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Driven: Mazda RX-8 PZ



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This version of the RX-8 is created with Prodrive to improve driver involvement.

Just 800 examples were made available, ensuring that residual values stay strong. The exterior carries quite subtle changes to the mass-production RX-8, with small PZ and Prodrive badging – but the lowered suspension (by 15mm) and gorgeous 10-spoke, 18in OZ alloy wheels hint at something that bit more special.

Inside, the PZ is similar to the 231ps RX-8, with black leather seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake. It’s a stylish beast.

But the main difference is in the driving experience. The car is fitted with Bilstein dampers and Eibach coil springs to reduce roll and pitch; spring rates are increased by more than 60%. Aurally, things have improved, too. An upgraded rear silencer gives a sportier, meatier sound to the RX-8.

The figures show that the PZ has the same performance as the standard 231ps RX-8, but it does feel different. You can utilize that available power far better. The superior handling makes it more fun and confidence inspiring on the roads, while the rear-wheel drive is guaranteed to make cornering and damp roads exciting.

More than 17,000 RX-8s have made it into UK homes since its launch, but those customers who manage to get their hands on a PZ should feel very smug indeed.

Price: £25,995
Engine: Twin rotary, 228bhp @ 8,200rpm; 156lb ft @ 5,500rpm
Performance: 0-62mph 6.4sec, top speed 146mph
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Efficiency: 24.8mpg (combined); 284g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £11,550 (45%)
Rivals: Nissan 350Z, Audi TT, Subaru Impreza WRX
Strengths: Lovely, sporty looks with practical side
Weaknesses: Thirsty rotary engine
Opportunity: Great for occasional track day use
Threat: Demand may outstrip supply
USP: Hardcore RX-8; rotary engine

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