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2008 Mazda RX-8

Overview
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2008 Mazda RX-8 Review

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The 2008 Mazda RX-8 is one of those cars that can generate strong emotions. Owners love its neutral handling, unique four-door coupe design and lightweight rotary engine. Those same owners, however, often complain about the car's sometimes disappointing fuel economy and noticeable shortage of low-end torque. If you can overlook those eccentricities, and the fact that, when equipped with the automatic transmission, the engine loses 20 horsepower, the RX-8 makes a fine sports car, one that lets you take along three other adults and a bit of luggage. The RX-8's sub-$30,000 price tag, stunning interior detail and long list of standard and available features are just icing on the cake.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love the nimble, responsive handling of the Miata, but want something faster and with room for four adults, the 2008 Mazda RX-8 may win you over.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a low-involvement sports car (which is, to a certain extent, an unreasonable expectation), the 2008 Mazda RX-8's rotary engine, with its occasional fuel consumption issues and short-at-the-bottom torque curve, may not be to your liking. The compact rotary engine delivers its torque high in the rpm band, meaning you have to run the revs high when passing or accelerating.

What's Significant About This Car?

To help celebrate 40 years of producing rotary engines, Mazda will introduce a limited-edition 40th Anniversary model featuring special Metropolitan Grey paint, Cosmo Red leather interior and unique 18-inch alloy wheels.

Driving the RX-8

Driving Impressions At idle, a slight, distinctive vibration is the telltale sign a rotary engine lurks beneath the hood; it's not annoying in any way and actually makes the car feel almost...

alive. Slip it into first gear and you'll feel the pull of the 232-horsepower RENESIS engine, slowly at first, but then increasingly faster once the tach climbs past 2000 rpm. With a 9000-rpm redline, all you have to do is keep the engine between 4000 and 6000 rpm and you'll always find more than enough power on tap for quick bursts of acceleration. The six-speed shifter requires only the slightest movement to change gears, and the clutch engages so smoothly it's easy to execute neat, clean shifts. The steering is neutral and extremely precise in both its execution and feedback.

Six-Speed Short-Throw Shifter
The RX-8's marvelous six-speed short-throw shifter can make other six-speeds feel imprecise by comparison.

Rear-Seat Console
A rear-seat console keeps siblings separate and provides storage for a navigation unit.

2008 Mazda RX-8 Details
Interior

Slip inside the 2008 Mazda RX-8 and immediately the quality of the materials and the depth of detail will impress you. A combination of suede-like fabric and ribbed cloth inserts covers the excellent sport bucket seats, and the driver's seat features a height-adjustable cushion. Although you can opt for full leather seating, it won't have the same Velcro-like grip on your clothing of the standard seats, which is a nice attribute when hurrying around tight curves. The instrument cluster is housed in a dash-mounted binnacle that includes a center-mounted tachometer with an inset digital speedometer. Why Mazda chose this design is a bit of a mystery, as a nice analog speedometer could easily have been placed on either side of the tachometer.

Exterior

The 2008 Mazda RX-8's styling will probably not appeal to everyone. Its bulging wheel arches, unusual half-doors and low profile give it a look that either draws you in or leaves you cold. The RX-8 forgoes a hatchback design in favor of a usable trunk, a nice feature if this is your only car, and it also tends to look different depending upon the paint color, with brighter colors seeming to accentuate the car's crisp lines.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The RX-8's standard equipment includes a 232-horsepower rotary engine (212 horsepower with the automatic), six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), rear defroster, four cup holders, rear console, keyless entry, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, rear-seat pass-through, cruise control, sport suspension, tire pressure monitor, power windows, power locks and a tilt-wheel with touch controls.

Optional Equipment

The RX-8 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Each level features a number of pre-bundled options that can include heated leather seats, eight-way power driver's seat, power moonroof, Bose audio, MP3 player, in-dash six-disc CD changer, xenon headlamps, sport suspension, DVD navigation, spare tire kit, torque-sensing limited-slip rear axle, traction control and stability control.

