By on May 4, 2009

A longtime member of our Best and Brightest is shopping for a new/used car. Yes, I know: shocking. But there you go. But ccd1 doesn’t know which way to jump. His query:

I am beginning to shop around for a car and have gotten the search down to two cars: RX-8 and a used Cayman.  The top of the line RX-8 (Grand Touring or R3) is about the same money as a two-year-old Cayman. The upside of the RX-8 is that it has a back seat big enough for at least one normal sized adult. First year depreciation, however, is ugly ($7-8k).  Depreciation would be better for the Cayman, but it lacks a back seat and maintenance on the Cayman would be far more costly than the Mazda. So the question is which one should I choose?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

113 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: New Mazda RX8 or Used Porsche Cayman?...”


  • avatar
    1169hp

    Cayman. Who needs a back seat?

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Cayman. Not even close.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    post the biggest version of that. do it now.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Seems like it all comes down to whether or not you need a back seat. Back seat aside, no contest – Cayman.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Wow. I’ve done similar (non serious) shopping – job uncertainty is a bummer.

    My lame 2 cents…

    I’ve driven the RX-8 and only sat in a Cayman.

    Cayman. S. (from what I’ve read).

    Lease it for a year if you’re uncertain. Absorb the dealer experience – wait while being serviced.

  • avatar

    Cayman. Soon you’ll find the hot chick, one day you’ll wake up and she’ll be “mom”. She’ll discuss “baby”. This means we have to sell the hot car that ‘got her’ and get a minivan.

    When that happens, fight to keep the Cayman. You’d sell the RX-8.

    Why do you think there are Fiats and MG’s covered under tarps all over suburbia…they represent the life “before kids”.

    Buy the Cayman. Convince Ms. Wright that the car is a nonnegotiable. Keep it forever.

  • avatar
    sumitomotype65

    Simple decision really. Are you happy with your penis? Yes? Then go with the Mazda.

  • avatar
    skor

    I dunno, a used Porsche is like a hot chick from the Midwest who’s spent a couple of years in LA trying to get “discovered” — not something I care to dip my wick in.

    I’d go for the cherry RX-8.

  • avatar
    Michael.Martineck

    In my experience, I’m betting the Mazda ain’t all that much cheaper to maintain than the Porsche. More, sure, but not was much as you might think. It’s about finding a decent mechanic for the thing, after the warranty’s dead. There’s lots of on-line help for that.

    While they’re both excellent cars, the Cayman is just plain cooler. If you need a back seat, anyone you know will swap for a day.

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    Having driven both the RX8 and the Cayman it is my opinion that the Porsche offers a much more pleasant and sensory driving experience.

    Having owned a coupe when the kid came along, it is likely that a switch to 4 real doors (or a minivan) will shortly follow.

    My money would go to the Cayman …. or split the difference and get a cheaper used Boxster.

    …. and an RX8 is just as much a penis enhancement device as a Cayman, as is a 4×4 pickup, ….. I could go on sumitomotype65

  • avatar
    meefer

    Why not just get a one year used RX8 then if that’s your major beef with the rotary?

    Given the 2 choices, I’d go used Cayman if it’s a toy, RX8 for the daily.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Caymans are in the 30s now?

    You’d probably get a screaming deal if you shopped around for RX8s. I’ve seen thousands off for financing…RX8club.com members have financed for 8k off and paid off the car the next month with no penalty. You may even luck into an unsold 08. If incentives/discounts/desperate dealers aren’t taken into account, I’d lean towards the Cayman.

    Out of curiosity, what costs a lot to maintain on a Cayman if you’re changing your own oil and filters? Porsche shops often charge $100+/hr simply because they can. Also, have you driven either one yet?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve looked into the RX8 in the past. Very fun car, it’ll rev all day long, but the motor lacks torque. Also, from everything I’ve read, they are very fussy cars, but I don’t know if Mazda has sorted all that out by now.

    I’ve never driven a Cayman, but I’d bet that in R3 trim the RX8 would have a harder edge to it than the basic Cayman. The Cayman would be smoother though.

    Overall, I’m not a Porsche kind of guy so I would buy the R3.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Easy – the Cayman.

    Yes, the RX-8 is more practical, but who buys a sports car for practicality?

    Porsche repair costs are…steep – and that’s being nice. A Porsche tech friend of mine steered me away from a Cayenne due to the repair costs. (I still think it would have been a better way to haul around a wife and kids than the Jeep I bought.)

    If your wallet can support the $1500 – $2000 each trip to the dealer will cost you, and you can deal with the lack of a back seat, you really can’t beat the Germans.

    -ted

  • avatar

    Both really nice cars. You can actually use the RX-8 as a family four-door. I had a press car for a week, and my girlfriend’s daughter had no problem with the back seat. Heck, I sat in it, and it was fine.

    The Porsche, of course, sounds like Mozart, while the Wankel just whines (not unpleasant, but not inspiring). You have to remember to add oil to the RX-8. (Check the boards for other complaints.) And you’re never gong to get decent gas mileage–the range in the RX-8 is ~280 miles. If you want to be dissuaded from the RX-8, email me at [email protected] for my article on why the gas mileage can’t be improved. Before I wrote the article I was thinking of getting an RX-8, but that dissuaded me.

    Still, it is wonderfully balanced, with very precise steering. If they put, say, a small turbocharged 4 in it, I’d get one.

    If you’re anywhere near Cambridge MA, you could take the car to Marc Feinstein at German Performance Service for excellent service.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Independent Porsche mechanics are not hard to find, so you’re not stuck with the dealer for maintenance.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    What buying guidlines caused someone to narrow down a decision to a used Cayman or a new RX-8, having an engine that is certain to implode within 50,000 miles (IMS failure vs. well, complete failure)?

    A new (2008) Grand Touring PRHT Miata (based on a lighter version of the RX-8 platform) can be had for about $20K, and a nice mid-engined MR2 Spyder (I advise 2003+) can be had for much less.

    The RX-8 and Cayman are both unreliable track toys.

    If a person insists on spending $30K then the C6 is a really good car with much better reliability, and, unlike any current Porsche, a real targa roof.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Only experience is with the RX-8. A friend had one. It was a horrible experience for him. Poor reliability,awful fuel and oil consumption. He sold it and bought a Corvette.

    I would think a Corvette, especially with the fire-sale prices at the local Chevy dealers might be an option. Cheaper, faster. And any idiot can fix a small-block Chevy.

  • avatar
    pkor

    do you want to pay a bunch for repairs (rx8)
    or a lot for repairs and even more for insurance? (cayman)

  • avatar
    cpu

    RX-8.

    That girl will kill you if you touch the Porshe.

    cpu

  • avatar
    DrivnEZ

    Buy what you love and drive it with passion.

    Of the two, my choice is the German.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-porsche-boxster-engine-failures/

    Has Porsche fixed the IMS issue yet?

    Honestly, I love the Cayman, but Porsche costs and the IMS time-bomb keep me away.

    I’ll stick with my RX8. Going on 6-years old this summer, and been perfectly reliable daily driven and more track days than I can count. Maintenance costs haven’t been any higher than the Civic SiR it replaced. Actually, it’s been easier on brakes, but spark plugs cost more, so it’s probably a wash.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Backseats? Pfft, you should have a minivan or Camry for that.

    Porsche, easily.

  • avatar

    Used Elise or Exige.

    @Redshift: +1. -Didn’t the cayman get the same engine with all the IMS issues?

