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2011 Mazda RX-8

Overview
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2011 Mazda RX-8 Review

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Many car companies assign the word "unique" to their cars, but in the case of the 2011 Mazda RX-8, the term truly applies. What makes the RX-8 unique? The answer is a combination of attributes beginning with Mazda's RENESIS rotary engine, the only such engine offered in a production car. Then there are the RX-8's small reverse-facing rear doors, another feature you won't find on any other sports car in its class. Of course, the RX-8's lightweight and impressive handling have earned it praise from owners and enthusiasts alike, but there is a dark side to being unique. Despite improvements made last year, the rotary engine still consumes oil at a greater rate than a traditional piston engine, and the RX-8's fuel economy can be downright abysmal. Still, if you can live with these eccentricities, the RX-8's cool look, roomy rear seat and good size trunk make it a very easy sports car to live with.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love the idea of a lightweight sports car with neutral handling and a high-revving engine, the 2011 Mazda RX-8 makes a wonderful companion.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a sports car with strong low-end torque or a deep, rumbling growl, something like the Nissan 370Z or Chevrolet Camaro SS might be a better fit. Those who prefer an automatic transmission will find they must give up 20 horsepower compared to the RX-8 equipped with the six-speed manual.

What's Significant About This Car?

There are no major changes for 2011.

Driving the RX-8

Driving Impressions While resting at idle, the RX-8 exhibits the distinctive vibration that is the calling card of its rotary engine. The vibration is not intrusive in any way, and actually makes...

the car feel as though it has a beating heart. Slipping into first gear, the 232-horsepower RENESIS engine is slow to pull away at first, but as the rpm rise, the 2011 Mazda RX-8 is swept up in a rush of power that propels it forward. Given the RX-8's 9000 rpm redline, keeping the engine between 4000 and 6000 rpm will ensure there is plenty of power (and torque) on hand when needed. Mazda's six-speed manual is one of our favorites, requiring only the slightest flicks to slip from gear to gear. The electrically controlled steering is neutral and extremely precise in both its execution and feedback.
Favorite Features

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.

2011 Mazda RX-8 Details
2011 Mazda RX-8 photo Interior

The 2011 Mazda RX-8's interior design is nearly ten years old, yet it still looks fresh and original. Beyond the high quality materials and intricate design elements (the triangular rotary piston shape is repeated throughout the cockpit), the RX-8 offers an excellent set of front and rear bucket-style seats covered in either ribbed sport cloth or leather, a rather roomy rear seat and, on the R3, Recaro front sport seats. The RX-8's instrument cluster is clearly influenced by the track, with a large tachometer front and center, flanked on either side by gauges for the temperature and fuel. The RX-8's speedometer is located inside the tachometer housing in the form of a small digital readout. One drawback of the RX-8's aging design is the lack of some more modern audio features, such as an iPod integration cable to permit iPod control via the stereo. Currently, the only way to listen to music from an iPod is through the auxiliary audio input jack located in the center console.

Exterior
2011 Mazda RX-8 photo

The 2011 Mazda RX-8's styling has aged well and still carries the same bulging front wheel arches, reverse-facing rear doors and low roofline as when it first debuted back in 2003. Whereas many fastback coupes employ a hatchback design, the RX-8 has a proper trunk, which allows valuables to remain secure. 18-inch, ten-spoke wheels are standard on the Sport and Grand Touring trims, with 19-inch wheels standard on the R3. All models show off LED tail lamps and large chrome exhaust tips.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2011 Mazda 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, six-speaker 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 with Bilstein shocks, side sills, fog lights, 19-inch wheels wrapped in performance rubber and Recaro sport seats.

Optional Equipment

The Grand Touring model can be equipped with a DVD navigation system, while Sport and R3 trims can have Sirius Satellite Radio and a six-disc CD changer installed.

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 (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)

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2011 Mazda RX-8 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 449 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
    8.5/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Love The Drive

By on Saturday, March 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

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

Pros: "great price ... like a rocket!"

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

"Handles like a sleeping baby in my arms... I feel part of the vehicle when taking curves .... she hums and never skips a beat... quiet little girl, but is a speedster with incredable handling on open road or streets... like a giselle leaping!Shes 4 years old, and I have only 18000 miles on her, but no issues with anything... Ive had her oil changed 6 times ... that's it! lots of people ask about her, with her shapely exterior, suicide doors that cradle passengers, and daredevil smile !"

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

KNOW WHAT YOUR GETTING INTO

By on Thursday, February 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,800

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
4/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

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."

15 people out of 19 found this review helpful

A sports car not like any other and affordable

By on Saturday, February 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Good but needs improvements

By on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

Outstanding Sports Car!

By on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

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

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..."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

A real pleasure to drive... Amazing design; Great

By on Saturday, January 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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"

1 person out of 1 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

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