Mazda's RX-8 is unique and an absolute thrill to drive. It's been around for a while and is still the only rotary powered car on the market, but if it's driving dynamics you're after at a reasonable price, it definitely deserves a second look.
Unlike many of its peers, the RX-8 can't be described as sleek and refined. Instead it's rather brutal and a little rough around the edges, but in a good way. The styling is angular and definitely stands out in a crowd. The shape of the triangular rotary engine is carried through the vehicle's design in style lines as well as the actual shape of the bonnet.
The Rx-8 is as well-equipped as any modern sedan. Features include leather seats, sunroof, electric mirrors and windows, a six-CD radio with controls on the steering wheel, air-conditioning and keyless entry. The RX-8 has all the necessary comforts you'd want in a modern vehicle which is one of the reasons it's so comfortable to use even on a daily basis.
Everything in the Mazda's cabin is easily within reach. The RX-8 is spacious for a sports car, but it's still compact enough to ensure everything neatly surrounds the driver. The dials and controls on the centre console are straight forward and well-spaced. Although it's equipped with all the essentials it doesn't have any of the more finicky systems that are becoming increasingly popular. The rear-hinged rear doors allow easy access to the rear of the cabin.
Front passengers have copious amounts of space and will have no problem tackling the open road. There's also a surprising amount of room for rear occupants, but it will be a little cramped over long distances. But, the RX-8 actually has full seats in the back, unlike many of its competitors that try their luck with something resembling a kitchen shelf.
Our test unit displayed no irritating rattles and all the dials and controls are as good as new. There are no signs of wear and tear inside the cabin and everything is still in excellent condition. The leather and plastics are free of scuffmarks while the exterior has no sign of damage or scratches. Basically, it's in showroom condition.
The RX-8's trump card is the butter-smooth performance of its rotary engine. The engine emits a satisfying growl, but no matter how hard you try it never sounds over-extended. The 141 kW and 220 Nm on tap allow for hours of entertainment, but it also cuts into your fuel budget. It's tempting to keep your foot flat for the sheer fun of it, but make sure you can afford the fuel bill that goes with it.
Why not? If you're looking for a vehicle that offers fantastic driving dynamics, the Mazda RX-8 is worth a second look. It's not part of the super-sleek new roadster brigade, but it oozes character in a unique, rugged sense. Its angular styling belies the smooth performance lying under the hood and it's certainly a driver's car. But, because it's such a different vehicle, you really have to love it before you buy it.
Cylinders/capacity: 1 308cc
Power: 141 kW @ 7 000 r/min
Torque: 220 Nm @ 5 000 r/min
Compression ratio: 10:1
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Specific power: 107,7 kW/litre
0-100 KM/H 7,2 sec
TOP SPEED 223 km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 10,8 litres/100km