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Rotary Rivalry

Mention “rotary” and the first thing that comes to mind is the RX7 and its unique Wankel Rotary 1.3 litre engine which generates the power of an engine twice its size. Yes the following RX8 does share the share rotary engine but you’d get the feeling that it never really made the same impact as the RX7.

If you do buy a car like how you’d buy a suit, what you’d look for is good looks and in this case no one would disagree that on that front, neither is disappointing. Personally however, the RX7 and the RX8 may come from the same manufacturer, share similar engines but both have two very separate personas.

On one hand you have the RX7, whose brash looks gives you a sense that it would very unlikely be driven by a man who drinks tea with his pinky sticking out or by a fat bloke who could barely see beneath his belly; no, this car then seems more likely for the guy with a Mohawk, the one in shorts and fancy driving shoes all the time.

The RX8 however, seems more civilised, more discreet and subtle, more purposeful but that’s the thing about it. As it got a little more sensible, you get the feeling that it has lost that brashness, that raw presence of power and brute force. Something that we all look for in an out and out sport scar and with the RX8, it just isn’t there. It is however a friendlier car to drive; and you don’t have to worry too much about it biting back if your driving skills let you down.

We may go on and on bickering about the pros and cons about these two engineering marvels but all in all, these front-engine, rear wheel drive masterpieces are nothing short of a handful of joy to experience.

Mazda RX7
The Mazda RX7 brand has been around for over 30 years now, and the peak, the flagship of this ever so successful franchise has got to be the third generation FD. It was adored by many and demanded by even right from the get go.

The RX7 doesn’t just make an impact; it slaps it in your face. Anyone from a petrolhead to the lady who sells fish at your local market, from the dullest of white collar personnel to the old man who treats weird diseases, everyone who has ever came in contact with an RX7 would undoubtedly agree that its nothing but 14 feet of sheer beauty.

The RX7 is an organic sensation, with all those curves its more beautiful than watching a size 3 model parading down the runway. And the masses aren’t the only ones that would agree; even the cynical Jeremy Clarkson of the world famous BBC motoring show Top Gear agreed that it’s pure pornography and likened it to and E-Type Jag.

There are particular drawbacks however, the interior seemed like it was designed for a less than average height person and the backseats if they had them, was made for people with no legs. But despite all of that, it was the engineering side of things that mattered to the “sifus” of rotary, those who knew it in and out, those who appreciated all things rotary.

Its twin-turbocharged engine was nothing short of revolutionary, and with revs climbing all the way up to 9,000 rpm, it easily chucks out close to 300 horsepower in some higher range models. And speaking the special edition models of the RX7, here’s one ultra-rare example, the Bathurst Edition. This model was released as a road-going version of the of the factory race cars used in the 12hr endurance races held at Bathurst, New South Wales.

Changes from the standard model included a race developed carbon fibre nose cone and rear spoiler, a much larger fuel tank which was comforting considering the consumption rate of these rotary motors. It also had larger brake rotors and calipers, an improved intercooler, exhaust system, and race tuned ECU as well. Excess weight was shed significantly using lighter parts and carbon fiber bits and this contributed to a significant weight loss.

This RX7 we have here may have undergone certain changes but it is in essence the same race car for the road. Minor modifications in the engine bay include a less restrictive air filter system, an oversized HKS Super SQV blow off valve and a free flowing exhaust system which not only unleashes a few more horsies but gives the RX7 a roar so thunderous not even the men of “300” could match.

Larger wheels and low profile tires gives the car a little flair and edge over the others while the simple yet functional cockpit does not distract the driver too much from one purpose, driving. The clean lines of the exterior are unspoiled by fake aerodynamic bits, unlike some overly done up examples. The RX7 then is a marvel in the motoring world; everything you’d want in a sports car; power, precision and handling. Simply sublime.

Hyperfacts!
Car: Mazda RX7 FD
Engine Modifications: HKS Blow Off Valve Super SQV

Mazda RX8
The skeptics have said their word, they’ve left their remarks. Some may not be so pleasant but some were extremely positive.

There’s no doubt that it’s a pretty car this one. Looking at it from different angles, it just seems right. Every line, every curve is soothing to the eye, there aren’t any unnecessary bulges, uncanny shapes or edges which would make a passer-by stare and wonder if the designer was a 5-year old drawing with crayons. No, there was none of that.

The naughty problem with coupés is that, when you get one, you get limited space at the back sometimes none at all, a boot so small it’s almost non-existent or non-visible if you will and more often than not your preciously-earned Ringgits are going to the looks. What you get from the RX8 is a little different, first impressions of that it’s a coupe is instantly flushed down when the camouflaged rear door open the other way, suicide style.

Practicality wise, this car has already scored another plus. Under the bonnet, like all the other RX range models, it’s powered by a 1.3-litre Wankel rotary motor. But unlike its fire-breathing twin-turbocharged predecessor, the FD, the RX8 is naturally-aspirated. Producing a little over 200 horsepower, it seemed like it was always going to play second fiddle to its elder sibling. But nonetheless, it’s still mighty impressive considering engine is only as big as your lawnmower.
The performance on this RX8 though, is not too be fooled with as it does pack a little bit more punch under the hood. It now has a freer flowing carbon fiber air filter box with RE Header and RE Dolphine exhaust system which brings out the roar from the motor as it effortlessly makes its way all the way up to the rev limit which in this car is close to 9,000rpm. A remapped ECU would have also helped its miniscule power figure’s cause.

Despite its near perfect weight distribution, GAB adjustables and a tower brace further improves the all-round handling, allowing this four-seater, four door coupe to be more forgiving when the driver occasionally lets himself down around the swooping bends. The interior is purposeful without being too loud about itself but additions like KS carbon gauge pod holding on to Blitz meters and a Pivot voltage stabiliser just adds a sense of eagerness to drive harder.
On the outside, a carbon fiber hood, CIM carbon side fenders along with the rotary-shaped brake light and front rotary accent sort tells you that this car merely packed with the tinsel o fake high performance but in this particular RX8, you could just be fooled.

Like that nursery rhyme that went, “7, 8, Lay them straight”, I’d say bring back the twin-turbochargers, anytime!

Hyperfacts!
Car: Mazda RX8
Engine Modifications: Sanai Works Cooling Tank, Battery Relocation Kit, RE oil catch tank, RE carbon fiber air filter box, K&N air filter, RE Header, RE Dolphine exhaust, Remapped ECU
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Chassis/Suspension: GAB Adjustables, AutoExe Member, Tower Brace
Wheels & Tires: 18″ SSR Rims Type C
Interior: KS carbon gauge pod & Blitz Meters, Pivot voltage stabiliser
Exterior: CF Hood, CIM Carbon Side Fenders, Rotary shaped brake light & front rotary accent

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