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Mazda rolls on limited edition rotary

Mazda celebrates its 40th with the release of 200 RX-8 Anniversary model.

Only 200 examples of the RX-8 Anniversary model, priced at $55,840, are being brought to Australia.

Mazda launched its rotary engine in 1967, the engine gaining recognition mainly in the R100, RX-3 and succession of RX-7 models until 1998. The rotary engine, and the RX sports-car prefix, reappeared in 2003 when the RX-8 was launched.

The RX-8 has had good success, winning a string of car awards globally, including the Wheels magazine Car of the Year. It is notable due to its pair of smaller rear doors allowing access for rear passengers, yet maintaining a two-door sports coupe style.

The Anniversary edition comes with the 170kW version of the high-revving Renesis rotary engine, which also generates 211Nm of torque and feeds its power to a six-speed manual transmission. It has a unique leather and Alcantara-trimmed interior with leather cladding on steering wheel, handbrake lever and gearshift. It gets Bilstein shockers and a special suspension cross member to aid handling.

The Anniversary RX-8 wears high-gloss 18in alloy wheels, a special rear spoiler, sunroof and blue reflector fog lights. The standard RX-8 (from $48,990) has a premium Bose sound system, traction control, stability control, six airbags and climate-control airconditioning.

Mazda also has confirmed it has developed a 2009 RX-8 with “a refreshed exterior and interior” design and offering an R3 sport package for enthusiasts.

Mazda claims the RX-8 now is the only mass-produced passenger car powered by a rotary engine.