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Mazda's stove-hot RX-8 'just for fun'

Points of difference: The RX-8 concept stands apart from the "cooking" model via its Mazdaspeed nose with integrated spoiler and gaping air intake, as well as a large adjustable rear wing.

Mazda unveils the first phase of its 'extreme car' program

13 Oct 2004

MAZDA Australia has remained true to its word in building its own stove-hot RX-8 super car as a one-off show special and insisting – for now – the turbocharged Motorsport Concept unveiled in Sydney last week was just “for fun”.

As GoAuto revealed in an interview with Mazda Australia boss Doug Dickson in July, the company’s resident motorsport guru Allan Horsley has been working on such a concept for several months now – and a limited production run would be considered if there was a strong enough response.

But on the Mazda stand at the Australian International Motor Show, Mr Horsley was adamant the RX-8 turbo was produced purely to "show what we can do", with no intention to offer even a handful for sale.

"We certainly wouldn’t build 20 to go racing, but we will build another one in a couple of weeks. It’s not that difficult to do things on a one-off basis, but it becomes more complicated to do volumes as you have to offer parts and service back-up," he said.

Nonetheless, Mazda Australia isn’t averse to head office picking up the ball and running with it – as it belatedly did with the MX-5 SE, which was inspired by the Horsley-built MX-5 SP turbo circa 2002.

"We’re not going to hide what we’ve done, the technology is freely available," Mr Horsley said. "We’d be delighted if Japan picked up the idea." Competitive action was also not out of the question, he said.

"We’re talking to some people at Targa Tasmania and we feel it could be an outright contender there. GM-H set the standard with a car (7.0-litre Monaro) that essentially isn’t in production," Mr Horsley said.

Mr Dickson added that the RX-8 concept was the first phase of an "extreme car" program.

22 center image"The idea of this program is to challenge our corporate imagination and in this case we have developed a faster, more aggressive, motorsport version of the RX-8," Mr Dickson said.

"The idea behind ‘extreme cars’ is not just added acceleration and all that goes with that formula. An idea could involve any present Mazda model. We have, for example, discussed an extreme B Series that would showcase its comfort, refinement and off-road ability."The RX-8 Motorsport Concept’s Renesis rotary engine is equipped with a water-cooled Garret turbocharger (running 7.5psi of boost pressure) and a large air-to-air intercooler. The engine is expected to develop about 270kW and 350Nm when fully sorted.

Mazda says using a relatively small and low-boost turbo ensures good throttle response and preserves the rotary’s free-revving character. Compression ratio and redline are unaffected, allowing the engine to spin to 9000rpm.

A larger, free-breathing exhaust system ensures maximum power gain while a new muffler also aids breathing and delivers a throatier, more purposeful exhaust note, according to Mazda.

Braking is by an Alcon six piston racing system comprising 335mm vented and grooved discs. Other mechanical upgrades include a smaller but more powerful battery and a larger core radiator.

Visually, the RX-8 concept stands apart from the "cooking" model via its Mazdaspeed nose with integrated spoiler and gaping air intake, as well as a large adjustable rear wing.

Added attention-grabbers are the Velocity Red mica metallic paint and white "GT stripes" along the car’s flanks. Bonnet flutes further hint at the car’s added performance and aid in cooling the engine and turbo.

It rides on white-painted, 19x8-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/35 tyres at the front and chunky 255/35s at the rear to help relay the added grunt to the tarmac. Mazda says the car’s revised suspension, which drops ride height by 25mm, reduces body roll and sharpens steering response.

As for how much the conversion costs, no one at Mazda is saying.

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