  • avatar
    JonnyMo

    I have a 2006 Cayman S. I drive it as my daily car and I love it. I actually looked at the Mazda RX-8 but went with the Porsche. I have 25,000 miles and except for routine scheduled maintenance, and new tires, it’s been trouble free.

    Downsides of the Cayman. No back seat. I was actually surprised that I missed it because my ex-girlfriend had a daughter and occasionally I wished I had a back seat. It’s NOT quiet inside. It is a real sports car, noisy engine and road noise. I have 19″ wheels and would instead go for 18″ for a more quiet ride.

    Best part. It handles like a dream, works as a daily driver and gets noticed. I was at Boeing Field, in Seattle on Sunday. My dad and I just got off from a 30 minute flight on a B-17 Flying Fortress. We got in my Cayman and had a few folks ask me about it. Also, I was parked outside a restaurant in Seattle, next to a new Pontiac Solstice. I watched people walk around my car, looking and admiring it. They ignored the Solstice!

    Bottom line. If you want a Porsche, like I did, get it. Otherwise you’ll always wish you had.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I drove a Cayman S once, and was blown away by it’s capabilities. Problem is, the thing has so much capabilities that unless you take it to the track, then you’ll never even come close to experiencing them on the street.

    And that’s one of four things I like about my Miata. I can explore its capabilities without seriously breaking laws. In the 35,000 miles I’ve owned it, it’s required tires, brake pads, a battery, and the routine maintenance timing belt and water pump. I did those myself. It’s pretty reasonable for insurance.

    The only caveat is that should you obtain a bright red Miata, you’d better be socialable. When people see this car, it makes them smile and it’s just plain rude to not smile back at them.

    You can budget anywhere from $5k to $15k and get a great used Miata. You’ll spend $2500 at the tire shop in probably 15,000 miles with the Cayman. Let us know what you do.

  • avatar
    MP

    Own 2002 Boxster
    Own 2007 Cayman
    Own several other interesting cars as well
    Have only driven RX8

    Love the first two! Precise handling, great fit and finish, good to great performance. Good mileage (~25). On both.

    Only minor repairs with the the Boxster (25K miles). None with the Cayman (8K miles).

    RX8 is nice but the power is harder to access. High revving and all… That and the interior is a little weird. But quality and fit and finish is typically Japanese which is to say excellent.

    Buy the Cayman (from a dealer) and enjoy. You won’t be sorry.

    Maybe Cayman and RX8 owners should weigh in. It’s not all about appearances. True?

    PS: Ron is correct. The Boxster is a little hard on tires due to the designed in camber. A set of tires is over a thousand and last about 15K miles. That is without sporting it around a lot. Don’t know about tires and the RX8.

  • avatar
    niky

    Mazda Miata PRHT.

    Then slap a turbo or a supercharger on it.

    Done. And done. And you still have change left-over for a secondhand minivan.

  • avatar
    bucksnort

    A two-year old Cayman still has the M96 engine. Better do some research in Excellence before you buy…December 2008 and February and May 2009 article, letters to the editor, tech-line.

    According to Excellence, the M96 has a 20% chance of failure….bad failure.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    With various police departments/counties doing all they can to “generate revenue” I second the sentiments of the Miata owner who suggested more fun at lower speeds. Both of your choices require a conscious effort to have fun, and are mostly boring when you are not breaking the law. I expect you could get equal enjoyment and more utility out of a 3 Series. It’s a choice that would seem less and less like a compromise as time went on.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    This is easy, Z4M coupe, or better yet M Coupe with the S54…Or what has recently displaced the Cayman S in my fantasy garage, the Ferrari F355 Berlinetta.

  • avatar
    Toy Maker

    I’d say buy the Cayman, drive it for however long and enjoy it to the max. Then sell it if you have to and buy a used RX-8 AND van.

    If you have a child, chance of little junior making a mess inside your RX-8 and ruining it is still 150%. And it hurts the resale value just the same.

    If you need the extra seats for occasional friends, you sir are a good man. But you have your priorities reversed.

    They should like you for who you are, not whether you can guarantee them a ride or not. Get the Porsche.

    “Hey Bill and Jesse, I bought this RX-8… just for you guys.”

    …AWKWARD!

  • avatar
    Schm

    Cayman. Stomach the higher repair costs (Think 300 dollar windshield wipers), being called a prick and decreased usability and bask in the mid-engined goodness of the bargain-priced 911.

  • avatar

    I’d buy an old Porsche 356 or a 912, but that wasn’t an option in this multiple choice quiz, so I’d take the second best: The Cayman. I’ve driven a couple of them and they are truly one of the best handling cars ever built.

    Back seat? I have kids and I don’t want a back seat! That’s what the wife’s car is for!

    –chuck

  • avatar

    Isn’t the answer to this question obvious to anyone else? Buy a used RX8 that’s already taken the massive depreciation hit.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I’d go for a BMW 3 Series Coupe.

    Twotone

  • avatar

    If you’re willing to go used–and it’s the way I’d go–then a used RX-8 is a lot of car for the money. There are plenty of them with almost no miles. I have no problem with the engine’s power curve personally. Fuel economy is mid teens to low 20s depending on how and where you’re driving it.

  • avatar
    Samir

    I’d go neither on those 2 options. Cayman is better without a roof (thankfully, that exists somewhere) and RX-8 is just too wonky with the rotary.

    If I had to spend 30,000 on a car of this sort, I’d consider a BMW Z roadster or a used M3.

  • avatar
    PG

    I’d go for the Cayman. I’ve heard too many rotary engine horror stories to consider the RX-8, and it’s more commonplace than the Porsche anyway.

    Also, what skor said = LOL.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Both freakin’ awesome choices, but personally I’d appreciate the additional torque of the Cayman.

    Have you considered a new 370Z?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Ask the honey in the picture what she wants to ride in. There is the answer.

  • avatar
    Axel

    Great looking body, but the nose is a little odd and the eye makeup is hideous.

    I’m talking about the car, of course.

  • avatar
    rx8

    Well as an owner of the 2009 RX-8, I can assure you this car is absolutely fabulous, everyone that sees it goes WOW…is that the new PORSCHE.

    It has the Perfect weight distribution of 50:50 unlike the Cayman.

    As far as handling goes, well according to Motor Trend, is is one of the best handling cars in America, in fact it rated it as Number 3 overall.
    http://www.motortrend.com/av/roadtests/112_0808_handling_contender_2009_mazda_rx-8_video/index.html

    Braking, it rates in the top 10 (at #10) for the shortest stopping distance, beaten by high priced exotics.

    The rotary engine, the 2009 RX-8 has had ALL the bugs ironed out, a completely new Oil Pump and Oil Metering System (from the yet to be released new 16X), the 13B does not have much torque, BUT wow does it rev and it is so smooth, I really Push my car at times and get on average 22 MPG, which I consider good, not that many cars overtake me.

    This car is an engineering masterpiece, quirky and different in the best way. It is a TOTAL JOY to drive… every time it puts a smile on my face, and I just want to keep driving her, not too many cars in my long motoring history has ever done that to me.

    Repair and servicing cost are not that expensive, far cheaper than any Porsche.

    More versatile than any other sports car.

    Get the Manual/Stick, a beautiful 6 speed gearbox.

    Zoom Zoom really does exist, it is NOT marketing hype.

    Buy the Mazda and you can have a Holiday with the savings.

