The Mazda RX-8 is a beauty inside and outside and pleasurable to drive.
The Mazda RX-8 is a sports car manufactured by Mazda Motor Corporation. It first appeared in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show. It is the successor to the RX-7 and, like its predecessors in the RX range, it is powered by a rotary engine.
The RX-8 began North American sales in the 2004 model year. The RX-8 is Mazda's follow-up to the RX-7 eight years after they ceased production of it due to lack of creature comfort and user-friendliness, coupled with the high price tag and declining interest in sports cars and coupes at the time
Development of the RX-8 can be traced to as far back as the 1995 Mazda RX-01 concept car, which featured an early iteration of the 13B-MSP engine. Naturally aspirated with side exhaust ports, this engine produced 220 hp (160 kW).
As prohibited by Mazda's financial state at the time and the growing market interest in SUVs, the RX-01 never saw further development or production. However, a "skunkworks project" engineering team within Mazda kept the development of the 13B-MSP alive using
Mazda MX-5 Miata
chassis, eventually catching the attention of management, which at this time had come under heavy influence from Ford. The project was approved and development of the car started.
The RX-8 was designed as a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive four-seat four-door coupé. The car has 52:48 front-rear weight distribution, and a low Polar Moment that is achieved by mounting the engine behind the front axle and the fuel tank ahead of the rear axle.
The front wheels feature classic independent double wishbone suspension, while the rear are independent multi-link. Weight is trimmed through the use of materials such as aluminium and plastic for several body panels.
The rest of the body is steel, save for the plastic front and rear bumpers. The manual gearbox model uses a carbon fiber composite driveshaft to reduce the rotational mass (moment of inertia) connected to the engine. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited slip differential for improved handling.
While its not quite in the league as the last RX-7 in terms of raw performance, the RX-8 is considered its successor as Mazda's rotary engine sports car. Its layout and clever engineering, along with typical Mazda suspension tuning, have endowed it with excellent driving dynamics which have garnered much praise and numerous awards. It has also proven popular in Japan among car enthusiasts as well as aftermarket equipment manufacturers and professional tuners.
A prominent feature of the RX-8 is a pair of rear-hinged "freestyle" doors (similar to suicide doors) in order to provide easier access to the rear seats. The RX-8 has no B-pillar between the front and rear doors, with the leading edge of the rear door acting as a "virtual pillar" to maintain structural rigidity.
Because of the overlapping design, the rear doors can be opened only when the front doors are open. Although by no means expansive, the RX-8's cabin was designed to allow enough room to house four adults, making it a genuine 4-seater rather than a 2+2.
Every RX-8 is powered by a 1.3-liter twin rotary engine, with an output that depends on the transmission. The six-speed manual version produces 232 horsepower at a 9,000 rpm, and is capable of a 0-60 run in about 6 seconds. The six-speed automatic gets 212 hp and a redline of 7,500 rpm. All RX-8s have 152 pound-feet of torque. Therefore, I'd suggest only buying an RX-8 with the manual.
The Mazda RX-8 is available at 3 trim levels: Sport, Grand Touring and R3.
The base,being the Sport comes with 18-inch wheels, performance tires, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack.
The Grand Touring gets a limited-slip rear differential, automatic xenon headlights, a power driver seat, memory functions, heated seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a Bose stereo, Bluetooth and a navigation system.
The R3 package adds slightly improved suspension over the base model by adding Bilstein shock absorbers and a foam filled front crossmember to improve rigidity.
The R3 also comes with 19-inch BBS-forged aluminum-alloy wheels and high performance tires. On the exterior, the R3 has a different, lower front bumper sporting a splitter, lower side sills, and a standard rear spoiler. There is a pair of special Recaro seats up front, along with the same 300-watt Bose audio system, Bluetooth, and Mazda advanced keyless entry and start system.
Prices start at about $25000 making it affordable for most people however watch out at the fuel pumps 'cause these cars can guzzle quite a bit. Otherwise mazda rx-8 has ample grip through corners and has quite a responsive steering wheel.
The rotary engine requires high engine speeds to make serious power, but the delivery is virtually vibration-free and noise levels are subdued. If you like a smooth engine, the Mazda RX-8's is second to none.
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