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The Mazda RX-8 is a sports car manufactured by Mazda Motor Corporation. It first appeared in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show. It is the successor to the RX-7 and, like its predecessors in the RX range, it is powered by a rotary engine. The RX-8 began North American sales in the 2004 model year.

Mazda has sold rotary engine vehicles in the US since 1971, beginning with the R100, followed by RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, RX-5, and finally three generations of the RX-7 sports car. With the third generation RX-7, Mazda held nothing back and delivered a super high performance sports car with little compromise. The lack of creature comfort and user-friendliness, coupled with the high price tag and declining interest in sports cars and coupes at this time, led to Mazda pulling the RX-7 from most major markets except Japan. After 1995, Mazda suffered from a relatively undistinguished product line in the US save the MX-5 Miata. As popular interest in import tuning and performance cars resurged in the late 90's, thanks in part to various popular cultural influences such as the Sony PlayStation video game Gran Turismo, Japanese automakers waded back into the performance and sports car market in the US. In addition, Mazda endeavored to rejuvenate itself around this time, partially with financial and management assistance from Ford, and successfully developed a new product line of high quality cars with desirable styling and superior driving dynamics, beginning with the Mazda6 and followed by the Mazda3, paving way for the arrival for Mazda's next-generation rotary sports car.

Used Mazda RX-8

New for 2004 is the Mazda RX-8 coupe. The Rear Wheel Drive RX-8 is due out in the Spring of 2003 and is available with two engines, a 207hp engine paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. The second optional engine is a 250hp paired to a six-speed manual transmission. An optional Sport Suspension with 18 inch wheels and 225/45R-18 Bridgestone Potenza RE040 tires will be offered on both models.

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Development of the RX-8 can be traced to as far back as the 1995 Mazda RX-01 concept car, which featured an early iteration of the 13B-MSP engine. Naturally aspirated with side exhaust ports, this engine produced 220hp. As prohibited by Mazda's financial state at the time and the growing market interest in SUVs, the RX-01 never saw further development or production. However, a "skunkworks" engineering team within Mazda kept the development of the 13B-MSP alive using MX-5 Miata chassis, eventually catching the attention of management, which at this time had come under heavy influence from Ford. Development of the 13B-MSP advanced and eventually led to the RENESIS moniker debuting along with the RX-EVOLV concept car which began to bear semblance to the production RX-8 with the "freestyle" doors. Styling was developed via design competitions in Mazda tradition among its design studios in Japan, the US, and Europe. The project obtained official approval from management, and eventually the RX-8 concept car (design/engineering model) was produced and shown in 2001, closer resembling the production version. A near-production "reference exhibit" RX-8 was shown shortly thereafter at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, pending final approval for production. Production RX-8 closely resembles this vehicle save for minor trim details, and "job 1" began in February 2003 at Mazda's Hiroshima plant in Japan.

The RX-8 was designed as a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive four-seat coupé. The car has a near 50:50 weight distribution, achieved by mounting the engine behind the front axle and the fuel tank ahead of the rear axle. The front wheels feature classic independent double wishbone suspension, while the rear are independent multi-link. Weight is trimmed through the use of materials such as aluminium (hood & rear doors), and a carbon fiber composite driveshaft on the manual gearbox car. All this contribute to reduced rotational mass (Moment of Inertia) connected to the engine. The rest of the body is steel, save for the plastic front and rear bumpers. While not quite in the league as the last RX-7 in terms of raw performance, the RX-8 is considered its successor as Mazda's rotary engine sports car. Its layout and clever engineering have endowed it with excellent driving dynamics which have garnered much praise and numerous awards. It has also proven popular in Japan among car enthusiasts as well as aftermarket equipment manufacturers and professional tuners.



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