Detroit Auto Show: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Revealed

2009 Mazda RX-8

Mazda today revealed the brand new 2009 Mazda RX-8 with a refreshed exterior and interior, enhanced performance and a new R3 sports package for those that care to get a little more “Zoom-Zoom.”

The 2009 Mazda RX-8 remains the only mass-produced rotary-powered passenger available as either a 232-horsepower model fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission, or a 212-horsepower model fitted with a 6-speed Sport A/T automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The new R3 sports package adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and front suspension crossmembers filled with urethane foam. Visually, the R3 package adds a rear spoiler, side sills, fog lights and sporty front
bumper are added to give an aggressive appearance, along with 19-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels with high performance tires. Three other trim levels are also available including a Sport Trim, a Touring trim and Grand Touring trim.

Click through for the press release for more info and live images from the Detroit Auto Show.

2009 Mazda RX-8 Gallery:

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Press Release:


Launched in 2003, the Mazda RX-8 hit the global market with a serious bang. The RX-8
has won more than 50 global awards since its release including 2003 RJC Car of the Year in
Japan Australia’s Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year for 2003, 2003 International Engine of
the Year, 2004 Singapore Car of the Year, the 2004 U.S. Best Sports Car and UK Car of the Year
2004. It was also named on Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for 2004, 2005, and 2006.
All together, Mazda has sold nearly 167,000 RX-8s around the world.

For 2009, Mazda will further the evolution of the four-door, four-seater sports coupe,
giving RX-8 a refreshed exterior and interior design, enhanced performance and a new R3
sport package for the ultimate driving enthusiast.

Unchanged is the core of the RX-8 ““ a high-powered, lightweight and perfectly
balanced machine powered by the world-renowned twin-rotor RENESIS rotary engine.
“Dating back to the Cosmo Sport released in 1967, every sports car ever developed by
Mazda has had the same fundamental mission ““ to provide car lovers with a vehicle that”s
fun-to-drive, exciting to look at and easy to own,” said Tetsu Nakazawa, Mazda North
American Operations” RX-8 vehicle line manager. “The 2009 RX-8 embodies that mission,
conveying the unique and distinctive Mazda brand DNA to the fullest.”

To enhance the highly successful RX-8, Mazda engineers focused on innovation in
three key areas for the 2009 RX-8: styling, performance and packaging. “The enhancements
made to RX-8″s exterior, interior, packaging and performance takes it to a whole new level
of visual and driving excitement,” remarked Nakazawa.


RX-8 was designed with an athletically sculpted exterior that provides a sense of
originality that”s unrivaled in the marketplace today. For 2009, RX-8 receives design
enhancements that are meant to freshen the styling and give RX-8 a new look, without
impairing the basic design theme. Refinements for the 2009 model year include restyled
front and rear bumpers and front fascia; sporty, high quality finish front and rear
headlamps; and larger exhaust pipes (now measuring 90 mm across). The 2009 RX-8 also
offers a new five-spoke wheel design featuring a symbolic and sporty design reminiscent of
the rotary engine, with different arrangements for each wheel size.

Taut muscular lines give RX-8 the liberating look of an athlete in motion. The
muscular styling maintains classic sports car proportions while adding a Zoom-Zoom edge
that is unmistakably Mazda.

The RX-8″s unique “freestyle” four-door design is proof that a true sports car does
not need to sacrifice space or convenience for performance. The advanced design of the
rear-hinged rear doors, provides a large door opening, allowing adult-sized passengers to
easily enter and exit the vehicle. This design is also advantageous when securing a baby or a
small child in the back seat. With a spacious rear seat area providing ample passenger room
for four full-size adults, and enough trunk space for a weekend”s worth of luggage, this
sports car proves its versatility.

