Mazda RX-8 spirit lives on

Mazda will double its final production run of the Japan-only Mazda RX-8 Spirit R limited edition to commemorate the car's nine years of service coming to an end in June.
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The rotary-engined RX-8 Spirit R features bigger brakes, red calipers, leather-wrapped steering wheel, hand brake lever and shift-knob, and piano-black trim highlights on the transmission tunnel.

Mazda says 66 per cent of orders have been for the manual transmission model, which includes Recaro bucket seats, firmer suspension with Bilstein dampers, aluminium pedals and bronze 19-inch forged aluminium wheels.

Those who enjoy self-shifting gearboxes get a unique set-up with heated black leather power seats with memory function, sports suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The Mazda RX-8 was first sold in 2003 but in recent years sales have been steadily declining. Mazda Australia sold just 78 units in 2011.

Mazda had two factory-backed turbocharged RX-8 SPs, a Mazda3 MPS and a Mazda2 all competing in this year's recently completed Targa Tasmania. Matt Rickards and Bernie Webb recovered from a crash in their RX-8 SP to finish 21st in the Modern category while the sister RX-8 SP of Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth was forced to drop out due to an electrical failure.

The Mazda3 MPS of Simon and Sue Evans secured the Australian Targa Championship for the Showroom class and Mazda's fifth consecutive Showroom title at Targa Tasmania, finishing more than 26 minutes clear of the field.

Andrew Maclean and Rod Black finished fifth in the same category in their Mazda2.

Click here to read CarAdvice's review of the Mazda RX-8.