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Mike Stevens | Aug 23, 2011

Mazda's latest hero in the RX line, the RX-8, has come to the end of the road.

After tightening emissions laws saw it pulled from the European market, a drop-off in global sales has put the final nail in the four-door coupe's coffin.

Sales for the RX-8 were at their strongest in 2004, its second year on the market - but have steadily declined in the years since.

In Australia, Mazda sold just four RX-8s in July, compared to 18 in the same period last year. Year to date, 52 RX-8s have found an Australian home - two thirds fewer than at this time in 2010.

Powered by Mazda's award-winning twin-rotor Renesis engine, the RX-8 offered 170kW and 211Nm - solid numbers for a 1.3 litre mill.

Throughout its eight-year lifetime, the RX-8 polarised enthusiasts. Many praised its styling, powertrain and dynamics, while others derided the rotary engine's taste for oil and its seemingly absent torque.

Whether Mazda will continue with its iconic rotary engine is unclear: the company has been working on its new 16X engine for some time, but the global financial crisis saw production post-poned, and there's been no official word since.

There's hope for the rotorheads, however, with Mazda North America CEO Jim O'Sullivan confirming to US industry paper Automotive News this week that the rotary is not dead yet.

"The rotary is alive and well within Mazda", O'Sullivan said. "We are studying what's the best way to come back to the market with the rotary."

With the passing of the RX-8, the MX-5 is left to carry the "zoom-zoom" flag for Mazda sports cars (although with the likes of the Mazda3 MPS, there's comfort for enthusiasts in Mazda's passenger car line-up).

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