Mazda unveiled the RX-8 at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show.
Mazda exhibited the RX-EVOLV at 1999 Tokyo Motor Show,
as a proposal for a new sports car with an innovative packaging concept based on the next-generation rotary engine. Mazda
received a favorable response for the concept car from customers all over the world. At the 2001 North American International
Auto Show, Mazda also exhibited a design and engineering model of the RX-8, which was a result of our corporate desire to
realize the potential that the RX-EVOLV showed.
In developing the RX-8, Mazda strove to realize conflicting goals:
delivering a vehicle with striking, sporty styling with a superior blend of handling and performance, while providing ride
comfort and the functionality for four adults. A key factor in achieving these goals is the RENESIS engine, the next-generation
rotary powerplant, which is more compact and higher-powered than previous rotary engines, featuring a water cooled, two-rotor
configuration. This delivers a maximum output of 184kW/8500rpm and 216Nm of torque at 7500rpm, while achieving improved fuel
efficiency and cleaner emissions. The RX-8 incorporates both genuine sports car styling and an interior package spacious enough
for four adults. It also includes a further refined front-midship layout as well as a freestyle, four-door configuration without
a center pillar. Exceptional driving performance comes through 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and small yaw-inertia
moment. With superior practicality, the RX-8 will meet the expectations of a wider range of customers, not only sports car
The RX-8 is an entirely new sports car embodying Mazda's "Zoom-Zoom" brand message to the maximum, by pursuing
"Distinctive design," "Exceptional functionality," and "Responsive handling and performance."
Unprecedented Sports Car Styling Encapsulating Space for Four Adults
The form of a genuine sports
classic Mazda has produced many sports cars with exciting styling that stand the test of time, such as the first-generation
Cosmo Sport, the RX-7 and the MX-5/Miata/Roadster. Following this tradition, Mazda designers were determined to give the four-door,
four-seater RX-8 unprecedented styling. They began by sculpting a body with a dynamic feeling of motion. Exciting surfaces
run from the aggressive front air intake along the body to the trunk lid. The classic rear-wheel drive sports layout places
visual emphasis on the rear tires. Short front and rear overhangs, and characteristic overfenders, underline the vehicle's
look of stability. The styling is a classic statement of beauty in motion, reminiscent of a top athlete.
This is the
perfect embodiment of Mazda's new design philosophy of "Emotion in Motion." The adoption of the freestyle door system, for
four doors without center pillar, means the RX-8 is an unprecedented combination - the look and feel of a genuine sports car
in a four-door vehicle. The shape of the rear pillars and rear window pay homage to the first-generation Cosmo Sport and RX-7,
yet its innovative package provides enough space for four adults.
Low, dynamic front end Aggressive lines extending
from the air intake along the low hood that only a rotary engine with its compact design can make possible; a power bulge
in the center of the hood with a rotor as the motif; a bumper fascia emphasizing the "cubic" effect; and short front overhang
all combine to create a dynamic sports car image and emotional atmosphere, enhancing the car's Zoom-Zoom spirit. In addition,
the front fender wheel arches stand high and clear of the low hood to visually manifest the RX-8's power and provide the driver
a clear view of the front corners of the vehicle.
Rear view with emotional and cool styling cues The rear view is
designed to create a vivid impression as the car drives away - an important consideration for a sports car. This is partly
achieved by the RX-8's short rear overhang. Rear combination lamps receive a mechanical touch through the addition of chrome
accents, a rotor-shaped rear fog lamp is located low in the center of the bumper, and the dual exhaust pipes are placed to
the left and right. Taken together, these elements create an impression that is simultaneously emotional and contemporary.
RESPONSIVE HANDLING AND PERFORMANCE
High-mount backbone frame To give
the RX-8 the rigidity a genuine sports car demands, a strong, high-mount backbone is located in the upper part of the transmission
tunnel. This backbone runs from the front bulkhead through the cabin to the rear bulkhead and functions as the main frame
of the chassis, enhancing rigidity and allowing reduction of body-panel thickness and weight. It also contributes to safety
in the event of a collision.
