Mazda has revealed that it will cease producing the four-door, four-seat rotary engine R8 sports car by June 2012, but not without a bang. To mark the end of the RX-8's production run, though, Mazda will release a final special edition version of the car which will be known as the RX-8 Spirit R.
According to Mazda, the RX-8 Spirit R will be based on the six-speed, manual transmission-equipped RX-8 Type RS and the six-speed, electronically-controlled automatic transmission Type E variants.
Named after the final limited edition RX-7, the RX-8 Spirit R's pedigree is reflected in its features like the exclusive seat design and colored alloy wheels. The curtain and front side SRS airbag system, which is available as a factory-installed option on the base models, will also be offered as standard equipment on the RX-8 Spirit R.
With the demise of the RX-8, what will happen to the rotary engine that Mazda has been producing since the 1970s?
"Mazda's iconic rotary engine recorded its famous victory in the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race 20 years ago. Throughout 2011, we have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of that victory by demonstrating the winning 787B racecar at Le Mans' Circuit de La Sarthe and various other events around the world. At each one, the screaming rotary engine and the sight of the 787B have enthralled everyone from young children to race fans who witnessed its victory in 1991. These events have been a powerful reminder of the widespread passion for the rotary engine. Although RX-8 production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirit of Mazda and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development," said Mazda president and chief executive, Takashi Yamanouchi.
Mazda expects to sell around 1,000 units of the RX-8 Spirit R.