody frame and cabin reinforcements to give the RX-8 a body that, in terms of rigidity and low weight, surpasses those of comparable sport sedans of the same wheelbase.

The upper part of the transmission tunnel is a rigid closed section high-mount backbone frame running horizontally from the front of the vehicle to the rear, and joined to the main frame front and back.

The underbody makes maximum use of high tensile strength steel sheet in critical locations to assure sufficient rigidity. The optimised layout and large sectional area ensure a highly rigid platform, and the advanced front midship powertrain configuration enables installation of cross members connecting the frame in the engine compartment, adding rigid lateral support to the front suspension. In addition, three cross members are fitted across the lower open end of the transmission.

The RX-8 also uses a high strength construction for the formed side paneling of the door openings. A ring shaped tailored blank structure, formed from 5 steel sheets of optimal thickness welded together, provide local reinforcement where needed for the side panel inner. The panel inner is also a tailored blank, formed from 3 steel sheets, to provide added stiffness for the door opening and cabin.

Mazda designed the RX-8’s chassis to deliver unprecedented sports car driving pleasure through exceptional handling and control, while thoroughly suppressing road noise and vibration for a comfortable ride.

The low hood design enabled by the advanced front midship powertrain layout of the RX-8 allows the use of Mazda’s newly developed in-wheel type double wishbone front suspension. Upper and lower arms are mounted on a highly rigid sub-frame, and the long arms ensure linear alignment changes with jounce and rebound of the front wheels. To obtain linear control of compliance behaviour in response to input of external forces, upper and lower arm bushing has been given a new zero stopper clearance structure.

Additionally, the front suspension employs mono-tube gas-filled dampers with large diameter pistons, and the damper lever ratio (*) has been raised to improve damping efficiency. These measures assure sufficient damping force even with slight piston strokes and realise close compliance with the road surface over a wide range of surface conditions.
(*) Damper Lever Ratio: Ratio of damper stroke against wheel jounce/rebound.

The RX-8 employs a new multi-link (5 links per side) rear suspension system. Links have extended length and are optimally arranged to maintain correct geometry and compliance to keep tyres in stable contact with the road at all times, and achieve superior handling stability, ride comfort and low road noise.

The rear suspension was designed with a damper lever ratio of about 1.0 to assure compliance on all kinds of road surfaces.

Coil springs are located below the floor, and spring lateral force against the damper rod has been lowered to minimise friction. As with the front suspension, gas-filled mono-tube shocks with a large diameter piston are used for the rear suspension. The rear suspension also uses a newly developed six-point rubber mount system for the sub-frame. This arrangement assures rigid support for the links as well as a more comfortable ride with low road noise.

Additionally, the RX-8 is equipped with newly developed rack drive electric power steering that transmits just the right amount of road information back to the driver. The sports suspension version, fitted with large 18-inch tyres and aluminum alloy wheels, incorporates large-diameter ventilated front disc brakes and provides ample stopping power for sports driving.


Sports car styling innovation: The product of Mazda DNA

With the design for the RX-8, Mazda set out to create a completely new sports car form, while maintaining the sporty DNA of the RX-7 and MX-5. By this we mean low weight, a pleasing ride with exceptional grip and handling, and dynamic styling that immediately conveys these attributes. The RX-8, with its next-generation sports car dynamism as its basic design concept, takes Mazda DNA to a new stage in its evolution.

To give form to the design concept, Mazda aimed at the following new values:

- Styling packed with vitality and tension
- Space to comfortably accommodate four adults that belies the car’s compact-looking exterior
- A form that expresses the feel of a genuine sports car, as well as quality realised by the use of choice, authentic materials
- The emotional impact unique to the rotary-engined sports car

Original and innovative ideas, combined with the long, distinguished history of Mazda DNA gave rise to the RX-8’s unique sports car styling.

Exterior Design

The overriding design theme for the exterior was “Athletic Tension”. By “Athletic Tension” Mazda’s designers mean a look that conveys a feeling of expectation or pent-up energy ready to be released, much like an athlete in peak condition waiting for the starter’s gun. To give concrete form to the concept, the design team focused on weight reduction, aerodynamics and other sports car essentials, while shaping the car to evoke three main attributes: namely dynamic form, stability and tension.

