The RX-8 is a newly-designed sports car being introduced in 2003 by Mazda to supersede the Mazda RX-7. It is a front-engine, rear wheel drive car featuring a naturally aspirated rotary engine. Mazda's RX-8 is based on the 1999 RX-EVOLV concept car, which also featured the four door design, and had a similar appearance.
Mazda RX-8 with both passenger-side doors open.
The car is 170.3 in. long, 52.0 in. tall, and 70.1 in. wide. It has four doors, set up as suicide doors, meaning that the front doors swing forwards, and the rear doors swing backwards. In addition, there is no center pillar between the doors. Mazda refers to this, plus the fact that the front doors pop out before pivoting forward, as the "Freestyle Door System". Rear doors open to a ninety degree angle to provide easier rear access. This arrangement is similar to the Saturn coupe's rear door.
The center-pillarless design is made possible by the inclusion of a high and strong center tunnel down the middle of the car, which should act in the same way as the backbone chassis of some Lotus automobiles. Side impact protection is accounted for with a pillar built into the doors themselves, which may also have something to do with the ridigity of the vehicle.
The RX-8's engine, Mazda's latest rotary, is known as RENESIS. This Wankel Rotary Engine is naturally aspirated but still manages to produce 250 HP @ 8500 RPM, in spite of the fact that it has only 1.3 liters of displacement. The motor is based on a side-port, two rotor design. Having the intake and exhaust ports in the side housing of the motor eliminates the overlap between the opening of the intake and exhaust ports and dramatically decreases restriction, which improves the engine's efficiency. In addition, the intake ports are 30% larger than previous models. The engine is only 13.3 inches tall, the same height as the transmission, allowing it to be mounted 2.4 inches further towards the rear, and 1.6 inches lower than the engine in the latest model RX-7. Power is carried from the transmission to the differential via a carbon fiber drive shaft which minimizes both weight (as a steel drive shaft is very heavy) and rotational inertia which improves (decreases) the time in which the engine "revs" up to speed.
Some of the most vital RX-EVOLV Statistics:
Net Horsepower 210@7200rpm 250@8500rpm
Net Torque 164@5000rpm 159@5500rpm
Redline 7500rpm 9000rpm
EPA Mileage City 20.3mpg 20.4mpg
EPA Mileage Highway 31.6mpg 30.2mpg
Displacement 1.3 liters
Compression Ratio 10.3:1
Fuel Injection Multi-Port (Sequential)
The RX-8's front suspension is a double wishbone setup, with a multilink at rear. The space saved by using this setup allows the stock eighteen inch wheels. Using the larger wheels allows a tire with a shorter sidewall, cutting down on sidewall flex and increasing the firmness of the car's grip on the road.
The RX-8 can be delivered with (or without) one of three options packages: Sports, Touring, and Grand Touring (GT). All three of these packages give the version with the automatic transmission four things that the base model of the manual has: LSD or limited slip differential, 18" wheels, larger brakes, and a "sport tuned suspension", which generally means harder springs, stiffer shock absorbers, and sometimes increased-size sway bars.
The Sports package also gives both cars Xenon headlights, traction control, and fog lamps. The Touring package further adds a bose sound system, auto day/night mirror, and a moonroof. The Grand Touring package further includes leather trimmed upholstery, faux leather door trim, 6-way power driver's seat, heated seats, and seats with lumbar support.
With fifty-fifty weight distribution, a low CG, and 250 horsepower, this descendent of the Mazda RX-7, one of the most popular and successful small sports cars of all time, is a truly formidable addition to the highways and backroads of Earth.
- Website: www.Howstuffworks.com, North American International Auto Show 2001 (http://www.howstuffworks.com/naias200122.htm)
- Website: RX-8.com - Information site on the Mazda RX-8! (http://www.rx-8.com)
- Website: cardesignnews, Tokyo Motor Show 2001 - Highlights(http://www.cardesignnews.com/autoshows/2001/tokyo/highlights/h02-mazda-rx8.html)
- Website: Ford Motor Company, Mazda RX-8 (http://www.ford.com/en/ourVehicles/autoShows/detroit2002/vehicles/mazda/mazdaRX8/default.htm)
- Mazda RX-8 Features and Specs. Mazda, 2003. (http://www.mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/displayPage.action?pageParameter=rx8SpecsHTML&flash=2)