Mazda to release limited edition driver-focused RX-8 PZ
By Mike Hanlon
May 8, 2006
May 9, 2006 Mazda is set to introduce an even more ‘focused’ version of its highest performance, four-door, sports coupe. On sale in the UK from 1 July it will be called the ‘Mazda RX-8 PZ’. Based on the 231ps high-power version of Mazda RX-8 with leather trim, the PZ has been further developed by Mazda jointly with leading motorsport company Prodrive, and specialist component suppliers Bilstein, Eibach and OZ Racing. Mazda’s brief to Prodrive was to build on the attributes of the RX-8 and create a special model that delivers greater driver involvement and an even more rewarding motoring experience, with enhanced ride and handling, while staying true to the original concept and without compromising the car’s passenger comfort as a unique four-seater sports car. Ensuring a touch of exclusivity, just 800 examples of the Mazda RX-8 PZ will be available, priced at UKP 25,995 on-the-road with an insurance rating of 17E compared to 16E for the standard RX-8 231ps model.
Distinguishing features include a choice of two colours Brilliant Black (solid) or Galaxy Grey (metallic), unique 18-inch OZ alloy wheels, rear silencer and aerodynamic rear spoiler, lowered suspension, sporty door mirrors, grille mesh inserts on front and rear bumpers as well as ‘PZ’ and 'Prodrive' badging. Additionally, inside RX-8 PZ features the black leather seat trim, plus black leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and hand_brake lever that features as standard on all RX-8 231ps models. While the PZ certainly looks sophisticated and different from regular RX-8s, the changes and components that deliver the ‘greater driver involvement’ lie beneath the car’s stylish exterior. Bespoke suspension settings were developed by Prodrive during extensive testing of the prototype car at its Warwick test centre, the MIRA proving ground and on selected public roads, including challenging A and B roads as well as motorways. The final specification derived by Prodrive for the Mazda RX-8 PZ sees the ride height lowered by 15mm all round, while the car is equipped with top-quality components from three companies at the leading edge of world-class motorsport. To reduce roll and pitch, and achieve an even flatter cornering attitude, special Bilstein dampers and Eibach coil springs, made to Prodrive specifications, are fitted. The spring rates are increased by over 60 per cent, while the specially tuned gas-filled mono-tube dampers give tighter body control, yet maintain good compliance over ridges and bumps in the road. The front bump stop is changed for a new Bilstein item, (10mm shorter than standard), to achieve enhanced handling. The suspension geometry has also been revised to optimise the steering and handling. The anti-roll bars, rear bump stops and tyres are to the standard RX-8 specification to maintain rear passenger ride comfort. The RX-8 PZ is also fitted with uniquely designed 10-spoke, 18-inch diameter lightweight alloy wheels, finished in dark silver with carbon fibre centre caps, branded with Prodrive and OZ logos. The OZ Racing wheels are just one ingredient of the subtle visual makeover given to the PZ. The standard boot lid spoiler is removed and replaced with an aerodynamic spoiler developed in the MIRA wind tunnel. Specially created for the RX-8 PZ by Prodrive, the spoiler is designed to generate down-force and enhance high-speed stability, while also endowing the PZ with a more pronounced appearance. Black mesh grilles are fitted to the outer and central front air intakes and to the rear bumper vent. Lower-drag sporty door mirrors (similar to those used on the RX-8 Evolve) are also featured. Branding is applied to the front wings alongside the air vents, the rear spoiler, the twin chrome exhaust tailpipe surrounds and the wheel centres. The PZ also sounds different from other RX-8s. An upgraded rear silencer was developed to give a sportier sound inside and outside the car. In terms of acceleration and top speed, the Mazda RX-8 PZ performance matches that of the standard 231ps model, with a 0 to 62mph time of just 6.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 146mph. However, the spring, damper and aerodynamic changes result in a significantly more focused car, with greatly enhanced appeal for drivers wanting to fully exploit the car’s dynamics including better cornering ability and a more precise steering feel. The changes embodied in PZ will inspire driver confidence and make the Mazda RX-8 range even more attractive to motorists in search of a seriously capable sports car with the unique ability to take the family for an exciting drive.