Closed-section power plant frame (PPF) The lightweight closed-section PPF locks the entire
powertrain - including the differential gear - into a single rigid unit. This mechanism enhances direct and linear acceleration
feel and crisp shift operation with plenty of sports car driving pleasure.
One-piece, carbon-fiber propeller shaft
Even with a 2,700mm wheelbase, the RX-8's front-midship layout drastically shortens the distance from the gearbox to the differential.
This allowed engineers to install a one-piece propeller shaft made of carbon fiber, which further reduced weight.
suspension at front and multi-link beam suspension at rear Long-arm double-wishbone suspension at the front and multi-link
beam suspension at the rear provide ideal suspension geometry. Long arms and links achieve suspension linearity and roll control,
while optimum roll-center height maximizes suspension stroke. Tires remain perpendicular to the road throughout the length
of suspension travel for superior grip, even under the hardest cornering. The result is superb roadholding with no sacrifice
in ride comfort. Thanks to the greatly reduced yaw-inertia moment (a result of the front-midship layout), optimum roll-center
height and tire camber control, the RX-8 delivers a sharp response to steering inputs and enhanced controllability. This chassis
and suspension design also allowed the adoption of large-diameter 18-inch aluminum wheels with high-grip 225/45ZR18 tires.
Rack-and-pinion power steering gives accurate feedback on road conditions, while an electric power-steering pump delivers
precisely the right amount of assist to match driving conditions. One further benefit of an electric power-steering pump is
improved fuel economy, as electrically driven steering, as opposed to the typical belt-driven system, does not drain power
from the engine. Large, 17-inch ventilated discs on all wheels give sure, positive braking in support of safe, sporty driving.
Six-point rubber mounts on the rear subframe improve both driving stability and road noise.
SAFETY AND CONSIDERATION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Improved performance to side-collisions Placing the RENESIS
engine front midship realized a sufficiently large crushable zone between the engine and front bumper. This ensures improved
impact absorption in head-on and offset frontal collisions. At the same time, the RX-8 also provides superior performance
in side-impacts. It has a highly rigid body structure for a sports car, in spite of the pillar-less, wide-opening design.
To achieve this, a large number of measures were adopted including a rigid underbody frame, the high-mount backbone running
through the cabin, and carefully planned chassis reinforcements. A reinforcement structure forms a virtual center pillar built
into the door frames, while top and bottom latches lock the rear door to the body. In addition, a safety lock mechanism allows
the rear doors to open only if the front doors are open, too. Active-safety measures include large-diameter 17-inch ventilated
disc brakes on each wheel, a 4W-ABS (four-wheel anti-lock braking system), and newly adopted DSC (dynamic stability control)
that senses when the vehicle begins to skid or spin, and counters it by controlling engine torque and applying the brakes
Tackling environment problems Zero overlap between the intake and exhaust ports results in enhanced thermal
efficiency for the RENESIS engine, allowing a much leaner air/fuel mixture for fuel efficiency when idling compared to the
13B-REW rotary engine in the RX-7. In addition, thanks to the efficiency inherent in the rotary engine, the RX-8 operates
with a lean mixture even during high-speed high-load operation. A high compression ratio and newly developed ultra-fine fuel
injectors make virtually perfect combustion possible across the engine's entire speed range. Rotary engines also have structural
qualities that cause them to generate less NOx (nitrogen oxide) than conventional engines. RENESIS' side-exhaust layout retains
unburned HC (hydrocarbons) for the next combustion cycle, further lowering emissions. In addition, a newly developed catalytic
converter for the rotary engine is teamed with a double-skin exhaust manifold that maintains a high exhaust-gas temperature
to improve catalyst activation on engine start, even in cold conditions.
The newest member of the rotary family, the RX-8 is a compact sports car with the luxuary of a four seater with reverse
opening rear doors that can only be opened by the inside, eliminating the door handles to make it look like a two door.
The RX-8 comes with a new refined 1.3L 13B Dual Rotor RENESIS rotary engine.
Producing 240hp with its non-turbo rotary engine, the RX-8's RENESIS 13B's exaust ports have been moved from the sidewall
of the combustion chamber to the face of the rotor housing, eliminating the loss of exaust through the chamber seals.