Image credits: © Mazda.

MAZDA LAUNCHES FIVE-SPEED RX-8

Mazda South Africa's sports car icon, the inimitable RX-8, has been joined by a companion: a 141 kW / five-speed derivative! Based on the six-speed RX-8, which has won accolades the world over, this newcomer to the Zoom-Zoom family is expected to meet wîth considerable success in the South African market.

According to Rob Crouse, marketing manager for Mazda South Africa, the fivespeed derivative still offers Zoom-Zoom wîth attitude. 'As is the case wîth the sixspeed RX-8, truly beautiful car, which features a futuristic frame and astonishing interior, is built on a radical chassis around a truly revolutionary engine' he explains. 'It has been developed from the ground up to provide functional elegance and exceptional enjoyment - every time you drive it. However, while it retains the exclusivity of the six-speed derivative, the latest model also boasts a
more accessible price tag.' As is the case wîth the six-speed model, this newcomer features the awardwinning
RENESS rotary engine which is extremely compact. One of the many secrets of its success is the fact that this powerplant is mounted low and to the rear of the vehicle, in what Mazda calls an 'advanced front midship layout'. This twin rotar engine employs side intake and exhaust parts, and features approximately 30 percent more intake area than previous rotary engines, realising greatly reduced intake-flow resistance.

The 141 kW at 7000 r/min is slightly reduced from the six-speed's 170 kW at 8200 r/min - but it is certainly no less impressive. In fact, the 141 kW motor actually boasts better torque than the 170 kW unit – the former offers 220 Nm at just 5000 r/min (versus 211 Nm at 5500 r/min in the six-speed RX-8 model).

Thanks to its centrally located fuel tank, this new RX-8 boasts near faultless weight distribution, and a five percent reduction in yaw inertia - all of which produce precise and controlled handling. Naturally, this translates into significantly better cornering capabilities for all those aspiring Mazda drivers who crave performance. Combined wîth the wide tread, long wheelbase and short overhand, this car is an exhilarating drive wîth unmatched stability, whether on sbends roads or long, straight highways.

The five-speed gearbox's carefully chosen gear ratios offer a superior balance between performance and fuel economy. It has a fast short throw for crisp sporty shifting, made all the smoother and lighter by linked triple cone synchronisers for first, second and third gears.

The safety measures of the RX-8 (the world's first four-door, four-seater sports car) impress on both the active and passive fronts. The active safety measures include advanced braking in line wîth the requirements of genuine sports cars.

The RX-8 comes equipped wîth four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Large diameter ventilated disk brakes in the front, and a single 10-inch booster assures a high servo limit. Combined they give the RX-8 class-leading braking distance wîth minimal fade. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) combines the functions of four-wheel ABS and traction control, exercising command over engine power output as well and offering optimal brake control on all four wheels.

The system maintains a stable vehicle attitude when cornering on slippery surfaces or during emergency avoidance manoeuvres. DSC can be completely disabled, giving the driver full control when undertaking advanced driving techniques such as drift manoeuvres on a racing circuit. One of the most outstanding features of the RX-8 is its pillarless centre body, designed to realise a wide door-opening area. Nevertheless, the car achieves
supreme standards of safety through the incorporation of Mazda's tough body structure. The rigid body maintains world standards in frontal and rear-end collisions, as well as achieving the side-impact resistance of a regular four door sedan. (concept carz)

The high-rigidity body utilises crushable zones to absorb crash energy from frontal collisions. The Triple-H cabin construction – an innovative Mazda body feature that fiercely resists deformation during a crash – features three H-shaped beams that reinforce the floor, sides and roof. And, to prevent the wheels from impacting the cabin during a crash, wheel stopper reinforcements have been installed to prevent cabin deformation from rearward movement of the wheels. To suppress cabin deformation during a side on collision Mazda has installed high-strength, vertical steel pipe reinforcements in the rear doors. These insure that the entire body of the vehicle can evenly absorb crash energy, which would normally impact the centre pillar. A door latch mechanism secures these
reinforcements into the body (at the top and bottom ends) and, when locked in position, the pipes act as built-in pillars -exhibiting even greater strength than even the conventional centre pillars would provide. The fuel tank area is protected from intrusion during a rear-end collision by a high-mount backbone frame, cross members and rear side members.

Passive safety measures include the incorporation of airbags and seatbelts. Both the passenger and rear seats have curtain airbags to help minimise the risk of head injuries. The driver's side airbag system deploys in two stages. A sensor judges the severity of the collision and chooses which of the two airbag inflation stages to use, to ensure that the airbag offers the best possible protection to the driver.

The front seatbelts offer a pretensioner mechanism, which automatically absorbs the slack, holding the occupant firmly in place in the event of a collision. There is also a load limit mechanism to help minimise damage to the occupant's chest and thorax. Should the wearer exceed the predetermined seat belt limit, the load limiter releases the seatbelt in a controlled manner. The front seat headrest is designed to reduce whiplash and the hood is structured to better protect a pedestrian in the event of a crash. Mazda RX-8's taut exterior gives perfect expression to the three major design objectives of dynamism, stability and tension. These create a sense of motion even when the car is stationary. The only notable exterior differences between the two models are the wheels – 16-inch, in the case of the five-speed, versus the six-speed model's 18-inch wheels.

One of the truly fabulous features of the RX-8 is its freestyle door system, wîth front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors, which allows for easy access to both the front and back seats, thanks to the absence of a centre pillar. The rear door release handle can only be activated when the front door is open, preventing accidental opening while the car is in motion. Mechanical-look headlamps and dynamic aluminium wheels allow for striking visual appeal.

