By on May 5, 2010

With the Mazda RX-8 being pulled from the European market for its rotary engine’s inability to pass the new Euro-5 emissions standard, we should have guessed that its days were numbered in the US market as well. Perhaps the fact that the model is one of our favorite enthusiast options available in the US made us hope against hope that it would soldier on a bit longer. No such luck. According to Motor Trend‘s “well placed source at Mazda’s North American Operations,” the RX-8 will be phased out “most likely after the 2011 model year.” And probably not just for the obvious fuel economy or capacity-utilization reasons either: RX-8 sales peaked at 23,690 units in 2004, and have been in steady decline ever since, moving only 2,217 units last year.

But, the MT guys remind us that we shouldn’t give up all hope just yet:

Does this mean Mazda is giving up on rotaries? No. Remember that North American sales of the RX-7 ceased in 2002, a full two years before the RX-8 made its debut. Mazda’s market-by-market wind down of RX-8 sales may indicate a shift of resources towards the long rumored return of the RX-7.

Here’s hoping Mazda comes back with a worthy successor in 2013.

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83 Comments on “Mazda RX-8 To Be Discontinued In US Market...”

  • avatar
    John R

    Here’s to hoping for a triumphant return of the RX-7 that’ll give the Cayman a cold sweat.

    In the mean time…here’s to RX-8s for the low-low.

  • avatar

    Com’ on Mazda! Build ’em light and wind em tight!

  • avatar

    The weight of a 4 cylinder engine, with the power of a 6 cylinder engine, and the fuel consumption of a V8. Don’t forget to add a quart of oil every couple 1000 of miles! So long renisis.

    • 0 avatar

      +1, and sadly, that summarizes the value proposition of the rotary engine.

    • 0 avatar

      RX-8 is ok with oil. It’s much improved against what Mazdas used to be.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Pete Zaitcev:

      You may be right on the oil consumption thing, but that is not the public perception. Just say “Ford Pinto”, and most people don’t realize the gas tank thing was responsible for ‘only’ 27 deaths rather than the hundreds as commonly believed.

      It’s gotta be tough to sell a rotary by constantly telling customers that the former problems are solved. Actually, since they’re cancelling the US and Euro product due to pollution regs, I guess the problems are not really all fixed.

    • 0 avatar

      To be truthful:
      * The weight of a three-cylinder
      * The packaging efficiency of an electric motor

      The rotary is what allows Mazda to make such a small, light, balanced car. About the closest you can get to this configuration is Subaru and Porsche’s flat engines, and even they are much, much larger than the wee little rotary.

      Have a look at it one day: it’s a tiny little thing, all back of the axle and directly in the middle of the car. Very nicely laid out.

    • 0 avatar

      The issue with the Pinto wasn’t that 27 people died. The issue is that 27 people were burned alive and dozens more had the same experience but survived. I’m not sure how you plan to go, but being immersed in flaming gasoline is not high on my list.

      Also, Ford could have prevented most of those events by investing $6 in a safer bumper design. Yes, that’s $6 in 40-years-ago dollars but it’s still relatively trivial money given the overall benefit. There are still people who won’t buy Fords because of the Pinto issue.

      I’m not sure the Renesis engine is quite in the same league (burning a little oil is not usually fatal) but I’m sure public misunderstanding is a big issue with this engine. I happen to know about it and it would not bother me, but people expect a good engine to consume very little oil when it is new. They view oil consumption as an evidence of trouble with the engine, and that assumption is true with most engines – just not with this one.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      You got that right. As the owner of a 1973 RX-2 (Mazda’s first rotary), it depresses me that people are reporting the same fuel economy that I got back then — about 20 mpg highway. Admittedly, the engine in my RX-2 was less powerful than the one in the RX-8, but it had no ECM and used a 4-bbl. carb to get fuel into the engine. And, I’m sure the RX-8 is better aerodynamically than the RX-2, which was a small sedan.

      The oil issue never bothered me; it’s just like a 2-cycle. The oil needs to be mixed with the fuel to lubricate the engine. It gets burned up in the catalytic converter, so there’s not a big pollution issue.

      I’m surprised Mazda doesn’t include a separate reservoir for the oil that is injected into the engine, with a warning light that advises people when it needs to be refilled. Funny, Toyota did that on the Previa minivan, because the engine was relatively inaccessible, being under the front seats. The front seat had to be rocked back on a hinge to access the oil fill for the engine and the dipstick. So, Toyota just put a reservoir in the front of the car (where the accessories and other fluid reservoirs were) and had a system that automatically added oil from the reservoir when it was needed. (In my experience, it was almost never needed.)

    • 0 avatar

      In June 2005, I purchased a new RX-8. I am retired now, having owned three RX-7s over the years (1979, 1983, 1986). With the exception of the mid-range torque issue, there is not a doubt in my mind that the RX-8 is the best effort from Mazda yet.

      After 5 years, I only have 18,000 miles on the car, obviously I don’t use it to commute. But, I have taken it on two cross-country trips from Arizona to Rhode Island and back. Here’s what I learned about oil consumption with the rotary: if your driving is predominantly in the city, it will use more oil, especially if the A/C is on. On the highway, oil use is almost nonexistent. On each of my two trips, totaling more than 6500 miles each, I used only one-half quart of oil. At my age, my days of hot-rodding are pretty much over, but find a winding road and the car is an absolute blast to drive, easily the best-handling RX yet. Then there’s the issue of gas mileage. If you have the will power, I’ve found that I can get 17-18 mpg in town – on the highway I can get a steady 23 mpg IF you can stay at 75 mph or lower – and that is NOT easy. I will be sorry to see the RX go – I wish Mazda could figure out a way to improve gas mileage, if they don’t, the next generation rotary won’t get great sales either. I’d even consider a piston engine as an option if it keeps the car on the market. As for now, I’m keeping this car indefinitely – it’s been trouble -free and I’ve gotten nothing but praise from people on its looks – some people don’t even know what kind of car it is!! Mazda was making a mistake by not advertising the car more.

    • 0 avatar

      Some corrections to your assertions: The engine weighs alot less than a 4 cyl. It also has more horsepower to liter of displacement than any other car on the road 178.46 horses per liter. For the large amount of horsepower (and it isnt even a turbo) it puts out the fuel mpg is acceptable. Side note: it has few moving parts and less wasted motion and friction, that is why it can easily rev to 9,000 rpm and beyond except for the rev limiter. Higher redline than an M3 or S2000. Also it was voted 3rd best handling car in America for under $100,000. It beat out the M3, Corvette and may other cars costing 2-3x as much and it hasnt had a major redesign, just a few minor updates in suspension. All in all for low 20’s ( I just paid 21,587$ for a 2010) you can get a car that has braking (70-0 158 feet) in Ferrari territory, handling that beats an M3 and so balanced.Oh and did I mention that its shifter is top notch also? Ive never had better (and Ive owned BMW, SaaB, Audi, Toyota and many others)

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Mustang is such a performance bargain that it’s hard for anyone to compete.

  • avatar

    Problem is that it no longer really has the “performance of a V6” 232 HP from a car which starts at over 27K is just not enough.

  • avatar

    Since the day this car became available I’ve thought it was the answer to a question nobody was asking.

  • avatar


    This is one of these vehicles.. that done right… could have been a big deal.

    The car has been on sale since 04… and its the ’10 m.y, coming on t he ’11 m.y thats 7 years for a sports car.. and not just a knuckle dragging overweight slob… a nice corner carver.

    The vehicle is hardly advertised..
    It doesn’t have the upper specs that the Japanese or European models do. Heck.. I cant say Ive even seen one.. not in silver or Black.

    They are nice sporting cars..
    But I also think the point of them and their inherent design is lost. I also think the door design.. is a poor choice in safety.

    It does surprise me, that they didn’t follow through and update it.

    And it doesn’t surprise me that its being canned.

    This is the same company who pushed a midsized car.. as a sedan, a hatch and a wagon.. against 3 SUVS / CUVS and the variations of the sedan go.

    Nice car for what it is..
    Sucks they tilted the deck against it

  • avatar

    The RX8 was a disappointing replacement to the great RX7 series. No torque and drank almost as much oil as gas. The “2+2” design was insulting to the marque.


    • 0 avatar

      The RX-7 had even less torque** and drank even more oil. It sold miserably, too. People forget this, but the RX-8 actually sold very well and comes out on top of just about every comparison review it’s been a part of.

      Remember, this is a four-seat, four-door car with perfect handling in a body a little shorter than a 911. RX-7 owners complained, but considering how few RX-7s were actually sold, Mazda was right to go a different way.

      ** Unless you got the turbo version, which worked great right up until it blew the engine. It did this so regularly that the rotary engine’s reputation was more or less destroyed, even when NA models were actually pretty good

    • 0 avatar

      @psarhjinian: Actually the last model of RX-7 was turbo only. Not sure about the reliability. I think it is good as long as it never overheats and you change the oil regularly. Although, that’s probably true of a lot of engines …

  • avatar

    We are entering into dark days for the automobile as performance fades in favour or economy. As coupes, manual transmissions, V8 motors, RWD, and all the things that once made owning and driving a car worthwhile all dwindle away forever to a very few remaining choices, we are soon approaching a day wherein we are left with an automotive landscape consisting of an endless sea of bland, flavourless, underpowered, 4-door sedans and crossovers.

    Let the recent crop of neo-classic muscle coupes shed a hopeful light for a better future. But, it is surely only a matter of time before the Camaro, Challenger, Genesis, and mighty Mustang take the bullet and fade away as our last vestiges of automotive fun.

  • avatar

    I think that in this case Mazda is responsible for committing the cardinal sin in the automotive industry of neglect. If Mazda wanted the RX-8 to continue to be competitive they needed to improve the product substantially every two or three years. And I am not talking about adding goofy body kits and calling it a sport package. The engine should have been refined and improved every 2 or 3 years to enthusiasts interested. Also why was there never a MAZDASPEED RX-8 in production? I suggest that the fate of the RX-8 was the result of Mazda’s ultimate neglect of the Renisis engine.

    • 0 avatar

      Shows how little you know about Rotaries, the RENESIS has evolved to where it is as the latest and greatest. They are not like Banger engines, they do not respond to the same “tweaks” as a banger.
      30 years ago the same 1308cc Rotary had 120 HP less than the 1308cc Renesis engine used today in the RX-8. Mazda have almost Doubled the HP in the 13B NA Rotary…I see that as a HUGE leap forward.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, you misunderstand me. I am not saying that Mazda failed to progress the rotary engine beyond it’s humble beginnings. I am saying that in order for Mazda to keep RX-8’s sales numbers up, it needed to offer a bump in power or efficiency every 2 or 3 years. I have no doubts that the next rotary engine mazda sells will be an improvement over the one in the RX-8. What I am saying is that Mazda needed to refresh the engine throughout the years the RX-8 was selling… much the same way that Honda periodically would increase the HP in the Accord: 240 -> 244 -> 271.

  • avatar

    Being a prior owner of an ’07 RX-8 I’m sad to see it go. Changing the oil never bothered me but I can see how others would find it annoying and/or neglect it.

    The RX-8 was in a tough spot. Given how costly it is, once work started on the new rotary engine it’s hard to justify additional resources to improve the current one, especially if Mazda knew it was close to its limits anyway. Sales of just over 2k/year are incredibly low especially considering as the current car is only in its second model year.

    Even so, despite a) only getting 20mpg in mostly highway driving (if lucky), b) the oil inconvenience and c) remembering to never turn off the engine unless it’s warmed up lest it flood, I would definitely consider an end-of-run special edition RX-8 to tide me over until the next car. I found it to be as fun as my Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow only 20 MPG on the freeway? Are you sure about that?

      I once lambasted the PT Cruiser because I *only* got 25 MPG on the freeway…

      Conceptually, I liked the RX-8, but the rotary motor leaves some things to be desired.

    • 0 avatar

      Geo, 20 mpg sounds about right. I was chatting with a salesman when my daughter was car shopping last year, he told me he traded his RX8 for a Mustang GT because he needed to get better gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, 20 mpg if I was lucky. That was in combined driving, about 60% highway. Of course if I lived closer than 37 miles from work it would have made it a little more palatable and this was in the days of $4 gas.

      RWD + potentially snowy winter conditions was another reason it had to go in addition to the fact that 5 seats as opposed to 4 was sometimes needed lest we take two cars on a family outing. Others would not be inhibited by such constraints and I would still highly recommend the vehicle if it works within your limits.

    • 0 avatar

      “”Sales of just over 2k/year are incredibly low especially considering as the current car is only in its second model year.””

      HUH???, Second Model Year, the RX-8 started production in 2003 as a 2004 MY, so far it is up to 2010 MY, that is 7 years of production with a TOTAL of 185,000 Sold World Wide.

    • 0 avatar

      @Wizerud, I can relate to the long drive in the morning. I had a similar situation when I lived in Atlanta. With 20MPG mixed, and the distance, I can certainly understand the need to find something more economical.

      I know there are GM LSx swap kits for the RX-7, I wonder if there’s something similar for the RX-8? Or would that be heresy?

    • 0 avatar

      @rx8 – I chopped off the last part of that sentance – “since its big refresh in 2009”.