Dynamic Form is evident in a powerful continuity of surfaces beginning at the front air intake, and running along the body sides to the trunk lid. The desired look is not expressed in two-dimensional character lines, but in three-dimensional relief, conveying dynamic power from whichever angle the car is viewed.

Stability is the very basis of a good sports car design. RX-8’s cabin, while offering comfortable space for four adults, achieves a compact look by virtue of its freestyle door arrangement. This compact-looking cabin combines with the pronounced overfenders to shift visual mass downwards, creating low-slung proportions that communicate a feeling of great stability.

Tension is expressed by trimming excess body mass to produce an extremely taut form. Imbued with the sleek elegance that suggests a powerful athlete, RX-8 sets a new benchmark in sports car styling.

Design elements such as the rotor shaped power bulge and rotor motif rear fog lamp (European version only) create a vivid impression of rotary engine sports performance. Other features like the unique headlamp design and the combination lamps with mechanical overtones, and aluminium wheels, demonstrate a close attention to the details that convey an emotional message to sports car enthusiasts.

Interior Design

The basic design theme was for a “Comfortably Snug” interior that expresses the very latest in refined sports car taste. The spacious cabin revealed from the opened doors conveys a look of vitality and comfort, while maintaining the dynamic emotional impact of the car’s exterior.

The strong impression of vitality given by the interior is largely due to the continuity of form, starting from the bonnet’s power bulge, flowing through the centre panel of the dashboard and centre console to the rear parcel shelf.

Additionally, the aluminium side bar features of the centre console impart an impression of comfort that simultaneously has a somewhat mechanical aspect. The instrument panel is split into three sections: left, centre and right. The three zones are invested with new textures, color accents and soft materials chosen according to purpose, expressing a modern, comfortable ambience and refined quality.

Additionally, the three discrete and compact meter clusters, manual shift knob with rotor motif, front seat bezel, sun visors of lightweight-look mesh material and other details express the special qualities of Mazda’s latest rotary-engined sports car.


Unique sports car packaging with space for four adults

The RX-8 offers a genuine sports car form allied with comfortable accommodation for four adults and effortless vehicle entry and exit, thanks to the compact RENESIS next-generation rotary engine and highly efficient packaging featuring a centre-opening freestyle door system. For a sports car, the trunk has ample space. The cabin also provides many readily accessible storage spaces.

This innovative packaging allows the RX-8 to offer values unprecedented in a sports car: The excitement of spirited driving on the one hand, and the pleasure of taking trips with family or friends on the other.

Roomy Front And Rear Seating On A Level With A Sports Sedan

In addition to the space benefits of the exceptionally compact RENESIS engine, Mazda’s designers employed numerous techniques to provide a comfortable interior for four adults. Firstly, to assure sufficient headroom for front and rear passengers they lowered the cabin floor by optimally locating the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter and related components, creating a lower seating position for cabin occupants. To ensure adequate knee clearance for passengers in the rear, designers concentrated on the front seat backs, reducing cushion thickness and sculpting a form that provides both comfortable seating and a firm hold. Additionally, the front seat slide rails are optimally positioned for fore/aft adjustments, allowing sufficient legroom for rear passengers.

Centre-Opening Freestyle Door System

The RX-8’s body shell has no centre pillars, and features a freestyle door system with front and rear doors opening from the centre, allowing effortless vehicle entry and exit. Front doors are fully open at a hinge angle of about 70degrees, and rear doors at about 85 degrees. The absence of centre pillars allows a surprisingly large door opening area when the front and rear doors are fully open, making entry and exit supremely easy.

Additionally, Mazda designers employed the latest computer techniques along with crash test data to assure safety in the event of a side-on collision.

Boot Sized For Practical Use

The deep boot gives plenty of space for everyday needs, as well as luggage space for a trip with two couples or a family of four on board.

The cabin interior is also provided with cup-holders in the console boxes, large door pockets and other convenient storage receptacles. Additionally, the freestyle door arrangement facilitates loading/unloading of cargo to and from the rear seats.


Mazda’s unique craftsmanship evolves to a new level

Mazda sets itself the highest standards of craftsmanship, to build cars that reflect the look, feel and control that discerning customers expect. In addition to achieving precision fit, functional elegance and other attributes of quality finish, with the RX-8 we ventured into a new area we call “Customer Delight”. Our aim is to craft cars that offer exceptional enjoyment whenever users take to the road.

With the RX-8, our craftsmanship-based approach has resulted in an entirely new kind of sports car with a refined build quality that brings unprecedented delight to its owners.

Basic Build Quality

To give the RX-8’s exterior a higher quality finish than is normally expected of a sports car, Mazda made sure the body panels and other exterior parts fitted precisely with minimal gaps between them. To do this, we carefully examined over 300 items, focusing on structural drawings to devise ways of tightening the clearances between parts and so realise high-precision fit and finish.

With the RX-8’s interior we concentrated on surface feel, investing areas of the cabin with soft-textured materials. At the same time we aimed to achieve a unified feel for material color, grain and other attributes, paying close attention to each and every detail.

Mazda designers also focused on the appearance of the engine compartment, creating a cover befitting the outstanding performance of the new RENESIS rotary engine, systematically conforming the cover to the height and shape of the engine parts it conceals.

Functional Elegance

In developing the seats, Mazda used advanced ergonomic research techniques to analyze the causes of fatigue and then build in optimal support. The result is a seat shape that is both comfortable and perfectly suited to sporty driving.

Control and visibility during driving are also important aspects of craftsmanship. To achieve the ideal layout of the instrument panel’s central section we made extensive use of a driving simulator, resulting in locating the audio and climate control displays towards the top of the centre panel so they are easily visible to the driver without causing distraction. Switches are located lower down, putting them close to hand for easy operation. Additionally, for cars with automatic transmission, the Activematic floor shift gate employs a new shift pattern delivering short throws suitable for sports driving.

The shift knob for MT models features a rotor motif design, and achieves supremely easy operation.

In addition, the steering wheel, shift lever and pedals are given a uniform operating feel, delivering optimal operating load and direct feel of operation.

Customer Delight

With the RX-8, Mazda entered a new field of craftsmanship, aiming to offer customers increased driving pleasure and satisfaction. Activematic models are equipped with paddle-type shift levers on the steering wheel for easy finger and thumb operation.

Indirect blue illumination is part of the innovative lighting logic for the meter cluster. And other features, such as sun visors with a punched metal motif, embody our unique design ideas that cover a wide array of interior details.

Additionally, the High Power specification RX-8 has aluminum pedals, while the steering wheel paddle shifters and front door inner handles have a unique composition with the look of real metal but the same temperature characteristics as leather, so they can be comfortably touched even when the cabin heats up in hot, sunny weather.

Safety and the environment

Safety in support of pleasurable driving, safety that defies conventional thinking on centre pillarless design

The RX-8 incorporates a large number of innovative active and passive safety technologies. These were developed to support the dynamic performance typical of a Mazda sports car, to bring fun and excitement to an increasing number of drivers.

Active safety mainly concerns the brakes and their ability to provide the stopping power required for real sports car driving. On the passive safety front, Mazda developed a body shell that delivers world-class collision safety performance, in spite of its centre pillarless construction. In addition, to address environmental concerns, the RX-8 delivers low exhaust emissions and high fuel economy. The car’s environmental impact is also reduced owing to positive measures taken by Mazda to advance recycling and other ecology-conscious practices.

Active Safety Worthy Of A Genuine Sports car

With the sports suspension type RX-8, active safety measures include large-diameter 17-inch disc brakes at the front, and a large diameter 10-inch single booster: combined, they realise some of the shortest braking distances in the sports car class.

Also included as standard on all models are 4W-ABS (4-wheel Anti-lock Brake System) and EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) as well as DSC (Dynamic Stability Control). These measures allow drivers to experience the excitement of genuine sports driving backed by extremely reliable active safety.

World-Level Passive Safety Realised In A Centre Pillarless Body

With its specially designed, high-rigidity, crashworthy Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System body, RX-8 achieves world-leading safety. This is particularly true of the vehicle’s sides, which, in spite of the absence of center pillars, exhibit safety on a par with a regular four-door sedan.

The RX-8 is equipped with a dual-stage deployment SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) airbag on the driver’s side and standard SRS airbag system on the passenger’s side. In addition, SRS curtain airbags and side airbags are also provided.

To prevent foot and leg injury to the driver during a full-frontal collision, the RX-8 is equipped with an intrusion-minimizing brake pedal, while front seats are equipped with a whiplash restraining mechanism to minimize the chance of neck injury in a rear-end collision. Top tether ISOFIX-compliant child seat anchors are also provided.

