By KBB.com Editors
The 2010 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.
If you love the nimble, responsive handling of the Miata, but want something faster and with room for four adults, the 2010 Mazda RX-8 may win you over.
If you're looking for a low-involvement sports car (which is, to a certain extent, an unreasonable expectation), the 2010 Mazda RX-8's rotary engine, with its occasional oil and 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.
The 2010 RX-8 receives a revised front and rear fascia as well as a simplification of the model lineup. The Touring trim has been dropped, as have the Premium Package options. A sunroof is now standard on the Grand Touring trim and Mazda has made significant improvements to the rotary engine aimed at minimizing oil consumption.
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 electrically controlled 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.
A rear-seat console keeps siblings separate and provides storage for a navigation unit.
Slip inside the 2010 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 2010 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.
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. Grand Touring models gain a power moonroof, heated leather front seats, rain sensing wipers, traction and stability control, auto on/off HID headlamps, automatic air conditioning, torque-sensing limited slip differential, heated side mirrors, power driver's seat and a 300-watt, nine speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system with six-disc CD changer. The R3 adds to the Sport's standard equipment a sport tuned suspension, side sills, fog lights, 19-inch wheels surrounded by performance rubber and Recaro sport seats.
This year's revised packaging leaves very little on the options list. The Grand Touring model can be equipped with a DVD navigation system, while Sport and R3 trims can have SIRIUS Satellite Radio installed.
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 (7500-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)
By victoria on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,800overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "good looking, fast, "affordable""
Cons: "expensive to fix, engine, oh and...engine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have never gone out of my way to write anything on one of these sites but I want to prevent someone from something I had to go through. Understand this car is beautiful and drives like a racecar (at first) but do your research before the purchase. I bought this car last year with 73 k miles on it. Had slow exceleration but it was beautiful and my first car purchase on my own. Thought I got it for a great deal, 8900 and it was mine. The car lasted me a few months with no problems until I had decided to move to flordia, I put over 1k into it to prepare it for the drive. The engine was making a weird noise so I replaced almost everything in this car that mechanics had told me to do. The day before I left the engine light was no longer flashing indicating back fire and I knew something was up...when I got down here I was notified that I had been driving it the entire time I had it with only one part of the engine working. The apex seals were going, and they told me its VERY COMMON! ok, so so common that to replace the apex seals was more expensive than replacing the engine (4500$$$$). APEX SEALS ARE THE KISS OF DEATH. Talked with numerous owners and all said same problem. The warrenty expired for that problem..that mazda was willing to replace the engine for free, thats not fishy at all. This was the worst purchase of my life. It is now sitting in a parking spot with only 10 k miles that I put on it and 3200 still owed. YOUVE BEEN WARNED."
By bobmac27 on Saturday, February 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, style, corner quickness,"
Cons: "out of production now"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The end of the production for the RX8 removed opportunity for the common man/woman to own a true unique sports car. It corners like a dream, accelerates into a different machine in 3rd gear and up. The rotary power plant yes not great on fuel, is dependable, quiet and when revved into the 8k zones gives you a distant feeling of what F1 and some Indy drivers must feel. Dare to show me another car at this price and Mazda quality that can move into the 9500 rpm range. Ok it is a dog in first gear but after that look out! Style also has it's way with this car with unique fender curves, low profiling and sleek front to rear contour. If you want a good toy go after one!"
By newyorker on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"The car is a great car. There are a few things that I would change on it. The interior is very small and crammed. The trunk is also very small. The gas mileage is ok except it only takes premium. It burns through oil a lot. The pros to it is that it handles great, it is reliable and it has a "cool" outside design."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By EMRX8 on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, Fun, Fun to drive!"
Cons: "low torque!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you like to have fun driving the RX-8 is for you... maybe not the most powerful and fast on a straight line... but boy... does it drive good... it is like driving a go-kart! My only complaint is that it lacks torque, so of the start is slow... once you build up RPMs it goes... If you have a heavy foot... like most RX-8 drivers do! it does have an appetite! it will do 19-20MPH Highway, if you slow down and watch your acceleration (no fun!) it will do 23... so is up to you..."
By Albert on Saturday, January 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "A race car in a small package"
Cons: "Gas mileage is 17 MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"High performance feel behind the wheel . The Techtronic shifter (manual and automatic)behind the wheel is nothing short of precision, comfort and overall amazing. Stability and drive control is exceptional. The 4 doors and spacious interior are beautifully designed and comfortable. Amazing Sound System"
By Der Zwerg on Saturday, December 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive but not fun to maintain!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I love its looks, the way it handles, its over all feel, and its power. However it's a mechanical maintenance nightmare. I've spent thousands of dollars for repairs. I spent three thousand dollars in a little over a year and a half on different repairs needed to keep it running. It never ends! Everything breaks down. It has had constant electriclal problems, with the resultant warning lights, etc."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful