Mazda are no strangers when it comes to the art of building sports cars, and fantastic sports cars at that. Their ethos is a simple, yet winning recipe for success; build cars that are small and lightweight with nimble chassis’, then push them around with motors that rev to the moon.
The RX8 is a brilliant example of what Mazda has taken away from decades of R&D. The result is a car so poised when you’re in the mountains, you’ll question most other cars you’ve thrown at a corner in the past.
I knew none of this RX8 jargon prior to handing an envelope full of cash to the previous owner of my old RX8, however. You see, I change my cars like I change my underwear, much to the dismay of friends and family who grow more attached to my own cars than I do. If I don’t change cars a few times a year, I get itchy feet. As a car enthusiast, I’m always yearning for different experiences and given the fact I don’t have Jay Lenno’s bank account, I usually have to settle for one toy at a time.
I was in the market for another fleeting automotive affair when this particular car popped up in my local classifieds. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be part of the target market for a Mazda RX8, but I can’t resist the allure of a good bargain and this thing was cheap. So cheap in fact, I was concerned about catching something really nasty.
On my way to pick up my bargain, I did some googling to discover just how deep the hole I’d dug for myself was. With a front-mid mounted Wankel 13b mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox, the RX8 looked good on paper; I was feeling better about my purchase. Who can resist the two stroke like characteristics of a high revving rotary and a third pedal when the aim of the game is fun? Not me. It seemed like a sure thing prior to even firing it up.
After purchasing the car, I drove it on a daily basis for a few months and I’ve got to say, it impressed me. I believe Mazda have found a great balance between comfort, class and performance.
The Renesis engine is so unbelievably smooth it’s difficult to convey, you’ll just have take my word for it. The 6 speed paired with it is a lovely unit with a very smooth action and a short, sporty throw to match. This recipe lends itself to both city driving and spirited driving, as the RX8 is well behaved and easy to manage around town, but responds exceptionally well when you give it a workout on your favourite stretch of road.
Fuel consumption is a downside to RX8 ownership, you can expect a return of over 15L/100km. A keen thirst for fuel is inherent with rotary engines, but it’s a price worth paying. When you rev the Renesis to 9,000 RPM and feel the unique power delivery synonymous only with rotaries, the fuel bill becomes irrelevant. You just push on to the next corner.
The RX8 handles admirably for a stock car. My only criticism being with the factory suspension, it does feel a tad soft. While this helps the car remain comfortable, it is noticeable during cornering and under braking, though the compromise is minimal. Any direction you point the car in, it will follow as if it’s on rails. I found the chassis to be incredibly neutral with no penchant for understeer or oversteer, unless I really manhandled it. In the twisty bits, the RX8 really feels superb and I struggled to fault it.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when eyes are planted on the RX8, opinions are firmly divided. People either love it, or they loathe it. One thing is agreeable though, it is unique. The suicide rear doors serve as a great excuse for strangers to hijack you with conversation while you’re fueling the car up and keen rotor-heads will jump at the chance to point out the fact your car has triangles all over it. Thanks for the geometry lesson, Mazda!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an RX8 owner, it was an exercise that broadened my horizons. I can honestly say without a shadow of doubt that the Mazda RX8 has been one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve owned under 400hp. And I barely missed a single pony!