  • avatar
    Tummy

    So we’re looking at the $30k range?

    Then I would choose a certified MB 2006 SLK55 AMG. You get a coupe and a cabrio all in one, plus a big v8 that sounds like an american muscle car instead of a hairdryer.

    There are a lot of very low mileage SLKs for very little money. SLK350’s are around $25k now. SLK55s are in the mid 30’s for an excellent CPO from a MB dealer, or high 20’s / low 30’s for non-superlative quality examples.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I’ve talked to three owners of the RX-8 and all love it. It even had favorable reviews on TTAC. The car is an electric motor of performance to 9 grand. Handling is spectacular, reliability is pretty good. I would get a new one with an extended warranty since there were some rumors in the past of computer problems with the car but that was quite a few years ago.

    Overall the RX-8 is destined to be a classic.

  • avatar
    rx8

    Oh yeah, the next car I will buy to keep my RX-8 company will be the new 09 face-lifted MX-5/Miata.

    It has the same (shorter) platform taken from the RX-8 and is another Joy to Drive, in a different way, top down, you don’t need speed, again so much FUN without the traffic fines!..

    Many Porsche Owners have bought the MX-5 an rate it higher…I wonder why???

    http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?s=f7415cfc6c88d168dd50952b2cfd24e4&t=206912&page=1&pp=25

  • avatar
    ingolstadt

    RX-8 = You can get a Cayman but you don’t want to.

    Cayman = You just can’t afford the 911

  • avatar
    kamikaze2b

    Why aren’t you considering the new 370Z? It puts up the same numbers or better as the Cayman at half the cost!

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    If you are under 6 feet tall and have even shorter friends, get the RX-8. At 6’4″, I couldn’t even get into the damn thing. I am looking for used 350z and Corvettes.

  • avatar
    amcadoo

    I considered both. But look at the hard facts. Current cayman engine has 20% failure rate by 60k miles. That means new engine, and the replacements fail too. Problem? I thought so.

    RX8 depreciate like mad. Reason? Limited life span of the rotary engine. You will not find a high mileage RX8. There is a reason.

    Answer? M3!!!!!

    Or 370z/350z

    But if you’re going with “gotta have it” get the cayman

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    A CPO Cayman will have warranty coverage for just as long as a new RX-8. Get the Cayman. It’s quicker, handles better (not by much, but still) and is overall the cooler car.

    The only advantage to the RX-8: Rear Seats. I loved my Boxster S until I needed to take my kids to school. My solution was a CPO 335i coupe.

    Drive the Cayman for a couple years. You’ll love it and you’ll never regret buying it.

    Make sure you get a CPO though, for any German car. You’ll need that warranty.

  • avatar
    rx8

    BTW:
    Forgot to add the Mazda RX-8 has the 3rd Highest Chassis Torsion/Rigidity which is a long way ahead of 4th spot, # 2 was the Ferrari F50 and First spot went to one of the heaviest cars made the Roll Royce (sorry can’t remember the model).

    So, is it any wonder the RX-8 is the Better handler than most Porsche’s.

    Incredible Value when you think it has one of the best brakes, suspension/handling packages around, and then look at the price… Great Value!

  • avatar
    Ronman

    This is possibly the hardest car choice B&B had ever had to choose.
    I adore both cars for different reasons and if i had the finances both would be sitting in my garage. so for me its a hard pick. but if you narrow it down, the trade off would end up being the virtues of a mid mounted engine against a front mounted one, and the ability to carry more than one person along… it’s up to your preferences to choose.

    in my current marital state i would go for the RX8,if i were still single the Cayman would be my choice with no hesitation…

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    Yes, but…it’s slow. Really slow. Especially compared to the WRX or EVO

    If it had another 100 HP it would be untouchable.

  • avatar
    V6

    for me, neither. but i’d probably say Cayman. i really am not a fan of the RX8 styling

  • avatar
    sutski

    Buy runaround for 10K and put the remaining 20k into gold.

    http://www.bullionvault.com make it real easy to buy the stuff in smalller quantities for only tiny commissions.

    It is at $900 a troy oz today…my bet is it will be $2000 by December…so you will then have 50K + a runaround towards a year old Tesla…Easy!

  • avatar
    Areitu

    amcadoo: There’s plenty of RX8s running into the 100,000 mile range with no problems. Rotaries aren’t rocket science and their lifespans are about as limited as the average piston engine. Their deprecation is probably related more to their low demand and heavy incentives.

  • avatar
    rx8

    RX-8 is SLOW?, compared to a WRX or EVO, and yeah they are a few more thousand dollars also!…

    SLOW?, 1min 31.08 sec around Top Gear’s track for the RX-8, same as BMW M3, Holden V8 Monaro or Pontiac GTO, 350Z….

    NO the RX-8 is not SLOW for a 1.3 litre.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Cayman.
    The RX-8 is nice, but it´s an unreliable gas guzzler.

  • avatar
    AnalogKid

    Unfortunately, I don’t pass the Top Gear Test Track on my way to and from work. Here in the real world, the lack of torque and the need to stay high in the rev band means that you will get beaten off the line by everything from tuned Civics to late-model Camrys (with 270hp, go figure.) If you can live with that, fine but track days are few and far between for me. I need my 300-odd hp around town:) Either car can be fun some of the time but I guarantee you will have a blast every day in a Cayman.

  • avatar
    rx8

    300 HP, what a ridiculous excess in the city…

    In the ‘Real World’ the TG TIMES are a comparison, and what do you think the Stig is doing with the Porsche’s, BMW’s, V8 Monaro’s, just cruising around the track at 4000 RPM????

    Any car that has a 0-100 in the mid 6.5sec is fast.

    Reliability!!!!, what like the Porches cam shafts that break at 50,000?

    I guarantee you will also have a BLAST in an RX-8 too. You will also have a Blast in an MX-5.

    Motoring is not always about power or speed, if you think it is then you need more age on your side.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Get the RX-8.

    What it lacks in straight-line performance, it more than makes up for in the corners (plus you can’t find an engine smoother than a rotary). And when it does count, you’ll have a usable back seat in a pinch.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Personally, I’d prefer the Cayman. However, if I was looking at the RX8, I’d take a hard look at the Genesis Coupe as well. I saw one on the road and it looked much better than in the photos. Haven’t driven one yet, but if I was looking in that range I’d check it out. Has anyone out there that’s driven the RX8 tried the Genesis yet? How do they compare?

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Buy the Cayman. Experience what it’s like to own a Porsche, even if only for a year. Like many others here have said, once you’re married with kids, it may be a while before you get another two-seater mid-engined sports car again.

    Years ago I owned a nice 911 C4, for about two years, before kids. Since then, I’ve owned many nice cars – BMWs, Benzes, Lexi. The neighbors still ask about that 911 every once in a while though, and not the BMWs, Benzes, or Lexi.

    Also, if the choice is a used high-end car or a standard new car that will depreciate like mad, then pick the used car. Lightly used cars like the Cayman (or that SLK55 AMG) have already taken the brunt of their depreciaton before you buy them.

  • avatar

    Cayman. You’ll always wish you had it if you chose the RX-8.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I guess I should expand on the question that TTAC originally posed for the B&B. My wife and I are in our 50’s and the only kids we have are of the 4 footed variety. The back seat on the RX-8 is a nice addition, but hardly required for our use.

