The 2012 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R

Mazda extends production of the final RX-8 by 1,000 units

The Mazda RX-8 has failed to live up to the high performance reputation of the RX-7 but since announcing that the RX-8 would end its production run this year with a special edition model – the company has received so much interest in the last of this generation of the rotary powered sports car that they have extended the production run by 1,000 units.

Mazda announced in October of 2011 that the RX-8 sports car would be terminated after the 2012 model year but to commemorate the final year of the RX-8, the company introduced the special, limited edition Spirit R version. There were initially supposed to be 1,000 examples of the 2012 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R but due to the high volume of orders for the last of the RX-8 models – Mazda will extend production through June as they build an additional 1,000 units of the rotary powered sports car.

The 2012 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R is powered by a water cooled, two rotor Renesis 1.3L Wankel rotary engine that sends 232 horsepower and 159lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels by means of a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed Activematic auto transmission – although those RX-8 models fitted with the manual transmission get more goodies via the final edition package. The Spirit R models with the manual transmission benefit from “hard” suspension with Bilstein dampers, 19” forged aluminum bronze 19” rims wrapped in high performance tires, unique aero components, Recaro bucket seats finished in black and red leather, a red and black leather shift knob and a set of aluminum pedals. RX-8 Spirit R models with the automatic transmission comes with standard heated leather bucket seats (rather than Recaros), a less rigid sport suspension package, and 18” alloy wheels in place of the bronze 19” wheels on the manually shifted models.

All 2012 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R models, whether fitted with the manual or automatic transmission, include larger brake rotors with enlarged calipers, an advanced stability and traction control system, loads of leather trim inside (steering wheel, parking brake handle, front and rear center console), unique badging and headlights, taillights and fog lights. The RX-8 Spirit R edition is shown on the right in manual transmission trim and these special edition models are available in Aluminum Metallic (shown on the right), Sparkling Black Mica, and Crystal White Pearl Mica.

So far, among the frenzy of orders for the 2012 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R, manual transmission versions have accounted for over two thirds of the orders and when you consider the number of goodies included in the manually shifted models plus the added fun-to-drive factor with the clutch pedal over the automatic.

The 2013 Mazda RX-8 Spirit R carries a price in manual transmission form of 3,250,000 Japanese Yen (around $41,000 US dollars) or 3,120,000 Yen ($39k) for the automatic version. Unfortunately, the initial 1,000 examples were only available in the Japanese market and based on the poor sales of the RX-8 in the US – there is a good chance that we aren’t likely to see the Spirit R in American Mazda showrooms before production ends in June.