The compact exterior belies the actual cabin size. In a truly innovative move for a sports car, four adults can ride in complete comfort thanks to the Mazda's ingenious design. Ample headroom is on offer and, by minimising the thickness of the front seats, without compromising on comfort or hold, back seat passengers are assured of generous legroom. The result is four individual seats that are comfortable and perfectly adapted to high performance driving. The instrument panel's robust central section has wing-shaped dashboard sections on either side, giving a sense of protection. The three large round meters combine functionality wîth just the right style for the sports-minded driver. Information is displayed on the top of the central stack to minimise the change in the driver's line of vision. The adjustment knobs are situated low down, within easy reach, while audio and climate control are of the highest standards. ( posted on conceptcarz.com) Únlike the case wîth most other sports cars, the RX-8's boot was designed for practical living, accommodating two suitcases or two golf bags. To allow greater depth, the spare tyre has been removed and replaced wîth an emergency puncture repair kit. The double hinge trunk lid system accommodates hinges and dampers in their own grooves, so as not to impinge on the luggage space. These
design measures yield a shorter overhand, and maintain a trunk volume of about 290 litres (VDA). There is also a centre panel that can fold down into the back seat to allow for boot-through storage of longer items such as skis.
In a nutshell, this feisty performer sports the best of everything. With its awardwinning twin rotar engine, the five-speed Mazda RX-8 is an absolute pleasure to drive, boasting state-of-the-art interior comforts and the safety to really enjoy the ride. Its sporty and spirited physique adds the finishing touch to a unique driving experience.

The Mazda RX-8 has a 3year / 100,000 km's warranty period, 10,000 km's or 12 months service intervals, 5 year / 100,000 km's maintenance plan and a 24 hour / 7 days a week roadside assistance programme as standard - which includes features such as hotel accommodation or free car hire as may be required.

Source - Ford Motor Company
The only coupe with a four-door configuration, the Mazda RX8 was built for driving enthusiasts. Featuring a high-revving 1.3-liter rotary engine that was called the Renesis, the engine was quite impressive. The exhaust ports were located on the side of each of the combustion chambers, instead of on the outer edge of the rotary housing. This engine allows for more power, lower emissions and higher fuel economy.

The engine was able to be mounted further back in the RX-8's chassis because of the engine's compact size, giving the vehicle the coveted 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. At a very svelte 3,000 lb curb weight, the RX8 featured balanced suspension tuning and sharp steering. The Mazda RX-8 was one of the best-handling vehicles on the market, and was among the best sports cars available for less than $30,000.

After nearly a decade of lack, introduced in 2004, the Mazda RX-8 brought back the rotary-powered sports vehicle to the U.S. Mazda also received an image with greater stature and performance than the Miata. Usually Mazda sells its sport coupe with either manual or automatic transmission, though most enthusiasts would agree that the six-speed manual version is the best way to experience the RX-8.

The manual-equipped Mazda RX-8 featured horsepower that crested at 238 at 8,500 rpm with redline hitting at an impressive 9,000. The RX-8 was timed at .6 seconds to 60 mph and 15.1 seconds through the quarter-mile, as tested by Inside Line testers. Automatic RX-8s redlined at 7,500 rpm.

Comfortable enough for a daily commuter, the Mazda RX-8 isn't the most economical choice as the fuel economy tends to hover in the high teens. The interior of the car was quite nice as well. The reverse-hinged rear doors allowed for the loading of cumbersome child seats, while the rear seats are roomy enough to accommodate adults on short trips.

Manual version came with a firmer suspension and 18-inch wheel, while these were optional on automatic models. Through the Shinka Special-Edition package, further suspension upgrades were available, along with luxuries such as leather upholstery and a navigation system.

A descendent of the two-door RX-7 sport coupe that was sold in three generations from 1979 through 1995, the Mazda RX-8 featured an extra set of doors. Unfortunately the RX-7 was taken off the U.S. market due to poor sales and difficulty in reaching emission standards. However, the RX-7 continued to be sold in Japan through 2002. At the time it was deleted, the third generation RX-7 was sold for $32,500 in 1995, a much more expensive vehicle than today's RX-8.

The 2004 RX-8 is almost a return to the original RX-7, while still being a completely different sort of sports car. With a newly redesigned rotary engine, the RX-8 featured reverse-opening doors and room for four adults, making it quite an impressive vehicle. The new RX-8 also featured the newly designed, naturally aspirated 'Renesis' version of the good, old 13B rotary. The rotary engine had no valvetrain, and the location of these parts is crucial to the engine's performance. In the earlier engine, these ports were located on the outer edge of the rotary housing, while in the Genesis they are on the side of the rotary chamber. This location allows engineers to completely close the exhaust port before the intake port opens, and vice versa, unlike the earlier design. Along with a variable intake system that optimizes air flow, the new Genesis also allows them to use 30-percent larger intake ports than before. The redline was now up at an amazing 9,000 rpm.

Even more impressive was that even with access to the rearward accommodations the four-seater still retained a sports car-s balance thanks to 50/50 weight distribution and a supple chassis with double-wishbones up front and a multilink independent system in the rear. The Renesis engine sat back in its chassis much like the 12A did in the original RX-7. Part of the package is the naturally, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and rack and pinion steering. The Mazda RX-8 weighs in at a very impressive 3,029 lbs in manual transmission form.

The RX-8's main source of competition lies in the new Nissan 350Z, basically because Mazda's own people were quoting curb weight comparisons.

Edmunds.com chose the RX-8 as the winner when pitted against the 350Z as it generated 238 horsepower from a measly 1.3 liters. The RX-8 yielded 6.6 seconds in the 0-60 mph track test. The RX-8 glides through bends and turns in a manner that's far less intimidating the Z, which hammers it ways through bends, according to Edmunds.com.

By Jessica Donaldson
 
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