    For clarity, a 2 yr old Cayman (not Cayman S) is in the $30-35k range in my area which puts it in the same range as the top of the line RX-8 (Grand Touring or R3) before discounts. Some have wondered by these two cars. The answer is simply that I love cars with great handling and these are two of the best handling cars on the market. I am also a BIG fan of relatively light cars because I strongly believe light cars with great handling are simply more fun to drive at legal speeds (or close to legal speeds). A Lotus would fit these preferences best, but is far too uncivilized for me and my wife would hate it.
    My wife also hates convertibles and I dislike the lack of versatility of convertibles. My preferences should explain why no muscle cars are being considered.

    The car would likely not be a daily driver, but would see extensive use on weekends. So it has to have enough room for most shopping trips. The gas mileage issue on the RX-8 does not bother me, the relative lack of driving range would likely bother me much more. Reliability is a concern for me for both cars, which is why I would prefer to own the RX-8 new (or VERY lightly used) to make sure maintenance is properly done. The Porsche has its reliability problems and additionally high repair costs.

    I don’t drive cars for their name plates and the only “babe” in the seat of my car will be my wife. As the saying goes “It’s cheaper to keep her.”

  • avatar
    Antone

    I recently went through the same shortlist of potential cars, more or less. A 996 911, a new 2008 RX-8, a 2006 Cayman or a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti Limited, I chose the Subaru. Having owned a turbo Miata, a S2000 and even a SRT-4, the RX-8 was perfect for me on paper. I couldn’t stand the engine noise. It sounded like a power tool. Other than that it was a great car for a decent price. I couldn’t stomach the repair costs of the 996 or Cayman, even through the 996 was a delight to drive, and the engine sound…mmmm. So I chose the Subaru. It’s a blast to drive, built very well, inexpensive to upgrade, great engine note, and it has a back seat (!).

    • 0 avatar
      kvolkan

      Thanks Antone! I am about to sell my mazdaspeed turbo mx5 (don’t fit into well) and am considering all of the above. The WRX STI has now bubbled up to the top of my list. The cayman is sooo tempting but the blown engine on my previous Boxster haunts me…don’t like the rx8 look. Any issues with the wry to consider?

  • avatar

    What lack of versatility in a convertible? A Boxster doesn’t give up much of anything to a Cayman unless you are taking it on the track, and the ability to put the roof down has occasionally let me bring stuff home from Ikea.

    I believe the IMS problems are resolved as of roughly the 2000 986, so the 987 shouldn’t have that problem. I’d go with the Cayman because there is just something that I really like about a Porsche (I do own a Boxster). Definitely use an independent mechanic.

    The RX-8 is appealing in every way except for that Wankel engine to me. I don’t want something that difficult to work on. Really it is a tough choice, back seats are nice to have sometimes.

  • avatar
    NN

    looks like most here are for the Cayman. I understand the predicament…tough comparison. But in the end, I’d probably opt for the RX8. It may not say “Porsche” on it, but in reality it is as exotic and original as any sports car out there. I love the RX8 for the fact that it exists and that Mazda is still willing to build vehicles so unordinary. Both cars are uniquely, and beautifully styled.

    Also, you can’t go wrong with the driving pleasure of either, but you can go wrong with the smart financial decision. The new car has a free warranty. That’s a big bonus.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    the porsche is prettier on the outside.

  • avatar
    John R

    How’s your driving record? The insurance folks tend look more favorably at 4 seaters. Guess that’s why 911s still have that shelf…er…back seat…

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I can say that I was on the same boat as you shortly before getting married. My choices were an econobox or a WRX/STi. This was 3 years ago.

    I went with the STi, and really have no regrets. My summer vehicle is the bike, and the STi is my winter warrior :) Dedicated winter tires are a must of course.

    I’d love to have a porsche — I drove an ex-bosses (stick) 2007 carrera 4s & loved it.

    The cayman is sex on wheels, but in that price range, I think I’d rather have an Elise (I say this having never sat in one).

    In any case, IMHO, for cars of this caliber a garage is required.

    Both RX-8 & cayman are equally rare around here (Chicago).

    If I had to chose between the two, I think I’d probably take a new/slightly used rx-8 (year or two). I imagine it would be much less beaten down than a used Cayman. A miata might be something to look into as well. I think you can get 3 year old miatas for $12-$14k.

    I’m trying to convince my wife this should be her next car :) She loves the Mazda5 however (we don’t even have kids yet!!).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I would go for the RX-8 unless you know a good Porsche mechanic. I haven’t driven a Cayman, but have spent time in a Boxster, so take the following for what you will. I have spent some time in an RX-8, though.

    The Porsche will cost you a lot of money unless you can find someone to work on it cheaply, and even then it’ll still cost a bit. The RX-8, if you take reasonable care of the engine (ie, use good oil, keeping a quart in the trunk and check your oil every time you fill the gas tank), is going to be a less headache-inducing car overall. Most of the reliability issues come from people who maintain the rotary like a piston engine and/or mod it and/or fail to pay attention to the oil requirements and/or owned a turbo’ed FD RX-7 and/or are repeating a meme with only limited truthfulness. People who have cared for the car as Mazda intended aren’t having problems.

    Meanwhile, European luxury cars are expensive, have always been expensive, and will continue to be so for some time. Mazda extended the warranty and is generally amenable to claims, if I recall, while Porsche’s take is typically German (either “it’s not the car’s fault” or “if you can afford a Porsche, the warranty isn’t an issue”). Porsche’s non-handling of the IMS issue vs Mazda’s performance in the same area should be a clue as to how you’ll be treated by both companies.

    I’m sure the Cayman is, in absolute terms, the more fun car to drive, but the RX-8 is still very, very good. From what I can recall of the Boxster, the RX is probably going to be a kinder ride, both in terms of harshness and control-ability. You can drive an RX-8 every day, and in some awful weather, and it probably won’t kill you as quickly as the Cayman might.

    Finally, there’s the image issue: the Mazda, at least to me, conveys “funky” or “interesting” while the Cayman, well, is a Porsche (and a poseur one, to some 911 owners), with all the baggage that entails. I’d also hazard the Mazda’s less boring to look at.

    • 0 avatar
      kvolkan

      Have to disagree with Mazda’s handling of claims. My mx5 turbo had a crack in the trans tail housing. I took it to them under warranty and they said no problem and replaced the tear trans seal. A year later after the warranty ran out it was leaking again. My independent mechanic put the car on the rack and called me down to his shop. There he showed me where the Mazda dealer had broken the trans housing tail and had then JB welded (ie epoxied) it back together. Rat bastards would admit to it though they were the only ones who had worked on the car previously. Mazda USA were of no help and refused to deal with the problem – absolutely horrible treatment. So I coughed up 1k$ and had the trans housing replaced. Great car, very reliable and fun, but I would never ever buy a new Mazda. I was the third owner of my Boxster when the engine blew, long out of factory warranty and Porsche (with some nagging on my part) eventually helped out substantially with my engine replacement. Very unreliable car, but felt I was treated decently by Porsche. Still, I would think twice before buying another used Porsche. I would have no problem buying a used Mazda without a warranty.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I own an RX-8. An ’05 bought new in 03/2006. I love it. It’s a great car and I don’t have any of the problems that seem to plague some of my rotary-driving brethren.

    That said, I’d walk away from it in a heartbeat if I could jump into any model year, trim level or option package of Cayman. I can’t even see myself looking back.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    RX-8.

    ccd1-

    You say you may use it for weekend trips for two people. Take 2 suitcases to the used car lot, and try fitting them in the Cayman’s boot. Then try the same thing with the RX-8. Hey, it’s boring, but it matters.

