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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.

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 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?