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Mazda kills RX-8 off

"We knew it was going to come to an end at some point, but our plan is that the RX-8 will still continue in our lineup until 2012"

As Carsguide reported two weeks ago, production will end soon and the final cars are likely to drive out of local showrooms by the middle of next year.

Mazda has a farewell edition of the RX-8 in Japan, called the Spirit R, and it's now being assessed as a potential sign-off special in Australia.

But the end of sales in the USA and falling demand in Japan, with Europe also out of the action, means the end was inevitable.

"We knew it was going to come to an end at some point, but our plan is that the RX-8 will still continue in our lineup until 2012," says Steve Maciver, spokesman for Mazda Australia.

"Production in Japan continues until June next year. As it is, there is a limited-edition car on the agenda and we're looking at it. Japan decided they wanted to end on high.

"But we haven't made a decision on whether we will take it. So watch this space." The RX-8 Spirit R is only a cosmetic tweak, with red-painted brake calipers, Recaro sports seats and 19-inch alloys on the manual model, with the automatic picking up red highlights in the cabin, sports suspension and 18-inch alloys.

Only three colours are available - silver, black and white - and production has been pegged at 1000 cars. For now, Mazda Australia says it expects to be able to satisfy RX-8 fans with the cars it has in Australia and a limited number to come from Japan. "We've got stock for about three or four months, at the current selling rate," says Maciver.

Even though the RX-8 is the only major Mazda model now using a rotary engine the company refuses to give up on the unique powerplant. It is still working on a hydrogen version in Japan and is chasing the future efficiency that would be needed to meet strict new CO2 emission standards around the world.

"Development of next-generation rotary engines continues and it's still definitely on the agenda for us. We believe rotary is still something we want to develop as a company. We do still see potential for it in the future. We have to extract better performance and fuel efficiency and that's what the guys are working on," says Maciver.