Mazda's RX-8 receives minor exterior and interior updates for 2009, and the rotary-powered sports car can now be equipped with a new R3 sport package. Competitors include the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Nissan 350Z.
On the whole, the updated RX-8 looks much the same as before. It still has a longish hood, pronounced fender flares, and a cabin that has small, rear-hinged back doors to make it easier to get in the backseat.
Changes underneath the RX-8's skin include a revised rear suspension and stiffer driveshaft. The car's exhaust tips are larger for 2009, too.
The R3 sport package adds a sport suspension, a rear spoiler, side sills, a new front bumper and 19-inch aluminum wheels shod with high-performance tires.
The RX-8's cabin has room for up to four people. There are bucket seats in front and back, and a full-length center console runs the length of the cabin between both rows of seats. Those seats are redesigned for 2009, according to Mazda, and the sports car also gets a new steering wheel and a tachometer with a variable redline that moves based on engine temperature.
With the R3 sport package, the RX-8 gains a Bose audio system, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, Recaro front bucket seats and keyless start.
Under the Hood
The RX-8's 1.3-liter rotary engine produces 232 horsepower when teamed with the six-speed manual transmission, but its output drops to 212 hp when paired with the optional six-speed automatic. The automatic includes shift paddles on the steering wheel for driver-initiated gear changes.
Antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags are standard. An electronic stability system is optional.