      @geozinger – the fuel economy alone would not have been reason enough to give it up but combined with everything else it was. You kinda know going in what sort of mpg figures you’ll get so that was no surprise but the distance to work (+22 miles each way), the family situation (+1 baby) and the price of gas did change during my course of ownership hence the need for a switch. The other reasons were just icing on the cake.

  • avatar

    Well, since I’m actually looking to buy one in the next year or two, this isn’t really bad news… I wonder what kind of final year models things will look like, and what incentives Mazda’s going to be giving to clear out their inventory…

  • avatar

    This closes a chapter regarding the Wankel engine’s attempt at life over a period of 40 years.

  • avatar

    Does the turbo 4 from the Mazda Speed fit under the hood?

    But it is about time. The slow, oil sucking rotary needs to go.

  • avatar

    Great handling car with room for adults in the back seat (unlike the much larger and heavier Mustang). Both my wife and I loved test driving the RX8, but I couldn’t buy one due to a lack of head room in a sun roof equipped version (my wife insisted on a sun roof). I know it is purely subjective, but I liked the high whining sound of the Renesis engine at high rpms as much as the roar of the Mustang V8, completely different but equally beautiful to my ears.

    I vaguely remember a sports car track challenge performed by Motor Trend that included many “true” sports cars (e.g. Corvette ZR1, Viper, etc.), where their track driver (can’t remember who they got to do this test) said the RX8 felt the most like a Formula 1 racer and the car that he would want to own and drive, despite its finish near the back of the pack in most of the tests (it just didn’t have the power to run with the other cars).

    Finally, the use of a more conventional motor in a car like this would ruin the handling characteristics that set it apart. The beauty of the rotary engine is its compact size and low weight. The renesis engine makes the smallest 4 cylinder look positively huge and bloated.

    • 0 avatar

      Room for four midget adults maybe, my 7 yr old bitched about the leg room riding in my brother’s (which he quickly disposed of) and that was with me making out with the dash in the front.

  • avatar

    This is sad. I love a real sports car with a real back seat and four doors. I drove one for a week when I was writing about the engine, and I loved it. The driving dynamics were superb.

    The engine, alas, there’s really nothing that can be done to make it fuel efficient. Anyone who’s interested int he details, email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you my article on that subject. I wish they could have put a piston engine in it, with turbos. The dynamics might not have been as good, but it would have been much more practical.

  • avatar

    I had a 2005 Shinka RX8. Loved it. Car I regret selling the most. MPG did suck – I never got 20mpg at all. But it handled better than anything else at that price, and I loved the looks.

  • avatar

    I don’t think people get this car, which is fair.

    I don’t think enthusiasts did, either, which is foolish. Far too many supposed car people wrote this car off as too thirsty, too slow, too “seated”, completely neglecting the fact that, despite all this, it’s probably the most perfect driving experience you can get, up to and including cars costing an order of magnitude more.

    The much-maligned rotary is part of the magic: it’s a tiny, perfectly-shaped engine that enabled Mazda to build the rest of the car. Dropping a turbo four in there would wreck that; dropping a V8 in would be a travesty.

    Short of the E39 5-Series, I can’t think of another vehicle that the buff-books and Consumer Reports both gushed over.

    I think what this car shows, shamefully, is that enthusiasts, by and large, are troglodytes and poseurs. We may say we want a perfect-handling car, but when the chips are down we’d probably be fine with, oh, the most recent Impala SS.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think people get this car, which is fair…. I think what this car shows, shamefully, is that enthusiasts, by and large, are troglodytes and poseurs. We may say we want a perfect-handling car, but when the chips are down we’d probably be fine with, oh, the most recent Impala SS.


      Look at all the above fuel economy complaints – about a performance car? WTF – there aren’t gripes in Prius forums about its handling at 4.5/10ths.

      The RX8 is a scalpel that’s a blast to drive in twisties at moderate speeds. The engine is a joy to rev and rev.

      Oil consumption??? Who effin cares in a car this good for $30K?

      And if you need the torque and straight line acceleration that pulls the hairs of your mullet to a 90 degree angle, just buy a freakin’ V8 Camaro.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with ihatetrees…

      Been reading your replies to others above.
      I agree and you are doing a good job of trying to keep this sensible.
      It’s sad, since to me, this is one of the best looking sports cars around, and with a working rear seat to boot.
      It’s laughable when I read comparisons above to the Mustang.
      Look, I like the Stang and have been a fan since the Beatles, but it has no rear seat.
      It’s really a place to put a briefcase and nothing more.

