The Mazda RX-8 is to continue in production for a little longer.
Mazda says it will make an additional 1,000 units of the limited edition Spirit R. The modifications for the new version are minimal: special badges, red brake callipers and firmer suspension are the extent of the changes. Apparently demand in Japan led to the change of heart – the RX-8 is one of the very few cars to come out of Japan that can be justifiably called "iconic".
The RX-8 was withdrawn from the UK in 2010 when it failed to meet the new Euro 5 emissions regulations, and Mazda thought it was not worth upgrading the engine for Europe. However the UK has a tradition of privately importing Japanese cars, as Japan is right hand drive like us. With so many grey import Imprezas, Legacies and Evos in this country, one of the import companies is bound to bring in a few 2012-spec RX-8 models.
For any rotary engine fans, this could be the last opportunity to indulge their passion. Mazda says it would like to build another rotary in the future (there is talk of an RX-9), but Mazda is losing a lot of money right now. Rotary engines are notoriously thirsty and, with the global requirement to reduce CO2 emissions, it may be hard to justify designing another unique engine for a low-volume sports car. There appears to be an internal battle within Mazda, with some executives saying "yes we will" and others saying "no we won't".
Mazda views the rotary engine in almost religious terms, but they are in a minority of one.The rest of the car industry regards the rotary with bemusement: it is small, light and smooth, but no-one else can see how to reduce its manic thirst for fuel.