The RX-8″s exterior styling presents a genuine sports car form, while the interior
boasts a comfortable and intelligently designed cabin. Minor enhancements were made for
the 2009 RX-8 to provide a simple and functional interior design that supports driving
pleasure. The center IP shape was redesigned to give a feeling of dynamic movement, a
variable red-zone was added to the tachometer that will rise as the engine comes to
operating temperature and a new steering wheel and redesigned front and rear seats are also

An extremely low cabin floor allows the seats to be mounted low in the chassis, which,
along with a low instrument cluster and hood, allows a low center of gravity and allows
outstanding occupant visibility. Mazda designers concentrated on the shape of the front
seat backs and the rear seat cushions to ensure adequate rear-seat knee room. Front seat
slide-rails are positioned to allow maximum leg room for rear-seat passengers.

The rotary design element is incorporated through the interior of the RX-8 in creative
ways, appearing in the seats. The stylish cabin also evokes a sense of luxury and high-end
quality. Mazda”s design team examined every aspect and component of the interior and has
created an elegant, driver-centric atmosphere. Through the use of advanced ergonomic
research, Mazda engineers determined that improper seating posture is a major cause of
driver fatigue and built in optimum support in the front seats to help offset discomfort. In
addition, the color of the RX-8″s instrument cluster was developed to reduce eye fatigue and


Through-and-through, the RX-8 is a pure sports car that gives the driver an exciting
and dynamic experience. For 2009, engineers improved RX-8 body rigidity through the
addition of structural reinforcements, by adding a trapezoidal strut tower bar and enhancing
the local rigidity of the front suspension tower areas. Also, the rear suspension geometry
has been reconfigured for better handling performance and driveshaft rigidity is improved,
lowering NVH levels and improving performance.

In addition, the differential gear ratio on manual transmission-equipped cars is
lowered from 4.444 to 4.777 for improved off-the-line performance. While minimal, these
performance changes give RX-8 increased acceleration and performance, as well as even
greater responsiveness to the accelerator pedal ““ always a rotary-engine and
RX-8 hallmark.

To achieve this sophisticated dynamic, Mazda utilizes the advanced RENESIS (Rotary
Engine genesis ““ or rebirth of the rotary engine) engine. The Mazda RX-8 remains the only
mass-produced rotary-powered passenger car in the world. While exhibiting unusually high
power output for a naturally aspirated engine, RENESIS outstrips comparable reciprocating
engines in terms of acceleration, the feeling of power in reserve and quick response.
The 2009 Mazda RX-8 is available as either a 232-horsepower model fitted with a sixspeed
manual transmission, or a 212-horsepower model fitted with a six-speed Sport A/T
automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for a Formula 1-style driving

By turning a triangular rotor in a cocoon-shaped combustion chamber, the
RX-8″s rotary engine efficiently performs the four processes of intake, compression,
combustion and exhaust. The RENESIS engine is remarkably smooth and high revving “” all the
way to 9,000 rpm (7,500 rpm on Sport A/T”“equipped models) “” and offers a smaller engine
footprint than traditional internal combustion engines (some 60 percent smaller and lighter
than a comparably powered V-6, and 40 percent smaller and lighter than a four-cylinder). In
fact, the packaging and styling that define the RX-8 would not have been possible had Mazda
engineers chosen a conventional piston engine.

Improving upon 40 years of rotary designs, the RENESIS engine features side intake
and exhaust ports with nearly 30 percent more intake port and twice as much exhaust port
than its predecessors. The efficiencies gained through shortening intake/exhaust
overlapping period and using the larger intake and exhaust ports in delivering world-class

The RX-8″s normally aspirated 1.3-liter engine might appear diminutive to the
untrained eye when compared to large-displacement V-8s or heavyweight V-10s or V-12s.
However, through the incredible efficiencies of a rotary powerplant, an advanced threestage
intake system and an electronic throttle, the RENESIS engine delivers smooth, linear
power on a grand scale.

The RX-8 uses an aluminum double-wishbone front suspension, reducing unsprung
weight over the use of steel components. By mounting the upper and lower arms on a highly
rigid sub-frame, the long arms ensure linear alignment changes throughout the jounce and
rebound of the front wheels. All corners are fitted with mono-tube gas-filled shock
absorbers designed with large-diameter internal pistons and valving, which offer excellent
road feedback and a smooth ride.

