The four-door Mazda RX-8 sportcar has is bound to win over many fans with its award-winning twin-rotor engine screaming merrily to 9 300 r/min.The four-door, six-speed Mazda RX-8 sportcar has arrived in South Africa and its bound to win over many fans with its award-winning twin-rotor engine screaming merrily to 9 300 r/min.

The RX-8 has been eagerly awaited in South Africa since its 170 kW 2,6-litre twin-rotor Renesis engine was named “International Engine of the Year 2003” in Stuttgart, Germany in June this year. Moreover, it has an innovative “freestyle” four-door, four-seat format that offers adequate space for four passengers to go with its unmistakable styling.

"The Mazda RX-8 comes to South Africa at a pivotal time in the history of Mazda in this country," Mazda Southern Africa marketing manager Rob Crouse said. "Where the Mazda6 was the first new generation Mazda to fully reflect the style and spirit of the Zoom-Zoom philosophy, the Mazda RX-8 is the ultimate Zoom-Zoom car. It's in the essence of the design, the functionality and the very thing that powers it – the Rotary engine”.

First impressions of the RX-8 were that the car’s handling is sharp and very well balanced. Mazda achieved this, it claims, by virtue of the compact and lightweight Renesis engine being positioned approximately 60 mm rearward and 40 mm downward from where it would ordinarily be. Furthermore, the dashboard was forward by 80mm, delivering the “advanced front midship layout” Mazda’s designers and engineers were after.

The fuel tank is located centrally, fore of the rear half-shafts, contributing to both the vehicle’s weight distribution. The car’s body incorporates a high-mount backbone frame in the upper part of the transmission tunnel and the suspension setup comprises a double wishbone at the front and multi-link at the rear.

In addition, RX-8 employs electric-motor assist for the rack-and pinion power steering. The system delivers optimal feedback of road information to the driver. Braking is handled by a four-wheel anti-lock brake system (4W-ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). In addition, there is Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Brake assist is not used on the RX-8, “in order to preserve the direct, linear brake feel demanded of a genuine sports car”, the company said.

The naturally-aspirated, twin-rotor Renesis engine employs side intake and exhaust ports and features approximately 30 per cent more intake area than previous rotary engines. “The engine’s three-stage intake system and electronic throttle delivers power output unparalleled in a naturally aspirated unit. Fuel-efficiency and emissions are also improved over the previous rotary engines,” a Mazda spokesman said.

Renesis is a 654 cm3 x two rotor unit that generates 170 kW maximum power at 8200 r/min and 211 N.m of torque at 5 500 r/min. Mazda claims a top speed of 235 km/h, and zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 6,3 sec for the RX-8.

But the low-slung RX-8 is not an impractical sportscar. The RX-8’s body shell has no centre pillars and the front and rear doors open from the centre. The front doors fully open to a hinge angle of 67 degrees while the rear doors swing open to 80 degrees. The absence of centre pillars provided the expected large door opening, making entry and exit easier.

To assure sufficient headroom, designers lowered the cabin floor by considering the location of the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter and related components. The hood and instrument panel were also lowered as much as possible for a less obstructed view, which in turn allowed for a lower seating position.

The seats are deep and very low the floor, adding to the amount of headroom. To optimise knee clearance for rear-seat passengers, designers concentrated on the shape of the front seat backs and reduced the cushion thickness. Rear-seat space is not ample, but arguably better than that seen in most sportscars.

Furthermore, the front seat slide rails are positioned for fore/aft adjustments, allowing extra leg and foot room for rear-seat passengers. At an impressive 290 litres (VDA), the trunk of the RX-8 accommodates two golf bags or two medium-sized suitcases.

Safety wise, the RX-8 is equipped with a driver’s side SRS airbag featuring dual-stage deployment and a passenger’s side SRS airbag, as well as curtain and side airbags. In addition, the car has an intrusion-minimizing brake pedal to help reduce foot and leg injuries in a frontal collision. Mazda also incorporates safety features that help reduce injury to pedestrians, the aluminium hood has cone-type construction to absorb and cushion impacts in the event of a car-pedestrian accident.

Original article from Car