Mazda Celebrates Death Of RX8 With Great Spirits, Wankel Lives!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Zeus01 Zeus01 on Oct 08, 2011

    I've owned six 1st-gen Rx7s: an '81, two '82s, an '84 and a pair of 85s. All were practically bullet-proof mechanically, and oil consumption was about a quart every five tanks of fuel. The bodies tended to rust though, especially around the seams. Back then zero-to-sixty times in the 9-second range were acceptable in a sports car. If Mazda hopes to use the rotary in another one though they'll need to a) get rid of the low-end torque deficiency, b) accomplish this without turbos or forced induction of any kind and c) do this while also creating a rotary with a BSFC closer to that of contemporary piston engines. The only way that I can think of to do this would be with a downsized version of the 20B triple-rotor engine.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Oct 09, 2011

    I alway wondered why they don't do a single or the existing twin rotor Wankel with a gas/electric hybrid set up. That way you address the poor mileage and low torque issues.

  • Daniel J I love my mazda 6. It's getting harder and harder to drive it around where I live as municipalities fail to repair roads. SUVs are just easier to drive with all of the potholes.
  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.