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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 471 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

Fun. But, hate the suicide doors

By on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, Handles well, Feels sporty"

Cons: "The doors, The doors, The doors, Poor mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"The car I really want is an updated RX-7 or 240Z. An inexpensive two-seat hatchback sports car. In early 2013, the RX-8 was the closest I could find. I really like the styling of the front end. I really like the styling of the back end. I absolutely hate the suicide doors. I think they ruin the lines of the car. It's more stretched out than I'd like. And, they just look out of place, to me. From a practical standpoint, they're horrible. It has all the disadvantages of the long doors of a two-door. Plus the added inconvenience of a door that opens the wrong way. If you're parked next to another car and open the suicide doors, then you are now trapped between the two cars. If someone is trying to get out of the back seat, now there are two of you standing there, trying not to let the long door hit the car next to you, while attempting to maneuver to close the back door. If you're trying to get something bulky or heavy in or out of the car, the object is exactly in the way of the door path. You're trying to figure out some place to put your feet, while scooting the object out of the way of the back door, again, while trying to be conscientious of the car next to you. I've since learned that I need to stop the car in a clear area in order to load or unload the back seat. I play hockey. My bag will not fit through the teeny trunk opening. When I leave my house for my game, I have to back the car out of the garage into the driveway to get my bag in. If the parking lot at the rink is full, then I have to stop the car, pull my bag out, then park it. On top of all that, the way the seat belt runs through the loop in the back door, it often gets twisted and won't slide freely. I have to pay attention to how I release it, or else it ends up on the ground, in the way if I'm pulling something out of the back, or tangled in my feet. If I can't have my two-seat hatchback, then I could probably be okay with a two-seat and a trunk sports car. But, this isn't even that. My impression is that they do it for insurance reasons. By having the extra doors and the back seat, it gets put into a different insurance category. So, I guess we can blame the bean counters on this one. Overall, I like the car okay. I just think it would be a much better car without those ugly doors."

Awesome Car

By on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

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: "fun to drive, amazing handling, awesome sound"

Cons: "terrible gas mileage"

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

My personal RX8 I love her!

"This car is awesome in every way accept one, the gas mileage. Maybe it's because I drive the manual transmission, but I seem to get somewhere around 10-13 MPG city. I get pretty good highway mileage but while driving in the city I feel like I can literally watch the gas gauge go down. That being set aside, this is the most fun car I've owned. It is my dream car and owning it has only made me love it even more. The car handles like no other, and the looks you get while driving it down the road just make you feel good. This is a fantastic car to own. YOU MUST DO RESEARCH ON HOW TO MAINTAIN THIS CAR BEFORE YOU BUY IT. If you take care of this car it will take care of you. This is NOT a 4-door sedan that you can ignore for 10k miles. You need to constantly make sure that your car is in wonderful condition."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

My personal RX8 I love her!

Driver's car, unique design, loves curves

By on Monday, April 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "excellent driving car, sporty and unique design"

Cons: "high maintenance costs, poor mpg, rude seats,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Like it's predecessor the RX-7, built to hold the line in the bends. Superbly balanced with instant torque from 4500 rpm to redline (9000 rpm). The electric assist steering becomes more accurate at speed and vehicle never feels like it's going to leave the road due to excellent aerodynamics. A very civil car with the Dynamic Stability Control engaged (unless it's manually shut off, DSC is always active), the RX-8 is an unwieldly beast for the unexperienced when deactivated. Case in point: DSC off, 6000 rpm, popping into 2nd gear resulted in a 360 within length of vehicle. Not recommended for novice to capable drivers, especially on ice. Oil and ignition systems require constant monitoring, especially oil due to the unique design of the rotary engine. Best vehicle with less than 2.0l of engine i've ever driven and no neighbor maddening roar from the engine just a satisfying mid range hum of efficiency."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Fun, fast, stylish, looks good

By on Saturday, April 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun, fast, cool car"

Cons: "Lower gas mileage"

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

"Great looking car, curvy, sporty. Fun to drive, handles great, solid high speed cornering. Red lines at 9k rpm. Rotary engine needs to wind up to 7k occasionally for rotary seal health. Suggestions: don't use 5w20 oil - best with 15w40. Engine bolts need to be tightened to prevent loosening, which happens at Mazda specs (by design, I'm afraid). Gas mileage on these is normally around 16mpg and uses 93 octane. Better mileage when using fuel additives. Mine gets about 26 mpg after mods by Pettit Racing in West Palm Beach FL. Back seat with suicide doors for easy access, good for kids. I have owned this car for 6 years and still love it."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Fun, sport, vehicle

By on Saturday, March 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000

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
10/10

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

"Love this car as a fun, sport, no frills car. All service done by Mazda dealer. Must be driven to understand the smoothness of the rotary engine. So many myths have been said about this engine that are not true with these models. Just good normal care is all that's needed, as you would with any auto."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

new motor from mazda dealer have the papers

By on Thursday, February 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "BRAND NEW MOTOR INSTALLED BY THE DEALER IN JANUARY"

Cons: "MAY NEED SOME BRAKES SOON"

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

"2007 MAZDA RX8 WITH NEW MOTOR FROM MAZDA DEAL ISTALLED BY THE DEALER IN JANUARY 2015 DUE TO A DEFECT THAT WAS COVERED BY WARRANY. I HAVE THE PAPER WORK FROM THE DEALER. CAR IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION INSIDE AND OUT WITH GOOD TIRES HAS GOOD RIMS JUST A VERY GOOD CAR THAT IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION"

12 people out of 27 found this review helpful

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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

Buying this car?