  • avatar
    corsa

    I have a 2002 Boxster with 45,000 miles on it. I have had zero problems with it, and the scheduled maintanence has not been that expensive. I also have an extended warranty on it good until 12/2010 or 100,000 miles, so I’m not too worried about the possibility of an IMS failure (which is closer to 5% than the 20% mentioned above.) I love the Boxster.

    I have a friend who just turned in his 2004(?) RX-8 after his lease was up. He loved it, but had a few problems with it (like some factory recalls, a couple occurances of engine flooding, etc.) He also had to replace his tires far earlier than I did (I replaced the original rear tires at 35,000 miles, the original front tires are due to be replaced soon.)

    I only drove his car once, but I was pretty impressed with the way it drove. However, the Boxster drives far better.

    If I had to choose between these two, I would definitely take the Cayman. Be warned though: driving a Boxster or Cayman will afflict you with an incurable case of “permagrin” :)

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    @ JonnyMo:

    Thanks for flying over my house in Bremerton on Saturday. The B-17 shook my windows, set off car alarms everywhere, and sent chills down my spine. What a glorious noise and fantastic sight! I love that she flies to Boeing Field every year.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Sean326880:

    A VERY practical consideration. I know the Cayman has storage in both the front and back compartments, but I don’t recall either being generously sized. The trunk in the RX-8 isn’t exactly big, but you can throw whatever doesn’t fit in the trunk in the back seat. The Cayman lacks that option. I would defnitely want to have enough storage space for a weekend getaway for 2. Fortunately for the Cayman, my wife likes to pack light.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Tough call. On the one hand there are lots of reports of early engine failure for the RX-8 rotary. On the other hand, I’ve heard enough morons talking about this engine that just don’t have a clue as to how it works and how it should be maintained that I take the reports of engine failures with a grain of salt. The Cayman definitely looks on paper like a nice car (I’ve never driven one), but reports of verifiable problems with the engines would have me worried, very worried. I can attest that the back seat of the RX-8 is big enough to fit a 6’1″ adult male, which can be nice. Also, while the trunk is small, the rear seats fold down providing you with considerably more room than the Cayman if needed. I also love the handling of the RX-8. Somebody mentioned the wonderful handling of a mid-engined car like the Cayman, you can’t get better balance than the RX-8’s 50:50 weight distribution. The use of a compact light rotary engine allowed the engineers to design a mid-engine car, with the engine still up front. However, the Cayman is a Porsche, and it should certainly garner more attention if that is what you are looking for.

    I do have one unequivocal recommendation, skip on a used RX-8. As noted above, you can’t count on the previous owner to know how to properly maintain the rotary engine, and that could lead to disastorous results results.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Lumbergh21:

    I agree with your recommendation for the very reason you gave. I would only consider either a new RX-8 or maybe one that is 1 yr old with VERY low miles.

  • avatar
    TheRedCar

    I bought one of the first 2004 RX8’s after it was a year old and had it since. I love it and Mazda’s extended the warranty on the motor to something like 7 or 8 years to calm reliability worried.

    All the other fears are from folks who can’t be bothered to maintain their cars. It’s not all that hard to check the oil every 1000 miles. That’s the only true quirk it’s got. Beside’s, if it’s using oil, then it’s a happy rotary. It’s when it’s not using oil that you need to be worried. That means it’s not getting enough revs and that’s what keeps the tip seals in good shape.

    That said, I’d buy the Cayman. If you’re considering it, you don’t need a backseat. The usable backseat is the one redeeming feature to the RX8 that can’t be beat.

    The only other point to the RX8 that I’ve enjoyed and wasn’t mentioned is that it can be a very relaxed ride if you’re just puttering around in traffic.

    Also, with snow tires, Believe it or not it’s a great winter car.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    notapreppie and TheRedCar:

    You both own RX-8s and say you love them, but you also say you would ditch your beloved RX-8s in a second for a Cayman. Why? What does the Cayman offer that you feel is lacking in your RX-8s??? How much time have you spent driving the Cayman?

  • avatar
    Setag

    The RX-8. I went to the track last weekend for two days and do you know how many Porsche’s passed me? 0 How many RX-8’s? 1

    The RX-8, with supporting mods, is absolutely wicked on the track. Handling like rails.

    Porsche’s in general are twitchy at the limit. The Cayman isn’t near the quality or power potential of the 997, but it isn’t meant to be either.

  • avatar
    TheRedCar

    ccd1:

    In full disclosure, I’ve never driven a Cayman.

    My theory is if you’re in a position where a 2-seater makes sense, then run for it. Because before you know it, life gets in the way and you can’t get one.

    That doesn’t change my opinion of the Cayman or the RX-8. I just see them as two different cars for different needs.

    Personally, I wanted the most refined yet athletic rwd, manual trans sedan I could get for about $25k. I’m five years in with it and it’s still the answer to that question for me.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Last fall, I bought a 50 week old Cayman S with 12000 miles on it. It was CPO’ed and so I had 5 years and 88000 miles of warranty left – better than the 4 year/60000 mile new car warranty. If there had been a similar deal on a Cayman, I’d have taken it and saved the extra several thousands. Either are fast enough for my 58 year old self. The front trunk will fit a cooler with a case of whatevers and the back trunk will fit a couple of small softsides.
    Regarding maintenance, I can only comment that its not like my old air-cooled 964 variant 911C4 – you don’t have to remove the engine every 30k miles to adjust the valves. Those services through the dealer run around $3K – if they don’t find anything bad. It would hurt even at an independent mechanic’s rates. I don’t think the costs of maintaining a Cayman/Boxster are in the same ballpark as the 911’s history indicates.
    As to driving it, it’s hard to push it without risking a serious ticket/insurance bump. Instead, I stay amused by not slowing for corners – and pretending the top 2 gears aren’t there. There are cars that can and have been coerced into handling as well as or better than a Cayman. But the Cayman is a natural – at least it feels that way.

  • avatar
    Toy Maker

    Maybe the Porsche can help you shop less. Just saying.

    I kid! I kid!

    Shoppping trips and sports car.. tough mix.

    How about a MX-5 for pure handling and dependibility, then go on shopping trips an get all your stuff delivered?

    (In other news, anybody else smell a troll here? Or is it just me..)

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Toy Maker:

    I’m not trying to make trips to Home Depot, but I was trying to convey the idea that I wanted a certain level (albeit minimal) of practicality. As I said before, the Elise would fit my preferences for light sports cars that handle very well. It is also impractical for just about anything besides its intended purpose of going from Point A to Point B.

    For me, a sports car has to be practical enough in terms of storage space to hold luggage for two people for a weekend trip (not suggesting that anyone pack heavy) and do the weekend running around errand/shopping trips. A car that isn’t practical for anything other than driving is just too specialized. I know the RX-8 has this amount of space because it has a back seat. But, I’ve love to hear from Cayman owners about their satisfaction/dis-satisfaction with the space in that car. If you consider that “trolling”, so be it.

  • avatar
    pbr

    Cayman.

    Disclosure: I’ve driven a Cayman S and have not for one second been even barely tempted by the idea of an RX-8. They’re OK if you like that sort of thing, but they leave me cold.

    That Cayman S, tho… the power, the sound, the brakes, the balance, the looks, the steering feel… Well, good God almighty, which way do I steer?

