Mazda Motor Corporation’s revolutionary rotary-powered, four-door, four-seat sports car has been named the 2003 Car of the Year by Australian-based Wheels magazine. Final results of the annual award were announced on January 19, 2004.
Now in its 41st year, the Wheels Car of the Year is the world’s oldest continuously-running new car award and Australia’s most coveted automobile prize.
The Mazda RX-8 was awarded the Wheels prize ahead of 28 eligible vehicles. Eight expert judges spent six days driving the cars over thousands of kilometers at a proving ground and on public roads. The winner was selected by secret ballot.
"The Mazda RX-8 represents the birth of a new and worthwhile category of car," said Wheels editor Ged Bulmer. "The RX-8 has achieved a genuine sports coupe experience, complete with four doors and four seats, thanks to a daring, ingenious design. It’s good looking, clever, great to drive and a worthy winner of the Wheels Car of the Year."
Mazda Motor Corporation President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki said, "The Mazda RX-8 is the fruit of great effort and passion put forth by the entire Mazda team, from R&D and manufacturing to sales and marketing. It offers customers the driving pleasure and technical innovations they expect from Mazda, including a rotary engine. Receiving the 2003 Car of the Year award from Wheels magazine is a great honour for Mazda, as it is proof that our new-generation products, including Mazda6, Mazda2 and Mazda3, are broadly appreciated in all global markets. The RX-8 is Mazda’s brand icon. It embodies everything that is great about this company. And our efforts will continue: Mazda will strive to put its collective effort into creating fun-to-drive, Zoom-Zoom products."
To date, the Mazda RX-8 has been named RJC Car of the Year 2004, 2003-2004 Japan Automotive Hall of Fame Production Car of the Year, and the 2003-2004 Japan Car of the Year Most Fun special award. In addition, the RENESIS, which powers the RX-8 and is the only mass production rotary engine in the world, was named International Engine of the Year 2003 and RJC Technology of the Year 2004.
Mazda has regularly enjoyed Wheels Car of the Year success. Mazda has won the award five times, making it the most successful full-line importer in the Australian market. Past winners were the 323 in 1980, the MX-5 in 1989 and the 626 in 1983 and 1992.
Wheels magazine is Australia’s biggest selling general interest motoring magazine and has a readership of 507,000 per issue, making it the country’s second most widely read men’s magazine.