Remember the RX-8? It seems a long while since we heard from Mazda’s rotary-engine four-door, four-seat sports coupe, but it’s still on sale and the Japanese market is receiving a final special edition version called the RX-8 SPIRIT R.

On sale from November 24, 2011, the RX-8 SPIRIT R is based on the Japanese Domestic Market RX-8 Type RS and comes fitted with a six-speed manual transmission. It is named after the final limited edition Mazda RX-7, and therefore the SPIRIT R also marks the end of the line for Mazda’s latest RX model.

Changes include an exclusive seat design, coloured alloy wheels and standard curtain and front side SRS airbag system – which is available as an option on base models. Following launch, the RX-8 line-up will consist of just two versions – the SPIRIT R and the Type G (with six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission).

Although this marks the end of the RX-8, Mazda remain committed to the ongoing development of its rotary engine programme, although there are no concrete plans for a future model to continue the RX-8’s pedigree.

Throughout 2011, Mazda have been celebrating the 20th anniversary of their victory in the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race with the rotary engine 787B. Ex-F1 driver Johnny Herbert performed demonstration laps at this year’s Le Mans race, but the car has also made an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and numerous events on the motor racing calendar.

Johnny Herbert, who was at the wheel when the checkered flag of victory went down for Mazda’s 787B in 1991, in June 2011 he drove the 787B for the first time in 20 years at the Sarthe Circuit.

Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, said, “At each one(event), the screaming rotary engine and the sight of the 787B have enthralled everyone from young children to race fans who witnessed its victory in 1991.

These events have been a powerful reminder of the widespread passion for the rotary engine. Although RX-8 production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirit of Mazda and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development.”

Le Mans winning Mazda 787B