  • avatar
    TheRedCar

    ccd1:

    To the point of road trips, Upon reflection I see that We’ve used the RX-8 several times over the years for family road trips (Wife, 9 year old daughter and me).

    Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you consider that the wifes car is the ubiquitous anti-suv, a manual 05 Subaru Legacy GT wagon. You’d think that one would take all the road trip duties, but it gets left to winter ski-run only duties.

    The RX-8 such a better drive that the space trade off is a no brainer. Again, I have no idea how that compares to the Cayman, it’s just how time has shown how We’ve used it.

  • avatar

    Is the question-asker daffy?

    You can get a brand new RX-8 for ~$5000 off sticker – its nowhere near close in price to the used Cayman.

    If he has that kind of money, the Cayman is the no brainer.

  • avatar
    Anna Mac

    He should be a man and buy a Corvette. A Z06 blows the doors off both for less and with little maintenance. I thrash mine daily and it is problem free.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    pbr:

    A two year old Cayman S is more like $40K plus. A two year old base Cayman is in the $30-35K range.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Not a complete answer, but one of the issues with having the Mazda is that there will be virtually no shops with the skills to fix or maintain it.

    Rotary engines are basically dead in this market, and there are very few guys who know how to work on them. The guys who grew up tuning and tweaking them are getting older or finding other things to do, and you can’t just expect your local generic repair shop to fix it. You’d actually have an easier time finding a skilled Porsche mechanic, and they’re less likely to go out of business.

    Given your wants, the Cayman sounds like a reasonable choice if you can afford the maintenance and if you have a place to garage/store it, as it should maintain its value reasonably well. (Keep all the records, of course.) The Mazda would cost less to maintain and should be able to take more neglect, but it won’t be worth anything when you’re done with it.

  • avatar
    rx8

    / What a load of rubbish, rotaries DEAD in this market, mate you are looking in the wrong area’s, you have no Idea what you are talking about, I can still get NEW parts for 35 year old rotaries…try that with a Porsche..

    There are over 180,000 RX-8’s alone sold in the last 5 years.

    I love people talking out of their backside.
    YOU THINK A PORSCHE IS AN EVERYDAY CAR TO WORK ON?

  • avatar
    carnick

    I owned a 2006 Porsche Boxster S for 2½ years, which is essentially the same car as the Cayman (please, none of that Porsche marketing nonsense about their being “separate” models, the Cayman is a Boxster with a roof). My own personal experiences with and comments on my Boxster probably apply equally to the Cayman. I sold the Boxster because of the looming problem of IMS (Intermediate Main Shaft failure, the design flaw which afflicts all 986/987/997 engines through the 2008 model year). I personally am done with German cars, at least new(er) ones, pretty much anything German built since about the late 1990’s onward.

    The Boxster was a blast to drive, as are all Porsche cars. There’s nothing like a mid-engine car and its low polar moment of inertia for phenomenally neutral handling. But, while it was a lot of fun to drive, owning the Boxster was a different experience than a half hour test drive. It is a great combination of performance and luxury, and the Cayman is certainly “prettier” than the RX8 (though to my eyes the RX8 is more visually “interesting”). However, Porsche has also done a fantastic job of marketing itself over the years. The company has set standards for skillful product placement. So many movies and television shows have Porsches in them whenever “upscale, affluent” lifestyles or “beautiful people” are depicted. Porsche itself now touts the “Porsche lifestyle” in their marketing, just like BMW. Their efforts have been phenomenally successful. Most people think “Porsche” when they think “upscale” car, or “upscale” lifestyle. Just like the cigarette advertising of the second half of this century, a whole generation – us – now has Porsche successfully branded on our psyches as the “it” car to have. Most people that are – or want to be – “upscale” want to have a Porsche (BMW has been even more aggressive with brand image marketing, maybe Porsche gets the silver medal to BMW’s gold in this regard).

    For many years Porsches richly deserved that reputation. The 911, which started the whole legend, was for decades fun to drive, beautifully engineered, and reliable, the standard by which all others were judged. There has never been anything else like it. I’ve owned several air-cooled Porsches before the Boxster, starting with the 356. The last one I had was a 1993 964 series 911, one of the later air cooled ones, and will always regret selling it (the one that got away….). Unfortunately (IMHO), Porsches today have morphed into a different animal. After years of aggressive marketing, Porsche is now focused on maximizing profits.

    Think about this: Porsche’s company mottos in the past used to be “Excellence is expected”, or “There is no substitute”. For the past 10 years, ever since the introduction of water cooled Porsches, the official company motto is now “The most profitable car company in the world”. The IMS issue is what you get when a company – and its CEO – are focused on maximizing short-term profit, no matter what.

    If you take a close, critical, objective look at the Boxster (and Cayman), it is apparent that the company has gone through it with a fine toothed comb looking for ways to cut costs. They clearly looked at everything and asked, “will people still buy it for the same price if we do this”? The Boxster doesn’t even have a limited slip differential, which is shameful in any sports car. It even lacks an oil dipstick, instead using an electronic oil measuring system (might seem cool at first, but it’s a lot more straightforward, and reliable, to just pull out a dipstick and see the oil level and condition). Save $5 here and $10 there, the next thing you know, it’s $1,000 more profit per unit, an impressive accomplishment in the razor-thin margins of the automobile industry – and you’re on your way to becoming the ‘most profitable car company in the world’.

    People may poke fun at crudeness of Mustangs or the rattles of a Hyundai, but even in a $12,000 Korean car you can reasonably expect the engine to last 100,000 miles if it is given a modicum of care. In this day and age, when reliability is expected, selling any car, especially a $60,000 one, where 10% to 20% of engines can fail at any time, without warning, is reprehensible and completely unacceptable. Think about how people would react if 10%-20% of Toyota or even GM engines would fail unpredictably. People would take to the streets with torches and pitchforks like the villagers heading for Frankenstein’s castle.

    The IMS design flaw is just appalling. Take a cruise through the Boxster forums, and people who know much more about this than I do are estimating that somewhere around 10%-20% of Boxster (and therefore Cayman….) engines are failing prematurely due to catastrophic IMS failure. Porsche used to cover this under warranty, but as the number of engines needing replacement mushroomed, word is they have started to balk. That was the last straw for me – paying $60,000 for a car only to have a ticking time bomb for an engine, and the prospect that the company might not cover it under warranty.

    There were also a few other things that ultimately I just couldn’t stand about the Boxster – which screamed of cost-cutting and brazen attempts to reach into my wallet and empty it – which is why I sold it –

    1) The car is fragile. The seat leather was so cheap that every 4th or 5th time I drove the car I had to recondition the leather because it would wear through the dye. Buttons would break. Electrical components would fritz. The top was wearing holes through it (which might not have been tolerable if a replacement convertible top wasn’t $6,000).

    2) You can’t see the engine. It’s in a sealed bay, accessible only from the bottom. Engine access in a mid-engine car is always tight (I’ve had mid engine cars before), but the Boxster is specifically designed to discourage owner access and force you to bring it to the dealer for everything, since the only way to get to the engine is on a lift and by removing the belly pan. Which results in…..

