You might have been slightly surprised that I decided to give the number 1 sports car for 2006 prize to the Mazda RX-8, not only because the car has been available since 2003, but because its such an.. odd.. sports car. It uses a rotary engine to begin with, making it the only car sold (in mass) in Australia that uses this type of engine. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept click to read more about Rotary Engines.
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Nevertheless, the Mazda RX-8 is Car Advice's Sports car of 2006 because it is not just an Icon but a technological masterpiece and more than anything, the point of a sports car is to not only be fast, and handle well, but also attract as much positive attention as humanely possible and the RX-8 does that quite well.

Unfortunately, the only downfall of the RX-8 is its lack of power, sure the 177kw of power and 211Nm of torque propel the car from 0-100 km/hr in just 6.2 seconds, but compared to the old Mazda RX-7s or even the Mazda 3 MPS, the RX-8 feels slow. Now why would Mazda fail to Turbo charge the RX-8? Because Turbo charging the RX-8s Rotary engine would have meant that Mazda couldn't sell the car due to emission laws. What a shame! Because the RX-8 would have been even more of a screamer had it come with a Turbo.

The most important reason this car is number 1 is because it is a true practical sports car. With the looks, the room, the equipment, the performance and the attention grabbing road presence, the Mazda RX-8 is just superb. If you are into modifications and don't care much about the planet, aftermarket turbo kits are available for the RX-8 which boosts the power considerably.

The Suicide doors are also a nice attention grabbing feature of the RX-8, Mazda likes to call them otherwise, but Suicide doors is the term, and the RX-8's doors give a generous amount of room to get inside the car for front and rear passengers. However for those unfortunate enough to find themselves in the rear seats of a RX-8, the problem of actually seeing where the driver is taking you is apparent. Nevertheless, those little windows in the back seats do actually open so at least you can get some air!

If you find yourself complaining about turbo lag in Turbo charged cars, it is worth noting that the RX-8 peaks at around 6000 RPM! The sound of the rotary engine is second to none and at those revs the car really starts going. For those of you who can't be bothered to change gears, the RX-8 is not for you! Mazda down tuned the Automatic RX-8 to just 141 KW (about the same as your Toyota Camry) since the gearbox couldn't handle the revs and Mazda decided to go for more mid range power than high end power.

The weakest part of the Mazda RX-8 are the brakes. Even with the electronic brake distribution and ABS controlled with ventilated brake rotors that are fairly large at 12.7 inches in front and 11.9 inches in rear, the brakes are too soft and the stopping distance is not one to lose any sleep over.

Being a rotary you wouldn't expect the RX-8 to be the most fuel efficient sports car there is, weighing only 1337kg the RX-8 uses 12.6L/100km for city and highway driving but given you are driving one of the most beautiful cars for less than $65,000, I wouldn't complain!

Full list of standard equipment follows:

  • Speaker Stereo
  • ABS (Antilock Brakes)
  • Adjustable Steering Col. - Tilt only
  • Air Cond. - Climate Control
  • Airbags - Driver & Passenger (Dual)
  • Airbags - Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • Airbags - Head for 2nd Row Seats
  • Airbags - Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front)
  • Body Colour - Bumpers
  • Body Colour - Fittings
  • CD Stacker - 6 disc In Dash/Cabin
  • Control - Dynamic Stability
  • Control - Traction
  • Cruise Control
  • Disc Brakes Front Ventilated
  • Disc Brakes Rear Ventilated
  • EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution)
  • Engine Immobiliser
  • Front Stabiliser
  • Headrests - Integrated 2nd Row
  • Independent Rear Suspension
  • Intermittent Wipers - Variable
  • Leather Gear Knob
  • Leather Steering Wheel
  • Limited Slip Differential
  • Metallic Finish Air Vents (interior)
  • Metallic Finish Inserts
  • Metallic Finish Instrument Surrounds
  • Metallic Finish Switch Panel
  • Multi-function Steering Wheel
  • Power Door Mirrors - Heated
  • Power Steering - Electric Assist
  • Power Windows - Front only
  • Remote Boot/Hatch Release
  • Remote Fuel Lid Release
  • Sports Seats - 1st Row (Front)
  • Suspension - Sports
  • Tacho