sports car icon, the inimitable RX-8, now has a 141 kW / five-speed derivative!
Based on the six-speed RX-8, which has won accolades the world over.
is the case with the six-speed model, the five-speed features the award-winning
RENESS rotary engine which is extremely compact. One of the many secrets of its
success is the fact that this powerplant is mounted low and to the rear of the
vehicle, in what Mazda calls an “advanced front midship layout”. This twin
rotor engine employs side intake and exhaust ports, and features approximately
30 percent more intake area than previous rotary engines, realising greatly
reduced intake-flow resistance.
141 kW at 7000 r/min is slightly reduced from the six-speed’s 170 kW at 8200 rpm
- but it is certainly no less impressive. In fact, the 141 kW motor actually
boasts better torque than the 170 kW unit – the former offers 220 Nm at just
5000 rpm (versus 211 Nm at 5500 rpm in the six-speed RX-8 model).
to its centrally located fuel tank, this new RX-8 boasts near faultless weight
distribution, which gives precise and controlled handling. Naturally, this
translates into significantly better cornering capabilities for all those
drivers who crave performance. Combined with the wide tread, long wheelbase and
short overhand, this car is an exhilarating drive with unmatched stability,
whether on S-bends roads or long, straight highways.
five-speed gearbox’s carefully chosen gear ratios offer a good balance between
performance and fuel economy. It has a fast short throw for crisp sporty
shifting, made all the smoother and lighter by linked triple cone synchronisers
for first, second and third gears.
safety measures of the RX-8 (the world’s first four-door, four-seater sports
car) impress on both the active and passive fronts. The active safety measures
include advanced braking in line with the requirements of genuine sports cars.
RX-8 comes equipped with four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Large diameter ventilated disk brakes
in the front, and a single 10-inch booster assures a high servo limit. Combined
they give the RX-8 class-leading braking distance with minimal fade (you gonna
need the excellent brakes, as there's no engine braking from the Rotary
'2-stroke' motor). Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) combines the functions of
four-wheel ABS and traction control, exercising command over engine power output
as well and offering optimal brake control on all four wheels.
system maintains a stable vehicle attitude when cornering on slippery surfaces
or during emergency avoidance manoeuvres. DSC can be completely disabled, giving
the driver full control when undertaking advanced driving techniques such as
drift manoeuvres on a racing circuit, as I experienced with this test. We did
the test at Wesbank Raceway in Germiston, under the watchful eye of Grant
McCleery and company (Yokohama Driving Dynamics).
of the most outstanding features of the RX-8 is its pillarless centre body,
designed to realise a wide door-opening area. Nevertheless, the car achieves
supreme standards of safety through the incorporation of Mazda’s tough body
structure. The rigid body maintains world standards in frontal and rear-end
collisions, as well as achieving the side-impact resistance of a regular four
safety measures include the incorporation of airbags and seatbelts. Both the
passenger and rear seats have curtain airbags to help minimise the risk of head
injuries. The driver’s side airbag system deploys in two stages. A sensor
judges the severity of the collision and chooses which of the two airbag
inflation stages to use, to ensure that the airbag offers the best possible
protection to the driver.
front seatbelts offer a pretensioner mechanism, which automatically absorbs the
slack, holding the occupant firmly in place in the event of a collision. There
is also a load limit mechanism to help minimise damage to the occupant’s chest
and thorax. Should the wearer exceed the predetermined seat belt limit, the load
limiter releases the seatbelt in a controlled manner. The front seat headrest is
designed to reduce whiplash.
RX-8’s taut exterior gives perfect expression to the three major design
objectives of dynamism, stability and tension. These create a sense of motion
even when the car is stationary. The only notable exterior differences between
the two models are the wheels – 16-inch, in the case of the five-speed, versus
the six-speed model's 18-inch wheels.
of the neat features of the RX-8 is its freestyle door system, with front-hinged
front doors and rear-hinged rear doors, which allows for easy access to both the
front and back seats, thanks to the absence of a centre pillar. The rear door
release handle can only be activated when the front door is open, preventing
accidental opening while the car is in motion.
compact exterior belies the actual cabin size. In a truly innovative move for a
sports car, four adults can travel in complete comfort thanks to the ingenious
design. Ample headroom is on offer and, by minimising the thickness of the front
seats, without compromising on comfort or hold, while back seat passengers
(drivers) have enough legroom. The
result is four individual seats that are comfortable and perfectly adapted to
high performance driving.
instrument panel’s robust central section has wing-shaped dashboard sections
on either side. The three large round meters combine functionality with the
right style for the sports-minded driver. Information is displayed on the top of
the central stack to minimise the change in the driver’s line of vision.
The adjustment knobs are situated low down, within easy reach, while
audio and climate control are of the highest standards.
the case with most other sports cars, the RX-8’s boot was designed for
practical living, accommodating two suitcases or two golf bags. To allow greater
depth, the spare tyre has been removed and replaced with an emergency puncture
repair kit. Boot volume is about 290 litres. There is also a centre panel that
can fold down into the back seat to allow for boot-through storage of longer
a nutshell, this feisty performer sports the best of everything. With its
award-winning twin rotor engine, the five-speed Mazda RX-8 is an absolute
pleasure to drive, boasting state-of-the-art interior comforts and the safety to
really enjoy the ride. Its sporty and spirited physique adds the finishing touch
to a unique driving experience.
The Mazda RX-8 has a 3year / 100,000 km's warranty period, 10,000 km's or 12 months service intervals, 5 year / 100,000 km's maintenance plan and a 24 hour / 7 days a week roadside assistance programme as standard - which includes features such as hotel accommodation or free car hire as may be required.
Thanks to Mazda South Africa, Grant McCleery and all the guys at Driving Dynamics for allowing me the opportunity to drive their RX-8 around the track and on the skidpan at Wesbank Raceway. When I win the Lotto, a yellow or blue Mazda RX-8 will be at the top of my shopping list as far as cars are concerned.
Before you log-off write this number down - 011 873 6266, that's Driving Dynamic's phone number. Go on one of their Specialised Driving Skills courses, it's not only a great experience, it's essential for survival on our roads today.
Photos by Kenn
Grant McCleery showing Dylan how to power-slide the rear-wheel-drive RX-8 around the skidpan.
|Specifications||5 speed||6 speed|
|Engine type||RENESIS Rotary Engine||RENESIS Rotary Engine|
|Max output||141Kw @ 7000rpm||170kW @ 8200rpm|
|Max torque||220Nm @ 5000rpm||211Nm @ 5200rpm|
|Steering||Direct drive electric power steering||Direct drive electric power steering|
|Front seat power lift and tile||Driver only||Driver only|
|Fuel tank capacity||61 litre||61 litre|
|Steering mount audio control||Yes||yes|
|Front suspension||Double wishbone||Double wishbone|
|Wheel size||16X7.5JJ||18 x 8JJ|
|Braking||ABS with EBD||ABS with EBD|
|Airbags||Driver / passenger / side / curtain||Driver / passenger / side / curtain|
|ICE||6 disc in-dash CD shuttle||6 disc in-dash CD shuttle|
|Electric sliding sunroof||Yes||Yes|
|ISO Fix Childseat points||Yes||Yes|
|Headlamps||Halogen||High Intensity Discharge|