Mazda RX-8 Banned In Europe
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.
They can't be selling many anyway - now that cars are taxed on CO2 in Europe the RX8 is just too expensive to buy or run, unless you buy an old one that qualifies for the old tax system.
Assuming this is even true, I wonder if it isn't a cold-start issue. My RX-8 runs pretty clean when hot (like when they do the emissions testing...close to zero across the board) but really smells bad on a cold morning. In any event, a sad day for enthusiasts. Since when has Europe ever been denied a sports car that we can get??? Usually it is us drooling over Ultima GTR's, Focus RS's and hot Peugeots.
Banned? I think you mean, "Mazda Choses to Stop Selling the RX-8 in Europe". Because the Euro 5 standard currently only applies to new car models, i.e. new introductions. Only from January 2011 onwards will it apply to *all* new cars being sold on the market. I guess "banned" sounds sexier though, in the sense that the expression sexes up the article. Now, let me check "The Truth About Politics"-- I heard today's headline is "GW Bush Banned in Europe", because he has other travel plans this year.
At some point, persistence morphs into plain stubbornness, and I think Mazda has hit that point with the rotary engine. I owned, for 5 years and about 65K miles, the first Mazda rotary -- the RX-2 sedan, which I bought in 1974. It was a fun little car and the engine was entertaining . . . with a 4-bbl carburetor whose secondaries kicked in at 4500 rpm, with a little buzzer that went off when you exceeded the 7000 rpm redline. No ECM in this car! Unfortunately, the problems with that engine persist today: high fuel consumption (my RX-2 would get about 20 mpg at 60 mph), a dirty exhaust (which actually worked well in the pre-catalytic days of 1974; the car had a "thermal" reactor that burned up all of the unburned fuel in the exhaust -- a technique that would not have worked with a cleaner exhaust), reliability issues with the seals and low torque. Today's heavier cars make the torque deficiency all that more significant, especially since variable valve timing and turbos give even small displacement piston engines nice, fat torque curves. Give it up, Mazda. You gave it your best shot. . . but it's not been good enough.