|Mazda RX-8 reborn as MX-8 !
Production of Mazda RX-8 stopped
at the end of last year as its rotary
engine could not meet the requirements of new emission regulations
enforced this year. However, since its demise there have been
overwhelming voices from enthusiasts circles as well as Mazda's US
dealers to ask for a follow-up model. Unfortunately, the development of
new 16X rotary engine and new RX-7 have been affecting by technical
difficulties and financial constraints so that they are not going to
happen in the next 5 years. As a stop-gap measure, Mazda decided to
build a conventional engine version of RX-8. It is to be called MX-8.
The MX-8 will
be the flagship of the MX line of coupes, which
includes MX-5 and the demised MX-3 and MX-6 of the 1990s. The change of
name makes sense as the R in RX-8 means Rotary and the M in MX means
The MX-8 keeps
largely all of RX-8 intact except the powertrain and
suspension fine tuning. As the chassis of RX-8 is still considered to
be top notch, Mazda believes there is no need to redo it. Its unique
styling and 4-seat cabin with suicide rear doors are also considered to
be unrivalled. Modifications to the exterior are largely introduced to
aid cooling. In particular, the bonnet is opened with two ventilation
holes to cool the intercooler, and the front quarter panel at each side
incorporates an additional vent to extract hot air from the engine
compartment. As a result of the latter change, the signal lamps have
been moved to the headlamps. New LED daytime running lights have been
added, too. Finally, a reshaped lip spoiler and slightly deeper side
skirts cut aerodynamic drag by 0.01 to 0.29.
The focus is
the engine, of course. Powering the MX-8 is a new Skyactiv
2.3 Turbo four-cylinder with dual S-VT variable valve timing and direct
fuel injection. It is known to be derived from the unit powering Mazda
3 MPS (Mazdaspeed 3), but converted to position longitudinally in the
rear-drive coupe. New Skyactiv technology raises its compression ratio
from 9.5:1 to 12.5:1, thanks to a set of long, length-matched exhaust
manifolds and special pistons. Such a high compression is unheard for
turbocharged gasoline engines. As a result, the engine pumps out 280 hp
and 295 lbft, 20 hp and 15 lbft stronger than the version of Mazda 3
MPS. Moreover, its maximum torque is available from merely 1000 rpm all
the way to 5500 rpm, thanks to the use of a twin-scroll turbo. The
engine is capable to rev to 7000 rpm, impressive for a turbo
four-banger, if not a match to the Wankel engine's 9000 rpm redline.
the outgoing RX-8, the MX-8 offers 45 extra horsepower at
the top end. Its peak torque is almost doubled, and tractability should
be far superior. We expect its 0-60 mph sprint will be closer to 5.0
seconds than the RX-8's 6.3 seconds.
is kept unchanged from RX-8
The MX-8 is
equipped with 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. It is a
beefed up version of the outgoing unit. Better news is that the RX-8's
optional 5-speed automatic is to be replaced with a new 7-speed
dual-clutch gearbox. The latter is supplied by Getrag and is
practically the same as that being used on BMW M3 DCT.
have loved to apply the Skyactiv lightweight chassis
technology to the car, but that proposal was rejected due to
cost concerns. Anyway, the RX-8 chassis is still relatively stiff and
lightweight by class standard. In addition to retuned suspensions, it
should keep the
excellent handling and ride of the outgoing car.
is largely unaltered, but uses soft-touch plastics all round.
While the RX-8
was notorious for thirst and pollution, the MX-8 should
be a lot more friendly to environment. It adopts a range of Skyactiv
green technology to cut carbon footprints. Most notable of which is Skyactiv Cylinder Deactivation,
which shuts down 2 of the 4 cylinders in each brake caliper at light
load to save your pedal effort.
technology is Skyactiv
bonnet, which is made of recycled popcorn to cut weight and
carbon footprints over entire lifetime. It also demonstrated excellent
results in pedestrian collision tests, as pedestrians reported that it
tastes good. Besides, the MX-8 is also equipped with Skyactiv driver
seat (which actively ejects the driver to the sky once he exceeds speed
limit), Skyactiv cupholders (which capture the energy of hot coffee to
recharge battery), Skyactiv
glovebox, Skyactiv buttons, Skyactiv service manual...
The new MX-8
will go on sale globally on the 1st of April. Its main
competitors will be Gordon
Murray T-25 and the leaf-sucking Nissan