The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Mazda RX-8 Next Big Thing in Sports Cars

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Watch the entire introduction from Detroit Click here
    DETROIT, Jan. 9 Mazda Motor Corporation, renowned for its
pioneering development of unique rotary-engined vehicles, today took a giant
step toward bringing to market a revolutionary high-performance, four-door
sports car with the unveiling of the Mazda RX-8 design engineering model at
the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  The RX-8 is powered by
a 250-horsepower version of the company's legendary rotary engine.

    The new RX-8 is much closer to an actual production sports car than its
predecessor, the Mazda RX-EVOLV concept car that was introduced at the October
1999 Tokyo Motor Show and shown at last year's North American International
Auto Show.

    "With its four-door freestyle door system, four-passenger comfort and
250-horsepower RENESIS rotary engine, Mazda RX-8 is the next big thing in
sports cars," said Mazda president and CEO Mark Fields.  "I wouldn't be
surprised if you see this car -- or something very close -- on some of the
world's most scenic, most fun-to-drive highways in the not-so-distant future."

    Highlights of the car include:
    --  Mazda's powerful, lightweight and compact RENESIS rotary engine
    --  Central mid-ship engine layout and 50:50 front/rear weight
        distribution that dramatically enhance control and handling
    --  Freestyle door system, with front-hinged and rear-hinged doors and no
        center pillar, that makes getting into and out of the rear seats
        faster and easier
    --  Comfortable seating for four adults
    --  A unique interior design that mixes the traditional with new
        contemporary material that appears to "wrap around" the passengers

    Overall, the RX-8 has a compact-looking body, while providing enough
interior room to seat four adults comfortably.  The use of a compact rotary
engine allows for the low hood, short overhangs, and overall sports car look
while providing interior room on par with a sports sedan.

    An integral part of Mazda's revolutionary engineering heritage is its
40 years of experience with the rotary engine.  To date, Mazda has produced
nearly two million rotary-engine vehicles.  Mazda is the only automobile
manufacturer in the world that offers a pure rotational internal combustion
engine.  In 1991, Mazda became the first -- and thus far only -- Japanese auto
manufacturer to win the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race with its
four-rotor 787B racer.  The RENESIS rotary engine represents the potential
that Mazda believes lies within this unique powerplant.

    "It all starts with the rotary engine," said Phil Martens, managing
director in charge of Product Strategy, Design and Product and Powertrain
Development.  "RENESIS is naturally aspirated, and it is 30% lighter and more
compact than the turbocharged rotary engine (13B-REW) in the current RX-7.
The engine's weight, size, low center of gravity, and positioning in the
vehicle give the car excellent maneuverability and high-end performance.

    "With its side intake and exhaust ports, the RENESIS rotary engine also
enhances fuel economy and reduces emissions," he added.

    The central mid-ship powertrain layout positions the engine behind the
front axle, even closer to the center of the car than with Mazda's typical
front mid-ship rotary engine layout.

    The engine will have power levels up to 280 horsepower at 9,000 RPM,
Martens said, and is expected to meet stringent global emissions standards at

    The RX-8's structure suppresses bending and twisting of the body and
enhances performance by inhibiting vibration and minimizing noise to provide a
supremely quiet driving environment.

    The Mazda RX-8 is new generation four door sports car totally different
from the company's famous RX-7.  To signify the new genre of sports car it
represents, the company named it "RX-8."

    Mazda is known worldwide for its heritage of building innovative
affordable cars like the MX-5 Miata roadster and the first generation RX-7
sports car that provide a feeling of oneness between car and driver.