After five years on the market, the Mazda RX-8 is looking at some minor updates, although the changes for 2009 are less of a facelift than a shave and a haircut. Externally, the only changes are restyled head- and taillights, larger exhaust tips, a new wheel design, a new R3 sport package, and restyled front and rear fascias, including a larger grille with a hideous black plastic lip tacked over it.

Light tweaks to the interior include new seats, a revised center stack, and a variable redline for the 1.3-liter rotary that increases as the engine warms to operating temperature.
The new R3 sport package adds 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels, a sportier suspension tune with Bilstein shocks, and more supportive Recaro front seats.

Mechanically, little is changed. Front-end rigidity is increased and the rear suspension geometry has been revised in the name of handling, while a shorter final-drive in manual-transmission cars (changed to 4.777 from 4.444) will mean a slightly more responsive gas pedal—a bit more bonus for buyers of the 232-hp manual RX-8s, who already get 20 more horsepower than those who opt for the automatic.

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