Mazda confirmed what the world had known for more than a year: Its iconic, Wankel-powered RX8 is going to die. “Mazda RX-8 production will end in June 2012 ,” says a Mazda statement. Mazda celebrates the end of an era in style. The Hiroshima company lays on a Mazda RX-8 SPIRIT R special edition that will keep the spirit alive after the RX8 has given up its ghost.
Whither the Wankel?
Wankel’s Drehkolbenmotor (rotary engine) won’t be spinning in its grave. Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi sings an ode on the engine:
“Mazda’s iconic rotary engine recorded its famous victory in the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race 20 years ago. Throughout 2011, we have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of that victory by demonstrating the winning 787B racecar at Le Mans’ Circuit de La Sarthe and various other events around the world. At each one, the screaming rotary engine and the sight of the 787B have enthralled everyone from young children to race fans who witnessed its victory in 1991. These events have been a powerful reminder of the widespread passion for the rotary engine.
Although RX-8 production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirit of Mazda and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development.”
The Mazda RX-8 SPIRIT R is available in Japan both with a stick and with a six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. It comes with specially-made seats, red brake calipers and colored alloy wheels. Mazda’s curtain and front side SRS airbag system, are standard equipment. The manual will cost 3,120,000 yen ($40,688), the auto will cost 3,250,000 yen ($42,383), all including Japanese tax.
Following the launch, the Mazda RX-8 lineup will consist of the SPIRIT R and the Type G (with six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission) model grades only. Once they are gone, the RX8 is gone. The Wankel lives on. Somewhere. Somehow.