The RX8 has been around for a very long time now (first launched in 2004). To give you some idea how long, Kelly Clarkson wasn’t even a household name when the RX8 came out, and Britney Spears had not even gotten her first marriage under her belt. Miss Spears however did use an RX8 in one of her music videos titled ‘Me against the music’.
However, all has not remained the same, as in 2009 Mazda had revised the look of the RX8 and with it brought along a new version too, its called the R3, and this is the most driver focused version of this drivers car, ever.
For its drivetrain, Mazda still uses its infamous rotary engine in the RX8. It still displaces only 1.3-liters in size and produces 232hp and 159lb/ft of torque. That power is sent through either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual gearbox (as in my test car) to the rear wheels, with a limited-slip differential ensuring power is transferred cleanly and productively on the road.
That is a good thing because the RX8 is still a quick car. It will go from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds and top out at about 240km/h. Even more impressive is its stability at speed, which is one of its strongest points.
Drivability wise, I have always been a fan of the RX8, from its sweet and smooth rotary engine that revs to an amazing 9000rpm, to the way it handles. Thanks to the new R3 handling package, it handles even better than before with less body roll. Typically when a car gets stiffer suspension its ride quality goes out the door, and the RX8 had always been a rather stiff ride. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the ride comfort has actually been improved. How they did that? My only guess is relentless testing with different springs and dampers until they found a combination that resulted in this ideal set-up. As a result, this is one of my favorite cars to carve up a twisty road. Good job Mazda engineers, good job indeed.
It also still has one of my favorite interiors. Not only is the driving position and visibility spot on, its build quality is very impressive too.
The R3 package adds another bonus in the interior, and that is its Recaro bucket seats. Not only are these seats comfortable on a long trip, but also supportive when you go around corners at neck spraining speeds (not that you should).
Since it is also the only coupe with back doors, it is more practical than most of its competitors also, although the trunk is rather small, so best to use duffle bags.
Any other drawbacks? Well, it still drinks more oil than most cars and it still uses more gas than most of its competition. I recently averaged just 14.2-liters/100km with it, which is exactly the same as a 400hp, twin-turbo V8 BMW 550i. Yikes!
Its not cheap to buy either, as prices start at $41,995. However, a quick trip to a Mazda dealer revealed big discounts, so if you want one, you can make a great deal.
The RX8 has been around for a long time but it still is one of the best coupe’s in the market. Its time as a new car is just about over, and while that is a bit sad, I have to say, I can’t wait to see what Mazda will come up with next.