The Mazda RX-8 is a sports car that was manufactured by the Japanese automobile manufacturer Mazda from 2002 to 2012. The RX-8 was a successor of the RX-7, and as for the previous models of the RX family, the RX-8 was also equipped with a rotary Wankel engine.
The Mazda RX-8 is a two-door (previously four-door) four-seater coupe that was designed based on the Mazda F platform as a rear-wheel drive with a naturally-aspirated front mid-mounted 1.3L (13B) Renesis (Wankel type rotary) engine.
The 1.3L rotary engine under the bonnet transfers up to 232 HP to the back wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox – provided you don’t opt for the 212HP 6-ratio auto. Despite being down on torque and power likened to many, an over-the-top redline of 8,500 rpm, the wailing of a Wankel motor, and technological advancements like a carbon-fiber driveshaft all mean this is something unique.
Interior and Exterior
The RX-8’s rear seats are accessed via two hinged rear half-doors that open after opening the front doors. The interior has a low-slung driving position; the dashboard is uniquely styled to give the RX-8 a special feel.
The RX-8 has a black sport cloth interior complete with black polish accents on pieces of the doors and the steering wheel. Each seat is designed with a small aluminum rotor shape. Especially in the sports version, the RX-8 is equipped with manually adjustable seats. Also, the Mazda RX-8 has small aluminum kick plates.
Most of the powered options of the car are located on the door so it has full power mirror controls, including automatic driver and passenger windows as well as power door locks with window locks.
Just look at the dashboard. The steering wheel content controls are included with a radio set as well as the cruise control.
The RX-8 was designed with a multi-function audio system complete with FM/AM and satellite radio along with a separate media outlet, a 6-disc CD changer in the center stack. The center button is the volume button and power button. Different audio and text controls are located on the little right knob on the right-hand side. Turning the radio simply turns the knob on the left either or to the right depending on the station you are in. Also, there are a lot of numbers on the audio system indicating spaces for preset radio stations. Drivers can also have the availability of searching the entire radio system.
The single-zone air conditioning system is located below the audio system. The different fan speeds are located on the knob on the left. The car also has a front and back defroster as well as automatic A/C as well as air recycling and outside venting. Different temperatures are controlled with the knob on the right. Moreover, the car has different sorts of ventilated mirrors and interior lighting.
The RX-8 has an easily different exterior design, highlighted in 3 paint colors. The nose is complemented by a wide bumper and a set of thin halogen headlights. The back end of the iconic machine boasts pointed taillights and a spoiler, while the dual-exhaust displays 2 openings on either side of the diffuser. The design of the RX-8 is in-your-face, though its back suicide doors make it unique. The trim came with a body kit that adds a different side look, 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, and a revised front bumper. In terms of sizes, the 4-door coupe has a width of 69.7 inches and a length of 175.6 inches.
The RX-8 came with double-wishbone, front suspensions, and multi-link suspensions at the rear giving the RX-8 excellent road manners, comfortable driving experience, and agile handling.
The Mazda RX-8 comes in several trim levels depending on the market. For Japan, there’s the Type-S, Type-E, Type-RS, Base Model where different trims offer different options when it comes to choosing the type of engine, type of transmission, color, interior and exterior finishing, rims, and the likes.
The Engine & Transmission
The RX-8 engine is compact and has lightweight which makes the car luminously agile. The steering is direct and precise, and its back-wheel drive setup should please purists. All RX-8 cars are fitted out with a limited-slip differential, helping to grip when cornering and increase stability.
After cruising an RX-8, most drivers can easily fall in love with it. The motive that makes them like the RX-8 is that the car has the power delivery and the rare sound of the rotary engine brings an enjoyable and unique experience when accelerating.
This early RX-8 had two possible engine outputs: 141 KW (192 HP) at 7000 rpm, 220 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm, and 170 KW (231 HP) at 8200 rpm, 156 pound-feet of torque at 5500 rpm. These engines were mated with a five and six-speed manual transmission as standard and 4 and six-speed automatic transmission as optional.
The 141 KW engine has a maximum speed of 224 km/h (139 mph) and accelerates from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 7.2 seconds while the 170 KW engine has a maximum speed of 235 km/h (146 mph) and accelerates from 0-10 km/h (0-62 mph) in 6.4 seconds.
Fuel consumption for most RX-8 is approximately 15.6L/100KM on urban roads and 8.7L/100KM on the highway while on average reaching 11.2L/100KM.
The price for the Mazda RX-8 in our store at BE FORWARD starts at around $4,030 and just over $29,960 for a top-level trim.
Despite the pillarless 4-door design, the RX-8 is a safe and robust car. There are sides and front airbags and all varieties offer traction control.
You may hear a lot about the Mazda RX-8, but it’s preferred amongst enthusiasts for a reason: the balanced chassis is a performance driver’s delight and the rotary sings an incredible song.
Originally published April 9, 2020, updated September 9, 2021
Written by: Josephat Lukaza