To protect pedestrians in case of a car-pedestrian collision, there is a large space separating the hood from the engine, and newly-developed cone-type aluminum construction is used for the hood itself to increase crash energy absorption efficiency.

Concern For The Environment

The next-generation RENESIS engine, with its side intake and exhaust porting and other technical breakthroughs, achieves a vast improvement over previous Mazda rotary engines in terms of fuel economy and exhaust gas emissions. The RX-8 also extensively employs recyclable thermoplastics. Parts made of composites are dismantled and the re-usable plastic recycled into components, contributing to environmental care and conservation of resources.

Major Specifications Of Mazda RX-8

Overall Length
Overall Width
Overall Height (Unladen)
Track Front
Rotary Engine,
2-rotor, water- cooled
Displacement cc
Max. Output (Provisional figure)
Max. Torque (Provisional figure)
Direct drive
Electric Power assisted
Type Front
Double Wishbone
Tyre & Wheel
Tyre Size Sports suspension
Wheel Size
Type Front
Vent disc
Vent disc

Mazda Sports Car DNA

Driving pleasure for all
The force behind Mazda’s place in sports car history

The world’s first petrol-engined car was introduced in 1886, and just a few years later in 1894, the world’s first auto race took place over about 130 kilometres between Paris and Rouen. By that time, the automobile had already established itself as the means of transportation for the age, as people discovered the entirely new feeling of freedom that comes with motoring. The sports car has always been synonymous with unadulterated driving pleasure; its birth and evolution, as well as the popularity of motor sports, seem deeply rooted in human instincts and romanticism. In other words, the pleasure of driving is not inherently the sole preserve of a select few. Instead it is a basic value demanded by the overwhelming majority of car-buyers.

Virtually all of the world’s auto manufacturers have built sports cars of one kind or another. Some lack comfort and functionality, while others are extraordinarily expensive and targeted at an elitist few. Rarely has there been an answer to the demand for a sports car that is also suited to the needs of a broad spectrum of customers.

Mazda’s history of sports car design and manufacture began in 1967 with the Cosmo Sport. The car was powered by a rotary engine in whose development the company invested its faith, and even its life-blood. In the years since, Mazda has continued to refine its concepts and technologies to make the sheer delight of driving a sports car more accessible to the majority of drivers. In 1968, Mazda’s Cosmo Sport made its debut in the gruelling “Marathon de la Route” endurance race at the Nurburgring. The car gained 4th position overall and signalled the beginning of Mazda’s continuing involvement in motor sports.

The RX-7 first appeared in 1978, and matured into the second-generation version in 1985. In 1989, Mazda brought out the MX-5, a lightweight, open-top roadster that married traditional sports car values with the latest technology and succeeded in becoming hugely popular throughout the world. The third-generation RX-7 was unveiled in June 1991, while on the circuit, the four-rotor MAZDA 787B became the first Japanese car to gain overall victory in that year’s Le Mans 24-hour endurance race.

Our determination to offer an increasing number of car buyers the unique pleasure of the sports car is what has consistently fuelled our design and manufacturing over the years. The RX-7 was a thoroughbred sports car and the MX-5 a lightweight roadster, both developed according to the values of their respective categories.

Mazda continues this development tradition with the RX-8. In addition to stunning sports styling and dynamic performance, the RX-8 comfortably accommodates four adults, making it a completely new form of sports car poised to win the hearts of drivers worldwide.

With the RX-8, Mazda is writing a new chapter in sports car history, realising fresh values for the sports car genre in a new four-seater format, to answer the demands of sports car enthusiasts.
[ login or register to post comments ]

No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
The Auto-G site shows the following colors available:

NB: This comment has been modified by an administrative person on Dec 19, 2002 (04:07 pm)
[ login or register to post comments ]

No title supplied
No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
The White will not be available in the US. DAMN!
[ login or register to post comments ]

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.

Find us on Facebook

User login

Atkins Rotary
Automotive, Aviation, and Marine Applications of Rotary Engines
Phone 253.848.7776
Fax 253.848.3284

Google Search

Follow us on Twitter

Forum topics

Top nodes

Who's new

home | events | forum | search | archive
Copyright © 2005 Media Group LLC, a Nevada Corporation