Mazda's sporty RX-8 has reached the end of the line. The automaker recently announced it would be ceasing production of its rotary-powered four-door sports car, leaving interested buyers to pick from remaining 2011 models in dealer inventory.
For many industry observers, the RX-8's cancellation comes as no surprise. While the sports car's rotary powerplant - used instead of a piston engine found in all other cars - was a unique and novel design, its poor fuel efficiency and heavy oil consumption turned off all but serious enthusiasts.
Additionally, the RX-8's aging design - which debuted for 2004 - meant totally new styling would be needed to turn slumping sales around. Through the end of July, Mazda recorded just 544 sales of the four-door coupe in 2011, a decline of more than 20 percent compared to the same period in 2010. In July, Mazda sold just 65 RX-8s in the United States.
But if you're interested in a brand-new RX-8, you should have no trouble finding the one you want, despite the car's removal from production. AutoTrader.com listings show more than 200 new RX-8s still on dealer lots, likely representing more than three months of sales.
Freshened inside and out for 2009, the RX-8 now features 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission choices. Manual RX-8s offer 232 horsepower, while automatic models produce just 212. Standard features include side curtain airbags, remote keyless entry, a CD player with iPod connection, 18-inch alloy wheels and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, while options include an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, heated leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers and a navigation system.
While Mazda has used the unusual rotary engine in several sports cars throughout its history, all other automakers have stayed away from the technology in favor of traditional piston engines. Prior to the RX-8's debut, Mazda's last rotary-powered vehicle was the high-performance RX-7, which left the market after the 1995 model year.