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Why Mazda Was Forced To Discontinue The RX-8
Ever since the RX-8 went on sale in 2003, it enjoyed success — selling in high numbers its first year off production and winning the coveted “RJC Car of the Year” award in Japan, making Mazda its winner two years in a row. So, how did a multi-award-winning vehicle fail to surpass its predecessor, the RX-7, abruptly ending the iconic lineup after just one generation?
One of the biggest contributors that forced Mazda to discontinue the car in 2011 was the RX-8’s failure to comply with Europe's tightening emission standards at the time, which negatively impacted its sales in the region. The car’s rotary Wankel engine was notorious for not only bad emissions but also wasteful fuel consumption and inconsistent performance.
Mazda hasn’t given up on its rotary engine sports car lineup, however, and unveiled in 2015 its RX-Vision concept car aimed at improving the overall quality of its established RX range. Its next-generation SKYACTIV-R rotary engine is said to address the infamous fuel economy, performance, emissions and reliability issues that plagued its older models.
Also, Mazda's not waiving the white flag on the RX-8 engine either, with the company revealing that its 13B rotary engine continued production in 2021 for use as spare parts. For a company whose legacy was built on defying norms with its unconventional rotary engines, it's difficult to give up on something instrumental to its “zoom-zoom” identity.