    3) Maintenance costs are heart-stopping, and for no good reason. The Boxster was designed to make owners dependent on the dealer, and addicted to expensive – and not easily substituted – maintenance. Oil changes are $230. Brake rotors last about 15,000 miles. The final insult was when the dealer tried to shake me down for a $450 annual “comprehensive inspection”. When I asked why, they said that if I ever had a warranty claim – like, just maybe, IMS – they wouldn’t back it up unless they did this “annual inspection” to verify proper maintenance, no abuse, etc. Which means, the dealer wants a $450 yearly bribe just to honor the warranty the car came with. I guess the dealers are just following Wendelin Wiedeking’s example of vacuuming up owner’s money any way they can.

    I replaced the Boxster with a Honda S2000, and also own a RX8 as the “practical” daily driver. Overall, after owning all of them, the RX8 and S2000 to me just feel like more of a true enthusiast’s car. To me, the S2000 has similar performance, is much more reliable, and costs half as much. Every time I drive it I get a huge smile on my face, and can’t believe a car can be this much fun (in some ways even more “fun” than my 911, which was a fantastic but ‘serious’ car).

    And, I don’t worry about a ticking time bomb of a design flaw in the S2000’s engine waiting to grenade itself without warning or provocation like the Porches’s IMS Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of every owner.

    I know some people will consider it sacrilege for me to not unquestioningly worship at the altar of Porsche, and I’m sure I will no doubt be lambasted for my blasphemous comments. But, I’ve been to the top of the Porsche mountain, and while I absolutely loved my old 911 (totally, completely, even romantically), the Boxster just is not a Porsche from the “excellence is expected” school – it seems to be built by the same kind of people and mentality that brought us the current wonderful economy.

    Porsche’s CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, and his CFO Harald Härter, should be congratulated on their masterful and cunning, but also devious scheme in which Porsche acquired VW (though now even that little scheme is coming apart). Since hedge fund managers are among the lowest forms of life on Earth, maybe Wiedeking and Härter should get a medal for giving them a taste of what they have been doing to the rest of us. But, I think this also shows where their heads are at. They are not “car guys”. They are obsessed with profits at any and all costs. They are not focused on making great cars. Their priority is to come up with conniving tricks to make money. Good for them, and good for their shareholders (in the short term – profits may be up 52% now, but let’s see what happens in a few years as more people realize what the reality is with current model Porsches). But that doesn’t mean I want to be part of it and own a car built by these kind of people.

    The fantasy is that Porsches are built by bespectacled engineers in leather aprons, lovingly assembling each engine by hand. While there may have been some kernel of truth to that image in the past, today the reality is Wiedeking and Härter with a spreadsheet looking for one more corner to cut to make another buck (or Euro, as the care may be) today.

    Porsche owners can be very passionate about their cars. I used to be. That passion could easily become anger as people realize they were duped. Wiedeking better look out his window to check for a crowd with torches and pitchforks on the horizon…

    So, IMHO, I say, go for the RX8. Every time I drive mine it just feels special. It’s directly hard-wired into your central nervous system, you want to take it out just for the fun of driving. It is flingable and agile in ways that few other cars are (except perhaps the S2000 and Lotus). Mazda uses the term “jinba ittai”, ‘horse and rider as one, to describe the Miata. Having owned several Miatas (Miatae?) and RX8’s (as well as now a total of 99 cars in my life), I think the description applies much better to the RX8. Buy a year old one with low miles with the first-year depreciation already taken out of it, and you’ll have a fun, reliable, and much lower maintenance car for half the price of a Cayman. This is my second RX8 (a 2007, preceded by a 2004), both of which have been as absolutely trouble-free as Hondas I have owned. If you watch the oil level (since the engine is designed to use some) and keep up with basic maintenance (for a fraction of the cost of a Porsche), you can have as long and trouble-free of a life as any reciprocating piston engine.

    My bottom line, if you care more about what you think about what you drive, buy the RX8. If you care more about what other people think about what you drive, buy the Cayman.

    Wait a minute…. I think I may have seen this movie before. Let me think…. Glorious past history… great cars that were the standard of the world, that people genuinely wanted to buy…. Dedication to engineering and quality…. Then, mushrooming egos, sacrificing quality for the sake of chasing more short-term profits, obsession with money, growing disregard for the product which ultimately led to buyers getting tired of being burned and walking away. Isn’t this the same kind of myopic nonsense that got the American car manufacturers swirling down the porcelain bowl?

    • 0 avatar
      kvolkan

      ++1 Interesting you mentioned not being able to see the engine. That really bugged the sh*t out of me with my Boxster (the only time I saw it was destroyed on the floor of the Porsche dealer).. Now I get to look at the beautiful engines of my mustang and mx5 anytime I want and it is strangely satisfying!

  • avatar
    rx8

    carnick…
    Great (long) Read!, I very much respect your EXPERIENCE and knowledge.

    I could not agree more it is unforgivable the way Porsche are walking away from owners.
    Mazda America recognize there are a few issues with the RENESIS and give owners an 8 year warranty on the drive train.
    With my RX-8 (probably like Porsche) you just want to drive it every day, and you can suffer withdrawals if you don’t!..
    Like Randy Pobst says, the other more powerful cars are like riding a Bucking Bronco, where the RX-8 is like “Wings Bolted to your Arms”, a very accurate description.
    http://www.motortrend.com/av/roadtests/112_0808_handling_contender_2009_mazda_rx-8_video/index.html
    (Video After Commercial)

    If you maintain your Mazda which is very easy you can expect many years of unique trouble free motoring from Mazda’s Hand Assembled RENESIS Rotary Engine.

    Suspension,Power-Frame and Gearbox designs are the same for the NC MX-5/Miata and RX-8, the 2005~ Miata uses the same (shortened) platform as the RX-8.
    The ammount of Boxster and Cayman owners who have purchased MX-5’s is amazing, and 99% of them do not regret their decision.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Just wanted to update everyone on my decision. While my heart is with the Cayman, my head is with the RX-8 and this time the head wins. Both cars have reliability issues. My impression from the comments here and elsewhere is that most of the problems stem from owners who do not understand the maintenance requirements of a wankel engine. The Cayman issue, IMS, on the other hand, has nothing to do with how the car is maintained and is both truly scary as well as inexcusable.

    The other deciding issue for me is simply how I intend to use the car. Sports cars by nature are not terribly practical, but the RX-8 is about as practical as sports cars come. That practicality means that I can use the RX-8 to do most of the things I need a car for in my life. That means the RX-8 will be driven around town for weekend errands or golf tee times, not sitting in the garage waiting for when I have time to just drive it. The final nail in the coffin for me was reading a poster at another website who said he took a long trip with his wife in their Cayman. He could not sleep because, due to the location of the engine in the Cayman, I could not fully recline the passenger seat and find a comfortable sleeping position. My wife’s favorite activity in a car is reclining the seat and sleeping, something that we both like as it keeps her from being a passenger seat driver. It’s a small matter, but sometimes a small matter makes a BIG difference. My wife would HATE the Cayman for just this one reason.

    My overall impresion is that I would love the Cayman more upon buying it, but, as carnick said, over time, the costs/impracticality of the Cayman would quickly begin to wear on me. The RX-8, by contrast, would be less loved in the beginning, but would earn my love over time.

    So I am going to do one of two things: either buy a 1 yr old RX-8 (Grand Touring if I cannot get a good R3) or wait for the final model year of the current RX-8 which might be as early as next year and strike a hard deal for a new RX-8. Either way, I will avoid most, if not all of the stratospheric 1 yr depreciation on the RX-8 (which Edmunds estimates at almost $8600).