      But this little car is beautiful.
      It’s really sad, to me. I wish upon a star they could have developed this engine more so this whole experiment would work.

      I am a torque guy and like to feel a push from red lights…so I never considered this car, except for driving once up to highway speed.

      I am no engineer, but why wasn’t this car turbo charged or supercharged

    • 0 avatar

      I am no engineer, but why wasn’t this car turbo charged or supercharged

      Predetonation is a huge problem for a rotary engine: Mazda tried this with the FD RX-7 and it cost them, both in warranty dollars and in reputation.

      With a piston engine you can simply retard timing to deal with crappy fuel. With a rotary that’s much harder to do, and when boost pressure climbs, one good *boom* and you’re looking at a new housing, rotor, or both.

  • avatar

    This thing is the most over hyped POS ever.

    • 0 avatar

      Even Jeremy Clarkson loves this car, and he’s not afraid to call a spade a spade.

      Ever driven one? I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago. I have never driven a supercar, but this car is a blast to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      Overhyped by who? Mazda? Their advertising for this car was almost non-existent once it had been out on the market for about a year.

      The owners? The press? No, the car really does drive that well.

    • 0 avatar

      Over hyped by OWNERS of RX-8’s who know what they are talking about…fool

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, and I guess that would be you…

      Well, in that case you should probably be able to tell the difference between overhyping a car and just being enthusiastic about it while defending the car against some of the myths that surrounded it. But hey, I was just an OWNER, what do I know.

      What exactly was overhyped about it?

  • avatar

    It might help sales if it didn’t look so weird. But, then again, it is, after all, a Mazda, which is kind of like saying that if your aunt were a man she’d be your uncle.

  • avatar

    The RX8 is like the S2000. It elicits strong responses from people, either positive or negative – you either “get it”, or you don’t.

    It never ceases to amaze me that the most strident critics of the RX8 (or probably any car) are those people who have never owned one, and probably have never even driven one (which naturally makes them supremely qualified to render expert opinions, particularly when they are solely their own personal subjective emotional reactions).

    There are few absolute “rights” or “wrongs”, or “good” or “bad” when it comes to cars. It’s all about personal preferences, and what you like. Neither vanilla nor chocolate are good or bad, it’s whatever floats your boat. I drive an RX-8, it’s my second RX-8 and the 4th wankel vehicle I’ve owned in my life, so naturally, I like it and have positive things to say about it. It doesn’t mean it’s the car for everyone. But regardless of what one thinks about the RX-8, it is absolutely unique, and it is very sad to see it go.

    I’m a hard core car fanatic. I’ve owned exactly 100 cars (yes, literally… it’s a disease) in my 37 years of driving (yes, I’m probably “older” than most people here, I’m not a “fanboy”, but maybe a fangeezer). I’ve had many different kinds of cars… American muscle cars, European sports cars, including several Porsches. But, for my personal tastes, the RX-8 is simply one of the most fun cars I have ever had.

    The RX8 is definitely not for everyone. It is truly a purists car, a car for the non-conformist and hard-core enthusiast (I always thought it a little ironic that they tried to make it “practical” with “4” sort-of doors and a useable back seat, but then, that’s also what lets me use it as a daily driver). In many ways it is more fun to drive than a Boxster S or 911 I previously owned (and at a fraction of the price). The RX8 is the ultimate tossable and flingable car. Its purpose is not to be a drag racer or muscle car. Its all about balance, refinement, precise handling, agility, and the *feel* of the car.

    Yes, it doesn’t have much torque. So what? Neither do Formula 1 race cars. Some people get their thrills from stop light drag races, and just mashing the gas pedal to the floor in a straight line. There are lots of cars for them. If you have never driven a RX-8, the first time you feel the unbelievable smoothness of a rotary engine winding out to 9000 rpm, sounding like a jet turbine spooling up for takeoff, it’s like cocaine. The engine revs and zings like a motorcycle, it’s absolutely infectious. The chills it sends down your spine make you want to bump up against the rev limiter with every shift. The car is so light, has such great balance and such a low polar moment of inertia, it feels like it pivots instinctively around turns. Other than the S2000 (which is my other car), this car is the next closest thing to a 4-wheeled motorcycle I have ever driven.

