Though the Mazda RX-8 has been a steady seller for Mazda, the sports flagship has been out for about four years now. Because of this, Mazda North America has recently tweaked the RX-8 for model year 2009. The real news though, is the addition of a new R3 sport model at the top of the line. Mazda says this new sporting variant of its sports car is aimed at the "ultimate driving enthusiast". The RX-8 R3 gets a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, 19-inch forged alloy wheels with high-performance tires, xenon headlamps and foglamps, as well as side sills and a rear spoiler. The front suspension crossmembers have also been filled with urethane for a more in-tune driving experience.
On the inside, the R3 features Recaro front bucket seats with leather side bolsters, a leather-wrapped parking brake handle, keyless entry/start, Bluetooth hands-free phone and a 300-watt Bose audio system with surround sound and noise-compensation technology. The feel of a bespoke driver’s car is apperant the moment you slip into those bucket seats and grasp that thick, three-spoke steering wheel. Oddly enough, the motor is left intact with the exeption of some shorter gearing on the six-speed manual version. The new gearing should translate to quicker accelaration, but at 237hp, it’s still about 80 ponies down on its main rival, Nissan’s 350Z. Still, no matter the numbers, the RX-8’s Wankel motor will happily spin north of 9,000 rpm’s and send a spine-tingling sound out of its dual tail pipes. Should be enough to deal with the power difference, eh?
Above: Mazda’s RX-8 stays fresh, and the R3 model keeps enthusiasts happy.