As a show of support for the rotary engine’s devoted followers, Mazda North American Operations will be offering an extended warranty to protect the ’09 RX-8 coupe’s high-revving 1.3L Renesis rotary engine.

Accompanying numerous interior and exterior refinements for the refreshed model, the new program covers eight years or 100,000 miles (160,934 km), with the balance of the powertrain warranty covering five years or 60,000 miles (96,561 km).

In addition, MNAO is retroactively applying the extended coverage to owners that have had service issues with ’04 through ’08 models.

The RX-8’s basic warranty remains at three years or 36,000 miles (57,936 km), the auto maker says.

Although the new car’s 232-hp engine is unchanged, new front and rear fascias, light assemblies and wheels highlight the improvements for ’09.

A redesigned instrument panel and steering wheel are featured inside, as are new front and rear seats and a variable tachometer that raises the redline as the engine warms up.

Structural reinforcements to the suspension and drivetrain also have been added for improved handling and reduced noise, vibration and harshness qualities.

For buyers wanting even more performance, an R3 sport package will be available when the cars reach showrooms this month.

Included in the R3 option are Bilstein dampers and revised front crossmembers, as well as special 19-in. wheels and tires, a 300-watt Bose stereo and front Recaro sport seats.

Pricing for the ’09 models starts at $26,435 for a base sport model and tops out at $31,930 for the R3.

msutton@wardsauto.com