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Six here early as Mazda preps fresh RX-8

Old meets new: Anniversary RX-8 and Mazda's first rotary, the Cosmo Sport.

New Mazda6 to arrive sooner than expected, as special RX-8 previews mid-year facelift

11 Dec 2007

IT WON’T quite make it on sale here during the actual 40th anniversary year of Mazda’s first rotary, as planned, but Australia will still be the only market outside Japan to be graced by Mazda’s special RX-8 “Rotary Engine 40th Anniversary” coupe when it arrives here in January.

Presented at the Frankfurt show in September, the sharper RX-8 features a number of chassis and cosmetic revisions that are likely to form the basis of next year’s mid-life facelift for the 4.5-year-old RX-8, and will kick off a bumper year of new model launches for Mazda in 2008.

Fresh from last week's launch of its first seven-seat SUV in the CX-9, which effectively kills any chance of the Mazda5 people-mover becoming a belated Premacy replacement any time soon, Mazda has confirmed the arrival of just 200 examples of the limited-edition four-door sports car will be immediately followed by earlier than expected first shipments of the all-new Mazda6.

While the anniversary-edition RX-8 was to have arrived in December, yet another month has been shaved off the waiting time for the all-new Mazda6 range, following confirmation that first shipments of the redesigned mid-sizer will now land in February.

The new Mazda6 was originally not expected on sale before April and replaces a model that will post its second best year of sales in 2007.

“We’re very keen to get our hands on the new Mazda6 and we were delighted to find recently that we’ve had some early shipping and we’re actually going to have saleable quantities in Australia in late February,” said Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson.

“It’s had nothing but glowing reports from overseas and we know that it will once again hit the mark with our medium car buyers.”

22 center imageGlobally, Mazda has also announced it will release 12 new or facelifted models within the next two years. Accounting for at least another one of them will be a model realignment and upgrade for the volume-selling Mazda3 sedan/hatch range.

“We’ve got a few plans for our award-winning Mazda3 and they’ll be designed to further bolster its appeal in the marketplace, although whether it actually needs it or not, I’m not sure,” said Mr Dickson.

A three-month new-model hiatus – and RX-8 production shutdown – will be broken in June when Mazda’s facelifted RX-8 hits Australia.

Mazda remains tight-lipped about exactly what constitutes the first facelift for its rotary-powered model since it was launched here in June 2003. GoAuto has learned there will be some mechanical differences, but power and torque outputs will remain unchanged.

It’s likely the 13B rotary engine of the revised RX-8, which enters production in April, will continue with the anniversary-edition’s “rotors that have been finely balanced for their weight and rotation characteristics”. Also featuring a special engine cover, Mazda claims “the smooth performance of the rotary engine has been further enhanced”.

For further clues to the 2008 facelift, look again to January’s special-edition, which commemorates 40 years of Mazda rotary-engined vehicles sold globally, starting with the Cosmo Sport released in Japan on May 30, 1967 - the world's first twin-rotor rotary-engined car.

To be available with both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, the 40th anniversary RX-8 rides on exclusive Bilstein dampers and a urethane foam-filled front suspension cross-member, which is claimed to improve ride quality and handling.

The LE’s interior harks back to the Cosmo Sport by comprising specific black leather and light silver Alcantara fake suede seat trim, while the Marble White exterior paint is also unique. Larger brake discs and special 18-inch alloys with 225/45-section tyres come standard on the manual in Japan.

What’s coming from Mazda:

CX-9 – December
RX-8 anniversary edition – January
Mazda6 redesign – Late February
RX-8 facelift – June
Mazda3 facelift - 2008

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