Mazda’s facelifted RX-8 arrived at the Detroit Motor Show, and it’s more of a mild nip and tuck than a drastic overhaul. Mazda hasn’t suddenly dropped in a V6 or anything like that – so far over 165,000 rotary-engined RX-8s have been sold and Mazda doesn’t want to mess with a recipe that works. That means it’s still a four-door, four seater with 'Freestyle' (suicide to you and me) doors, and a unchanged 1.3-litre turbine engine available in 189bhp and 228bhp states of tune.
But while the engine hasn’t changed Mazda has been busy fettling the chassis. There’s a new trapezoid front strut bar, new rear suspension geometry and a more rigid driveshaft. The USA wll also get a new R3 sport package (pictured), though Mazda UK has yet to confirm whether it's coming to this side of the Pond. The R3 pack features tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, 19-inch wheels, a bodykit consisting of new front and rear spoilers and side sills, 300-watt stereo and some part-leather Recaros.
RX-8: the new look
All cars, including the R3-equipped RX-8s, get restyled front and rear bumpers, a new finish for the lights, and larger diameter exhaust pipes. Inside the rev counter now has a red-zone that only fades when the engine is at operating temperature. There’s also a new steering wheel while the four seats have been redesigned to provide extra comfort, and the backrests of the front seats have also been changed to provide extra legroom for those in the rear.
The revised RX-8 lands in UK dealers mid-year, with prices scarcely changing over today's model. British dealers sell around 4000 a year - down from a high of 10,000 in the RX's first year on sale.
They say: The RX-8 is refreshed to keep it on top
We say: Where's the technical innovation? The RX-8 remains a fascinating fringe player
CAR verdict: 3/5