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Mazda RX-8 2008 review

It must have taken guts, because the RX-8 is a car like no other, with its unique rotary engine and quirky back doors that open backwards to provide rear access.

That's not necessarily a good thing, especially in a world where the colour of a car can tip the balance - but sometimes it requires a point of difference.

The RX-8 is a car that you're going to love or hate, maybe a little of both.

With 170kW on tap in manual form, but just 211Nm of torque from a rather high 5500rpm, this is no red light racer.

Mazda claims low sixes for the 0-100km/h dash, but these days that's really not that quick.

Point it at a winding mountain road, however and the car comes to life.

With rear drive, a low centre of gravity, perfect 50/50 balance, torque sensing limited slip diff, lots of grip from the 19-inch wheels and a slick, short throw gear shift - it all adds up to fun with a capital F.

Pros

Love the differentness. It doesn't look like other cars, doesn't drive like other cars and certainly doesn't sound like other cars.

Driving the RX-8 is all about revs. Without revs and plenty of them, it simply does not perform.

With 5000rpm on the clock the thing starts to hum and if you can keep it there the drive experience is a rewarding one.

The GT comes with a six-speed manual, a lift from the MX-5 sports car. It's a sweet, short shifter that falls easily to hand. A six-speed sequential auto is available, but you drop 12kW of power.

Looks better than ever, with a new body kit and classy 19-inch alloys. It's 23kg lighter too.

GT gets the whole shooting match including Recaro seats, Bilstein dampers and a special foam-filled front cross member to make it handle better.

Cons

Here's a car crying out for forced induction, either turbo or supercharging - whatever does the trick. It's the easiest way to give it the low end oomph that is so badly needs.

The lack of torque early in the rev range makes it difficult to keep up with traffic around town. Just as you get going it's time to slow down again for the next set of lights.

Can't understand why Mazda has dropped the triangular rotary references from the front and rear bumpers? For that matter don't know why the centre instrument cluster isn't housed by a triangle instead of a circle.

Bucket style sports seats lack height or lumbar adjustment and the steering wheel is not reach adjustable which makes finding a comfortable driving position difficult.

Slightly larger 65-litre tank. Drinks premium unleaded. Rated at 12.9 litres/100km but has a reputation for being thirsty.

Space saver spare.

Would you buy one?

Looks more sophisticated than the original, but doesn't feel that much different to drive. You could say it more evolution than revolution. For all its faults, however, the RX-8 remains an exciting car to drive.

Pricing guides

$12,500
Based on 3 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,500
Highest Price
$12,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 1.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,800 – 13,200 2008 Mazda RX-8 2008 (base) Pricing and Specs
40th Anniversary 1.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,300 – 13,970 2008 Mazda RX-8 2008 40th Anniversary Pricing and Specs
GT 1.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,600 – 14,410 2008 Mazda RX-8 2008 GT Pricing and Specs
Luxury 1.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $7,500 – 12,500 2008 Mazda RX-8 2008 Luxury Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$9,600

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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