Way back in December, I flew out into LAX to meet up with fellow 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court Justice Jonny Lieberman, so that we could jump into a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and drive it to the Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 race 450 miles to the north. I’d been hearing all about the magical basement full of crazy Japanese-market cars beneath Mazda USA headquarters in Irvine, so I talked Mazda engineer and superstar LeMons racer Dave Coleman into giving me the tour. But how to get from LAX to my destination many miles behind the Orange Curtain? “Coleman!” I barked, “Get me an RX-8 press car, pronto!” So, he did. Now, six months later, here comes your Better Late Than Never Review of a car that, regrettably, is no longer being built. (Read More…)
With the Mazda RX-8 being pulled from the European market for its rotary engine’s inability to pass the new Euro-5 emissions standard, we should have guessed that its days were numbered in the US market as well. Perhaps the fact that the model is one of our favorite enthusiast options available in the US made us hope against hope that it would soldier on a bit longer. No such luck. According to Motor Trend‘s “well placed source at Mazda’s North American Operations,” the RX-8 will be phased out “most likely after the 2011 model year.” And probably not just for the obvious fuel economy or capacity-utilization reasons either: RX-8 sales peaked at 23,690 units in 2004, and have been in steady decline ever since, moving only 2,217 units last year.
Thanks to its rev-happy rotary engine’s inability to pass the Euro-5 emissions standard, the Mazda RX-8 will be pulled from the European market, reports Auto Motor & Sport Sweden [via Google Translate]. A rotary-engined replacement will not arrive before the year 2013, as development of the unique engine is both costly and time-consuming. Like any good car with an environmental problem, the RX-8 is receiving a few tentative test upgrades. An E85 version is being raced at the Targa Tasmania, but likely won’t ever be available for sale. Meanwhile, Mazda’s RX-8 rehabilitation efforts likely come down to making a long-rumored hydrogen rotary engine version production-ready. And with nothing planned before 2013, it’s looking like Europe will have to do without the uniquely rev-happy, hard-handling, performance bargain that is the RX-8 for some time.
Mazda have been working on the RX-8′s successor for sometime, and naturally most thought that it would be called the RX-9. As in one step up from the RX-8. Apparently, that’s not the case. Nitrobahn.com reports that RX-7 name is to be resurrected. Nitrobahn hypothesised that the reason for this is to “evoke memories of the rear-wheel drive Mazda produced in between 1978 & 2002″. The new RX-7 will be a 2 seater and due in 2011. Like the current RX-8, the RX-7 will be a rotary engine, which means it can be adapted to run on Hydrogen in the future. InsideLine report that the new engine will be 1.6 litres in a 2 x 880cc configuration. The extra displacement means that the engine should be capable of up to 350 BHP. However, sources close to Mazda say they are adopting a simpler approach to the engineering of the car, by keeping the power of the engine between 200 to 250 BHP to try and keep the price below $25K. With the RWD Toyobaru, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Kia “Kee,” and Nissan “Silvia” on the horizon, the future market for sporty coupes just keeps getting more and more interesting.