An electric rack-and-pinion power-steering system transmits just the right amount of
road information back to the driver. Mazda engineers have chosen to pursue their own path
by using an electric motor for steering assistance rather than a conventional power-steering
pump. The electric motor provides additional assistance at low speeds to ease parking and
reduces steering assistance at higher speeds to provide greater road feel, responsiveness and
feedback. And, in keeping with the rest of the development on RX-8, it is far lighter and
easier to package than a conventional power-steering rack.


To cater to the driving-conscious enthusiast, the 2009 RX-8 will offer a new R3 sport
package. Providing the very best in rotary-powered motoring, the R3 harkens back to the R1
and R2 packages offered on the mighty third-generation RX-7, and adds a sport-tuned
suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and front suspension crossmembers filled with
urethane foam. Filling the crossmembers makes for a smoother ride, minimized NVH and
greater suspension control.

On the visual side of the package, a rear spoiler, side sills, fog lights and sporty front
bumper are added to give an aggressive appearance, along with 19-inch forged aluminumalloy
wheels with high performance tires. Inside, the R3 adds a 300-watt Bose® audio
system with Centerpoint® surround sound and AudioPilot® noise compensation technology,
Bluetooth hands-free phone system, front Recaro sport seats with leather side bolsters,
leather-wrapped parking brake handle and Mazda advanced keyless entry and start system.

Three other trim levels are also offered including: a Sport trim, a Touring trim (adds
HID headlights, fog lamps, auto dimming mirror with Homelink® and 6-disc auto changer on
top of the Sport trim features and DSC; add 18-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, sporttuned
suspension and larger front disc brakes to these items for A/T cars, and Bose® audio
system, moonroof, SIRIUS satellite radio are offered as the package option), and a Grand
Touring trim (on top of the Touring trim features, adds automatic air conditioner, Bluetooth
hands-free phone system, Bose® audio system auto headlight, rain sensing wiper, poweradjustable
driver”s seat with lumbar support and memory function, leather seating surfaces
“” heated front seats”” and heated outside mirrors and Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry & Start
system. A DVD-driven satellite-navigation unit is available as a stand-alone option and uses a
single DVD for mapping the entire United States and portions of Canada. Additionally, a moon
roof and SIRIUS satellite radio are offered as an package option.)

All Mazdas come with a roadside assistance program. With a call to a toll-free number,
owners can access roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United
States and Canada. In addition, a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers
every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, all models receive a
five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion


When designing the RX-8, safety was given as much of a priority as was performance.
For Mazda, the safety process incorporates both accident avoidance and accident protection.
In effect, this approach to safety means the RX-8 can help the driver avoid various dangers
and protect occupants in the unfortunate event of a collision. In rollover tests performed by
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the RX-8 achieved an impressive
five-star rating.

Mazda engineers integrated numerous active and passive safety elements throughout
the car. Active safety features, which require input from the driver, include the use of large
ABS-equipped disc brakes on all wheels as well as precise steering and suspension systems.
Dynamic Stability Control (available on Sport models with Performance package, standard on
Touring and Grand Touring) delivers a superior level of handling that can be disabled when
driving and road conditions allow safe operation.

Passive systems, or those that take effect automatically without the driver”s
involvement, also are present throughout the RX-8. Despite the absence of a center B-pillar,
the RX-8 has an exceptionally rigid body, accomplished through the use of the vertical pillars
built in the rear doors and a series of locking pins, which hold the doors together and bind
each door directly into the roof and floor. Integrating the frame components helps dissipate
crash energy through the vehicle”s structure.

Other standard passive systems on the RX-8 include front airbags, seat-mounted sideimpact
airbags and side-curtain airbags. Additionally, the front end and engine bay have
ample crumple zones, the front seats are designed to reduce whiplash injuries, the brake
pedal is designed to break away in the event of a collision of sufficient force to protect feet
and legs and all four seating positions are fitted with three-point seatbelts. Even pedestrian
protection was considered, as the RX-8 is fitted with Mazda”s “shock-cone” hood design that
yields more to the impact of a pedestrian onto the hood than a standard design, yet is strong
enough to not deform in normal use.


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