    Many thanks to all who responded

  • avatar
    Pch101

    you have no Idea what you are talking about

    As a former RX-7 owner, I personally know the pain of finding someone who can work on it. I was acquainted with every non-dealer mechanic within 100 miles of my home, and half of them sucked, which left me with very few options. Getting work done on a 911 would have been easier.

    The car was easy enough for DIY, but finding a pro to deal with the tough stuff was damn near impossible. The rotary is history, and there isn’t much reason for mechanics to learn about them. You’ll end up going to a racing shop, and you had better hope that the guy doesn’t retire before you’ve sold the car.

    I like the motor, despite their penchant for sucking down gas like it’s 1969, but dislike the lack of support. CCD1, do figure out who can work on the thing before you buy it. You may end up taking it to a dealer for everything involving the drivetrain that you don’t do yourself.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Pch101:

    I will check on that, but I am not too concerned. I live in the Washington, DC Metro area and am sure I can find someone to work on the car. The RX-8 is not an uncommon site here.

    I might be surprised by the number of independent mechanics out there, but I would think that Mazda parts and dealership labor costs are no more than what an independent Porsche mechanic would charge. I will check things out. I don’t like nasty surprises after I purchase a car.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Pch101:

    Just one more point. A lot has been made of the RX-8’s gas mileage and it is certainly worse than the Cayman’s. However, this class of car is not particularly known for good gas mileage. My personal feeling is that if the RX-8 had more HP and torque, no one would care about its gas mileage.

    The R3 is a new version of the car, but if it depreciates like the Grand Touring, which is closest to it, a one year old R3 with low miles should be around $23K. For that kind of money, I can live with mediocre gas mileage. Actually, the relatively limited range of the car before needing to refuel (due to combo of poor gas mileage and a relatively small gas tank) would probably bother me more than the poor gas mileage itself.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I would think that Mazda parts and dealership labor costs are no more than what an independent Porsche mechanic would charge.

    It’s not the cost, it’s finding someone who actually understands how rotaries work and can fix them when they break. There aren’t many who do, and because they aren’t like other motors, you need someone who specifically understands them. You don’t just take a rotary to Jiffy Lube and expect anyone to handle it competently.

    There are very few of these people on the ground. Seriously, check around first. There must be a local owner’s club or website that can help you find out.

    As a drivetrain, they are reliable IF you maintain them. They are fussy; you must watch them closely, and neglect nothing, but they are otherwise solid. The engineering is very good, about that there can be no doubt, and if you do your own repairs, they aren’t hard to work on if you take the trouble to learn. Even Clarkson loves the car, and it’s hard to get that curmudgeon to gush like that.

    Re: mileage, the fuel consumption for the horsepower output is poor. I like the sound and feel of rotaries myself; either you like them or you don’t.

    As for the rest of the car, Mazdas can be a mixed bag. Not quite a Camry, but probably better than the Porsche. What you save in repairs you’ll lose in resale value.

  • avatar
    rx8

    ccd1..

    RX-7’s are PAST HISTORY, Great Looking and yes slightly faster,but the RX-8 is BY FAR the easier car to live with and far more practical.

    Just to point out, the R3 has no better performance than a GT, the only difference being Recaro’s,Spoiler,and Bilsteins.
    If you are overweight you won’t fit in it,I got the GT version, much better to live with and not as hard on the ASS…and I am skinny.

    I guess the Resale Hit on a Porsche is not that good either. A lot depends on what you are trading to also.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    the RX-8 is BY FAR the easier car to live with and far more practical

    There are even fewer shops to work the RX-8 today than there were before to work on RX-7’s. Come on, get real.

    Notice that I’m not knocking the car, I’m just pointing out that there is practically no one who can fix them. Caveat emptor.

  • avatar
    rx8

    GET Real, which world do you live in…

    Since the release of your past RX-7 ALL new cars , repeat ALL cars are manufactured with more and more technology..to the point you can’t do ANYTHING on them apart from changing oil and filters, spark plugs.

    Anything electrical or PCM related you have to go to a DEALER who sell the brand of car you drive.

    This applies to EVERY car made today…

    GET REAL!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    which world do you live in

    The same one that CCD1 probably lives in, which is the one that doesn’t have many guys who can fix a rotary. Maybe yours is different?

    Since the release of your past RX-7 ALL new cars , repeat ALL cars are manufactured with more and more technology..to the point you can’t do ANYTHING on them apart from changing oil and filters, spark plugs.

    Well, that would be a bad thing for the RX-8 then. Don’t try to make things sound worse.

    If an Accord breaks, it’s easy to find someone independent to fix it. If you live in the right parts of the country and if you can stomach the expense, it’s fairly easy to find someone to find someone who can fix a broken Porsche.

    With a rotary, the price isn’t bad, but the talent is lacking. Even the Mazda dealer probably won’t have too many techs on staff who really understand the motors. I could count the shops who I had to choose within 100 miles on my hands, and I didn’t need all of my fingers to count them.

  • avatar
    rx8

    If an Accord breaks, it’s easy to find someone independent to fix it. If you live in the right parts of the country and if you can stomach the expense, it’s fairly easy to find someone to find someone who can fix a broken Porsche.

    Easy to repair ,yeah,really, what MY year Porsche and What MY year Accord are you talking about.
    I am talking about cars made in the last 5 years..current cars ,not crap that is over 10 years old..

    Over and OUT!!

  • avatar
    Lawrence9

    Go fot the RX-8. I own one personally and they are great on handling and speeding up through turns. Ride rather well. Body style is nice and the interior is great. Backseat is a good feature to have in the car compared to the cayman. Plus the price range on an RX-8 is 15-30k compared to the caymans 20-45k Mazda is great for everyday purposes in winter the rear wheel drive is easy to deal with all you have to do is put sand bags in the back. Good power and steering overall great car.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I am still pondering this choice. I feel more like a grown-up in the Porsche, but the storage in the rear is REALLY shallow. I am taking my clubs to the dealer to see if the rear passes the golf bag test. I am not optomistic about the Cayman passing the test. I’d be shocked if two cart bags would fit back there.

    I’m beginning to think that the ideal answer to my question is a RX-8 R3 for daily use and an Elise for warm sunny days. Both of these cars used would probably about equal the cost of a good used Cayman S. Together, the cars are more versatile and more fun

  • avatar
    ccd2

    I thought I would provide a brief update.  Still have not taken any action.  The Cayman is the object of my desire, but I just choke on the price.  Specifically, the best deal I’ve seen is around $45,000 for a ’09 base Cayman with around 5,000 miles.  I really do not want a Gen 1 Cayman due to IMS issues.  By contrast, a 2011 RX-8 is $32,000 and I have seen the car for as little at $29,000 and change.  A RX-8 of the same vintage as the aforementioned Cayman would be a little over $20,000.  Do I prefer the Cayman?  Yes.  But do I think the Cayman is worth the $20,000 plus premium?  So far, the answer is “no.” Both of these cars received significant mechanical upgrades in MY ’09 and I would not consider earlier models.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • jkross22: California now has 6 million more people today than were here in 2000. Total number of new power plants...
  • Inside Looking Out: “Not all car thieves are as dumb as some of the commenters.” Of course some of them...
  • Inside Looking Out: There is nothing sweet in Honda engines. They exude poison that kills all living creatures and...
  • Imagefont: Build thousands of homes in a forest that you know is going to burn. Then whine about forest fires burning...
  • dal20402: Seriously? No heated seats? If so, that’s some Grade A bullsh!t. They’re in the EX for...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber