It was a car in a class of one, and now it becomes a class of zero: Mazda has officially canceled the RX-8 after sales of the sports car have plummeted in the years following its release.
The RX-8, which was released in 2003, was the only rotary-powered car on the market between 2003 and its demise this week. Using a 1.3-liter, twin-rotor Renesis engine, it produced 232 hp and had rear-wheel drive, which made it a joy to drive back when we first tested it.
The car was, admittedly a little bit of a trade-off: it had more than enough power and low weight, but it required plenty of revs, had comparatively low torque figures, and gained a reputation for drinking fuel quickly and burning oil. Still, Mazda sold 23,690 in 2004 alone.
As years went on these figures dropped – last year, sales were down by nearly one-half to 1,134 units.
With upcoming European emissions regulations strangling the rotary engine (it’s no longer sold there, either) and Mazda’s new focus being its SkyActiv fuel-efficient engines, it looks like the RX-8, and its rotary heart, are gone.
Gone, that is, for a little while. Keen watchers will remember that the RX-7’s demise in 1995 was followed with the RX-8’s debut in 2003, and Automotive News reports that there still may be plans for a 1.6-liter rotary engine, codenamed 16X, to be slotted into an upcoming car.
Source: Automotive News