mazda RX-8
Mazda RX-8

How It Drove - Performance

At the heart of the Mazda RX-8 is the 1308 cc rotary engine, entitled RENESIS. The name itself represents 'rotary engine (RE) genesis' and is symbolic of RENESIS’s revolutionary rotary technology that combines high levels of performance potential, with reasonable fuel consumption and low emissions. The RX-8 is not Mazda’s first rotary engined car; it is in fact their nineteenth. Their first rotary powered car was launched in 1967 and more recently the RX-7 (predecessor of the RX-8) which sold 1,094,416 units and became the most popular rotary-engine car in the world.

RENESIS is a water-cooled, twin-rotor engine with two chambers, each with 654 cm3 of displacement volume that is offered in two power versions. The Standard Power version produces 141 kW/192 PS of power at 7,000 rpm, with maximum torque of 220 Nm achieved at 5,000 rpm. The High Power version produces 170 kW/231 PS at 8,200 rpm and achieves maximum torque of 211 Nm at 5,500 rpm. The Standard Power version does 0 - 62 mph in 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 139 mph. The High Power version sprints from 0 - 62 mph in just 6.4 seconds and has a top speed of 146 mph.

We tested the High Power version and found the engine to be exceptionally smooth and power delivery refined. It develops its power at higher engine speeds and for this reason it has a maximum engine speed of 9,000 rpm - we found that you need to keep the car in the correct rev band to explore its true potential. The standard 6-speed manual transmission is superb offering light and precise gearchange's and although well weighted we found the clutch a little heavy going in stop start traffic.

The engine and exhaust note is raucous and truly addictive - Mazda have clearly designed the RX-8 with the enthusiast in mind.

In total, the Mazda RX-8 and its RENESIS engine have won more than 37 important automotive awards around the globe to date, including numerous UK awards such as ‘Best Coupe’ from both BBC Top Gear Magazine and Auto Express in 2004. In 2003 the Renesis Rotary Engine was named 'International Engine of the Year'. For more information [ click here ]

Fuel and oil consumption are on the high side - we achieved a little over 20 mpg during our time with the RX-8 and we understand that some drivers are using one litre of oil every 1000 miles.

How It Drove - Ride and Handling

Living in Devon, we decided to take the RX-8 to Cornwall for a visit to Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip restaurant in Padstow. The holiday makers had all headed home, so we knew that the roads would be empty.

On the Motorway and dual carriageway sections we found that the RX-8 was perfectly happy in 6th gear - apart from the occasional overtaking manoeuvre with 100 mph plus sales reps looming down on us. Side vision is not great although we do not tend to rely solely on side mirrors when overtaking, and found ourselves sometimes frustrated by the lack of rear quarter vision.

Driving on ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads is when you can really explore the potential of the RX-8 and on dual carriageways the theoretical top speed of 146 mph seems totally plausible, but we weren’t going to put it to the test. Being both nimble and relatively narrow the RX-8 is the perfect car for Cornish ‘B’ roads.

The compact size of the Mazda RX-8’s RENESIS engine has allowed Mazda’s engineers to place it more towards the centre of the vehicle, in a so-called front-midship layout. This allows for an ideal 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles, which makes a decisive contribution to the cars handling.

A newly developed chassis system with double wishbone front suspension and a newly developed multi-link rear suspension gives the RX-8 excellent on-road handling characteristics. Everything is pretty much as you would expect from a rear wheel drive coupe. Body Roll is minimal and levels of adhesion are high - the steering is well weighted and offers excellent feedback enabling you power into bends with confidence and exit with only the slightest hint of oversteer.

Mazda RX-8 Review | Part Three
RX-8 News

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