RX-8 A Revolution In Sports Car Technology | Part Two

Mazda RX-8


The heart of the new Mazda RX-8 is a newly developed rotary engine, RENESIS. The name itself represents "rotary engine (RE) genesis" and is symbolic of RENESIS’s revolutionary rotary technology that combines high levels of performance potential, with acceptable fuel consumption and low emissions.

RENESIS is a water-cooled, twin-rotor engine with two chambers, each with 654 cm³ of displacement volume that will be offered in two power versions. The entry model will produce 192ps of power at 7,000 rpm, with maximum torque of 220 Nm achieved at 5,000 rpm. The flagship model produces 231ps at 8,200 rpm and achieves maximum torque of 211 Nm at 5,500 rpm. The 192ps model accelerates to 62mph in 7,2 seconds continuing to a top speed of 139mph. The 231ps model sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds, racing on to a top speed of 146mph.

A newly developed chassis system, with a new double-wishbone front suspension and a newly developed multi-link rear suspension, gives the Mazda RX-8 excellent on-road characteristics. The compact size of Mazda RX-8’s RENESIS engine allowed engineers to place it further back towards the centre of the vehicle than a conventional engine, in a front-midship layout. This allowed for an ideal 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles, which makes a significant contribution to the driving dynamics of the new Mazda RX-8.

Mazda RX-8’s chassis system is outstanding in all driving situations. It is flawless in the straight-ahead position, remains neutral when taking curves fast, and only when challenged does it display a subtle, typically sports car oversteer. Mazda RX-8’s electric power-assisted steering means the car responds precisely to even the smallest driver inputs, and allows the car to take load changes in stride. Simply put, the new Mazda RX-8 is fun to drive anytime, but especially when it’s driven like a sports car.

The new Mazda RX-8 fulfils all the basic requirements of a modern sports car with front engine/rear-wheel drive layout and a design that reflects the sporty nature of this car. Mazda RX-8 exhibits its performance potential optically with short overhangs, a striking bumper design and an eye-catching bonnet shape. The compact size of RENESIS, and its front-midship placement, enabled designers to place the A-pillar springing point further towards the front of the car, and to give it a flatter incline. This places the optical centre of the vehicle’s mass more towards the back of the car, giving Mazda RX-8 a sleek athletic tension.

The new Mazda RX-8 has four doors in a centre-opening configuration. This "Freestyle" door system means the Mazda RX-8 has no B-pillar, with the rear doors hinged at the back of the car, and provides a wide door opening for ease of access and egress. The front doors open at a maximum angle of 67 degrees, the rear doors 80 degrees, making getting in and out of the Mazda RX-8 easier than a traditional two-door sports car. The rear doors can only be opened when the front doors are open, making Mazda RX-8’s Freestyle door system completely safe.

continues... | Part Three
Published 29 July 2003 Melanie Carter

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