I remember my brief (and first) encounter with a rx8 and recall being bewildered by its suicide doors.
The car in question, a black first generation (S1 for petrolhead nomenclature) was a bit mundane compared to it's portrayal in NFS most wanted and the blue veilside kitted rx8 from Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift. The bubbly proportions and design language did not immediately make sense, almost as if each nook and cranny of the car contrasted each other, and the car certainly did not make sense if it was parked next to an rx7. Die-hard rotary fans were quick to disown the happy go lucky, rear wheel drive, new age sports car bearing Mazda and Dr. Felix Wankel's legacy (no, not the legacy with the German dictator with a knack for painting) and understandably so, as the party piece for any Mazda, the new 13B Renesis rotary engine parted ways with the twin scroll turbochargers that made the previous generation RX7 so intoxicating all the way to redline (recommended on rotary cars to keep the carbon build up away). To be fair, Rotaries are rev happy, and it's peppy nature makes it just as joyful without the need for forced induction.
Enter, the second generation (S2) RX8. The entire car went on a high calorie diet, comprised of protein shakes and bench presses. Subtle changes redefined the entire car both inside and out. The front bumper, now more elongated and buffed up to match the fenders. Every nook and cranny complimented each other. Headlights and tail lights took a crash course on "zoom-zoom" (Mazda's then design language) as did every other crevices on the car. The "facelift" RX8 (if you will) suddenly didn't look like the confused teenager with no aim in life that the pre facelift RX8 manifestly was on the surface, albeit, everything wrong with the exterior of the previous gen was instantly exfoliated with the Mazdaspeed kit. Just look at img_8098, like an animated Batmobile with its flared arches and menacing stance. It's like that friend you have who's an entirely different person the instant they take their glasses off, and in turn transforms into a Japanese geisha. With a katana. One fun easter egg I play every time I see an rx8 on the road is to count the number of triangles that loosely resemble the structure of a rotary engine, and they're camouflaged both on the exterior and interior.
Farasat Waez struck gold (more on that later) when a trip to car house in search of a manual GT86 made him leave the dealership with keys to a 2012 Sparkling Black Mica RX8 "Spirit R", a badge crowned by the rotary gods to the most coveted, buffed up Mazda's to leave the factory. four out of a thousand Japan only Spirit R units made their way to our port, as did a myriad of base model units since importers realized the 1300 cc displacement loopholed its way out of our rigid import tax structures. If you google RX8 right now, you're bound to see one with Bangladeshi rego plates. That's how much the local scene love it. Although they're the butt of "7K" swapped jokes more often than it should get credit for.
The RX8 Spirit R is therefore a plaque, to celebrate the gamble Mazda took in 1967 and the demise of the RX8's production. It is therefore, a lightened, souped up Torch to carry Mazda's legacy. The ultimate rotary swansong came with a 6 speed manual transmission, 4 piston Brembos all around, a reworked engine with an output of 238 hp, the highest for any RX8 to leave the factory. In addition to a torque vectoring LSD, bespoke track ready Bilstein suspension made the forged exclusive to the spirit R 19" BBS bronze aluminum alloys even more special. Farasat really struck gold and he loves Rotary ownership thus far. He's an advocate for the unmistakable sound of the Rotary. Quiet as a mouse at low revs, while packing firepower (read 'decibels') to raise the dead high in the rev range. The handling is amazing thanks to the host of performance upgrades from factory. While Rotary maintenance is a sore topic, the owner tells me Rotary maintenance is all about patience. The crucial warming up after a cold start, letting it sit idle following a spirited drive, changing the oil every 1000 km makes all the difference while keeping rotary woes at bay. The same way a baby needs a mother. Just like with any car really. While Farasat enjoys his Spirit R the way it was meant to be from factory; Bone stock, he wishes to upgrade the brakes and itches for an exhaust.
Words and photos: Ahbar Milky