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Mazda RX-8 (2003 - 2012)

Last updated 11 May 2017

 
3
Genuine four-seat coupe with unusual rear hinged back doors, very involving to drive, good value for money second hand.
Will not stand short runs from cold starts, rotary engine lacks torque and needs to be worked very hard most of the time, high CO2 emissions plus poor fuel economy.
Updated 20 February 2006

500 Evolve Special Editions basd on 231bhp in one of two exclusive colours - Copper Red Mica or Phantom Blue Mica, unique dark silver 18-inch alloy wheels, a polished aluminium Rotary crest on the front...

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Introduction

When it was launched, Mazda called it 'a sports car like no other'. Given that it could trace its lineage to the RX-7, the cynic might suggest that wasn't quite accurate. However, at the time of its launch, there were no direct rivals.

At face value, Mazda's aspirations for the car were simple: get in there and nick some sales from everything from the Audi TT to the Peugeot 406 Coupe. But the RX-8 had a much bigger job to do - to once and for all dispel the myth that rotary engines were unreliable.

Things started well, but it wasn't long before reports started coming in of horrific oil consumption, worn rotar tips, and - you guessed it - replacement engines. As such, the attriation rate for the RX-8 is truely terrifying, with more than half of them wiped out in just over five years. You don't need us to explain what happens if that rate continues.

But, for the moment, let's try and concentrate on the positives. Here was a brilliant-handling sports car with four doors that can carry four people and their luggage (almost). It's comfortable, has excellent ride quality and looks... well, it looks ok. At the time, it looked stunning, but the years haven't been kind to the RX-8, which now looks like a bit of a Halfords special.

From a launch price of around £20,000, you can now get into a RX-8 for under a grand (but you wouldn't). A low-mileage model with a few owners and plenty of history will cost you around £5000 - although prices for good ones are on the up.

When Honest John first drove the car at launch, he was impressed with the four-door bodyshell. 'It works a treat. The back seats are not only easy to get in and out of, they're also very comfortable for someone 5ft 9in to sit behind someone of the same height.

'Flying solo, there's another advantage. It's extremely easy to pop open a back door to chuck a briefcase in the rear footwell or lay your jacket on a rear seat. Not a gimmick. Not for show. A real advantage.'

Next: Model Timeline
 

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