A 141kW five-speed RX-8 derivative is now on sale in South Africa for R299 590.
As is the case with the six-speed model, this newcomer features the award-winning RENESS rotary engine which is extremely compact.
One of the many secrets of its success is the fact that this powerplant is mounted low and to the rear of the vehicle, in what Mazda calls an "advanced front midship layout".
This twin rotar engine employs side intake and exhaust parts, and features approximately 30% more intake area than previous rotary engines, realising greatly reduced intake-flow resistance.
The 141 kW at 7 000 r/min is slightly reduced from the six-speed's 170 kW at 8 200 r/min.
The 141 kW motor actually boasts better torque than the 170 kW unit - the former offers 220 Nm at just 5 000 r/min (versus 211 Nm at 5 500 r/min in the six-speed RX-8 model).
Thanks to its centrally located fuel tank, this new RX-8 boasts good weight distribution, and a five percent reduction in yaw inertia - all of which produce precise and controlled handling.
The five-speed gearbox's carefully chosen gear ratios offer a good balance between performance and fuel economy. It has a fast short throw for crisp sporty shifting, made all the smoother and lighter by linked triple cone synchronisers for first, second and third gears.
The RX-8 comes equipped with four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Large diameter ventilated disk brakes in the front, and a single 10-inch booster assures a high servo limit.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) combines the functions of four-wheel ABS and traction control, exercising command over engine power output as well and offering optimal brake control on all four wheels.
Passive safety measures include the incorporation of airbags and seatbelts. Both the passenger and rear seats have curtain airbags.
The only notable exterior differences between the two models are the wheels - 16-inch, in the case of the five-speed, versus the six-speed model's 18-inch wheels.
The Mazda RX-8 has a 3-year/100 000km warranty period, 10 000 km's or 12 months service intervals, 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan and a 24 hour / 7 days a week roadside assistance programme as standard.
CLICK HERE to read John Oxley's road test of the 170kW RX-8