Under the Hood

The RENESIS rotary engine displaces a mere 1.3 liters by rotary measurement formulas, yet produces an impressive 232 horsepower (212 with the automatic). A maximum torque rating of 159 pound-feet is not much to brag about, but with a 9000-rpm redline (7000-rpm with the automatic transmission), you can milk every ounce of the engine's power before upshifting. What makes the rotary engine unique is its simple architecture. Instead of pistons, valves, camshafts, connecting rods and a crankshaft, the rotary requires only an output shaft surrounded by triangular-shaped rotors housed in chambers that are shaped somewhat like ovals with pinched middles. The rotary is therefore mechanically very simple, has minimal moving parts and is quite small.

1.3-liter RENESIS 2-rotor rotary
232 horsepower @ 8500 rpm (manual)
212 horsepower @ 7500 rpm (automatic)
159 lb.-ft. of torque at 5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (manual), 16/23 (automatic)

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2008 Mazda RX-8 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 459 Ratings for the 2004 - 2011 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.2/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.0/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Excellent experience. Turns a curve on a dime.

By on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,900

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great driving experience"

Cons: "Inside is laid out with everything for cruising."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Love driving this car. Has plenty of get up and go. Can make you forget for a little while about other stuff you don't want to think about. It handles great on dry roads, but honestly is a bit touchy when wet, and forget about snow. This is a warm weather sports car and is my favorite car, even with its little quirks."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Very pretty but unreliable

By on Saturday, August 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "So much fun to drive, handles corners well, fast"

Cons: "ROTARY ENGINE"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I bought this car because it's obviously pretty and fast. I quickly learned that these cars have many problems. I learned they don't run well when in places where it is hot. My car broke down three days after purchasing it. The rotary engines are garbage."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

The absolute most fun car to drive!!

By on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "fun to drive, superior handling, rare"

Cons: "not fuel efficient, lacks torque"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I fell in love with this car when I was twelve and finally got one when I was 19, I have no complaints. Its not meant to be the fastest car on the road, the Rx8 was built for driving, it rides on rails and will put any AWD car to shame. It is not my daily driver as I want to keep it nice and it sucks on gas but again its not meant to be a prius, People generally shy away from Rotarys, but like anything else in life it will last if you take care of it, keep up on maintenance and ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OIL! ~SaRX8ah 2010 RX8 R3"

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

looks good, drives o.k.

By on Thursday, July 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "good handling with no modifications"

Cons: "have to learn to drive again, i.e. rotary motor"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"I purchased my car to run autocross in a stock class. With a set of really good tires it handles well. With the same set of tires my 2000 Crown Victoria handles about the same. My Crown Vic is lowered with high end aftermarket springs and has expensive shocks, etc., but at the same time cost me half as much with the modifications. The condition of the vehicles is similar so performance per dollar i'm getting more from the boat. I suggest that weigh your options and consider what you want to do with the car before buying. If you just want to go fast on the street get something else."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Great car but not for the average owner

By on Friday, May 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "handles well fun to drive reliable"

Cons: "maintenance costs poor mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Very fun car to drive and own but it does have a few unique quarks. It does have the Rotary engine which is small and packs a lot of punch but you have to take care of it. It can not be driven as a granny car or you will ruin it. It needs to have the carbon burned out with aggressive driving on occasion and needs at least yearly plug changes. Since it used a small amount of oil for the engine to work correctly you have to watch your oil levels and can not use some types. Other than that a great reliable car and fun to own and great to drive."

22 people out of 32 found this review helpful

Best car in USA under $100,000

By on Monday, May 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "great fun to drive hard"

Cons: "No longer made"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Our car at an East Coast auto show in early 2010

"We bought this wonderful car from our local Mazda dealership nearly four years ago and have never regretted that decision. Car was originally owned by the firm that provides vehicles for car shows in the northeast. Beautiful in Aurora Blue, with R3 body work, BBS wheels, Recaro front seats, and Bilstein shock absorbers. Has been a three-season daily driver,and a wonderful car for quick out and bck on some fine sports car roads in NE Kansas (not all of Kansas is flat!) This is our second Wankel engine sports car -- bought new a 1979 RX-7,sold at 130K miles in 1992. Had a few maintenance issues with that model, usually problems with the suspension. This 2010 R3 has been maintenance perfect since purchased."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Our car at an East Coast auto show in early 2010

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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