Succeeding the RX-7, the Mazda RX-8 was first revealed at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. It began production in 2003 for the 2004 model year and ended in 2012 with the 2011 model year. Like the RX-7, the RX-8 utilizes a Wankel engine. Available as a two-door quad coupe, the RX-8 started development as early as 1995 with the concept car Mazda RX-01 and an early version of the 13b-MSP engine. However, it was only in 2001 when the RX-8 concept car was finally produced. The lead designer for the RX-8 was Ikuo Maeda, Matasaburo Maeda’s son. Matasaburo Maeda was the lead designer for the original RX-7.
The latest facelift on the Mazda RX-8 looks simple at first glance, with the new rear lights, front bumper and grille, and a larger bore exhaust tailpipe, amongst others. However, the changes on the latest RX-8 are more than just cosmetic. While the engine is still churning out the same level of power, the oiling system has been dramatically modified to incorporate a new pump and a bigger sump. Improvements on the oiling system were introduced to take care of the RX-8’s thirst for oil. Other changes include revised dampers and a 5.4% stiffer body shell.
The RX-8 has always been a pleasure to drive but with updates on the car it’s become even better. The rotary engine is still performing as it should but it feels even better to use with sharper steering that allows more precise turn-ins and tighter control of the body. And while the 40 profile tyres and 19-inch alloys look like they’ll get in the way of a good ride, they don’t. And they look absolutely amazing which also improves the overall look of the RX-8. Not that the RX-8 actually needs help in that department.
There’s also more value to be expected out of the RX-8, what with a nifty number of features fitted into it. While other gadgets are standard, many will still appreciate the Recaros seats, Bose audio system, and cruise control.
The Mazda RX-8 has stopped production so it’s only a matter of time before available units start disappearing. The RX-8 is not without fault and one of its gravest is the ultra-performing fuel-guzzling rotary engine. At 24mpg, fuel economy is way below decent enough and just won’t sit well with many drivers today. But the thing is, a rotary engine is not for everybody. The way it thirstily consumes fuel? That’s just the way it is. It is a guzzler but it’s an engine that sounds like no other. Just take its 9,000rpm revs. You won’t hear anything quite like it other than from a rotary engine. So in as much as you’re going to be beat with running costs when driving an RX-8, the experience is nothing like it. And that’s a positive thing! At least once, anyone who loves internal combustion engines (or basically all car enthusiasts) should have the honour of driving a vehicle with a rotary engine in their lives even at the expense of high fuel cost.
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