    No car is “perfect” and does everything well. Everything in life is a compromise of one form or another. The RX-8 trades torque and gas mileage for what it does offer. People talk about a sports car “fitting like a glove” and becoming an extension of the driver. To me, that’s *exactly* what the RX-8 is all about. It’s such a fun combination of a smooth, free-revving engine with a tossable, neutral chassis. With many performance cars you really need to push them at >8/10’s or at supra-legal speeds to get the feel of their handling capabilities. In the RX-8 I have a blast taking turns at legal speeds. The car changes direction so easily, so naturally, and the engine revs so willingly. The engine and chassis really fit well together. The RX-8 just would not be the same car with a piston engine. On top of cramming all this pleasure into a uniquely fun car, they also made it comfortable enough and with a sufficiently compliant ride that I can drive it every day or take it on 600 mile trips and arrive feeling refreshed, or take 3 people and luggage in the car with me – and have styling that might not be “classically beautiful”, but is certainly unique and stands out with its own Japanese anime distinctiveness in a world of increasing blandness and conformity.

    Mazda itself uses the term “jinba ittai” in describing its philosophy behind the Miata. The direct translation of the Japanese idiom is “rider and horse as one.” Ironically, I think it actually applied so much better to the RX-8. The Miata is a lot of fun to drive as well (I’ve also owned 2 of them over the years). But I think the RX8 is even so much more fun to drive than the Miata because of its rev-happy, turbine-like rotary engine and overall higher levels of performance – it truly seems to capture the jinba ittai spirit.

    If you care about “statistics” (0 to 60, 1/4 mile times, etc.), the RX-8 is not the car for you. If you care about how a car *feels*, about having it directly hard-wired into your central nervous system, about being an extension of the car and part of the road, then you “get it”.

    Mazda should get a medal for sticking with the rotary for as long as they have. In the end, I personally am not surprised that it didn’t make it, emissions notwithstanding. There are far more American buyers who want a grunting torque spewing muscle monster than an refined agile eclectic sports car. It was always a niche market at best, which was sustainable in good economic times, but not in recessions. The RX8 was a bargain for the fun drive it offered – Lotus offers similar tossability but at a much higher price, and the only comparable car (in “feel”) in its price range was the S2000, which is also R.I.P. A race car for the street but on a working person’s budget.

    To me, the RX-8 and S2000 are a blast, plain and simple. Which is why I have one of each, and will keep driving them until they pry my cold, dead, lifeless fingers from the quick-ratio steering wheels and precise short-throw shifters.

    So, whether you liked the car or not, let’s have a moment of silence in tribute to the passing of one of the great true pure enthusiast’s cars of our day. It may well not be back, and like the old saying goes, sometimes you don’t really know what you had until it’s gone.

    • 0 avatar

      Couldn’t have said it any better than this. Looking for a true sports car experience with sedan practicality at a dirt cheap street price? You won’t find one after the RX-8 disappears. When it is time to replace mine, I’ll probably buy a used Cayman and tell potential passengers to take the bus.

      *EDIT* Scratch that…I could not fit my hockey equipment or drum set in a Cayman. I’ll have to get another RX-8. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you, Carnick. That was the most well-written comment I’ve seen on any site in a long, long time.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 Carnick. I also agree with ihatetrees.
      I am always surprised to read comments from most on the “low gas mileage” or “high oil consumption” or “detonating engine” problems of Rx7s and Rx8s. Because my experience in driving nothing but Rx7s from 1988-2009, and now a recent 2009 Rx8 for a year are COMPLETELY different. My first thoughts are “are these people taking care of their cars?!”

      First off, I’ve only owned 3 cars: A 1988 Mazda Rx-7 GXL (normally aspirated), a 1994 Mazda Rx7 (as someone said, only available as Turbo-charged), and now I have a 2009 Rx8 as I mentioned before.

      My gas mileage for the 1988 Rx7, combined City and Highway (75% city on a daily basis) was 20mpg. With the 3rd gen Seq. twinturbo version (more like 75% highway by now) was 22-23mpg….and this was after I had the car’s stock 255hp bumped up to 320 with Pettit Racing mods!!). And now, with the 2009 Rx8 (same combined city/Hwy ratio as the 3rd gen), I’m getting 25-27 mpg…constantly…in a car 300 pounds heavier than the 3rd gen, an admittedly less hp, but with a slightly larger gas tank. 20mpg???!! What kind of gas are people pumping into their Rx8s?!!

      So I’m constantly wondering, how are these people driving their Rx7s/Rx8s…or do they have one in the first place :-), and are just going on hearsay, or the word of someone that drives much differently than the norm?

      By design, all of my rotaries consumed a small (& I do mean small) amount of oil…but I never REALLY noticed it because it was always time for an oil change (every 3000-5000 miles) by that time!

      Never had any problems with the turbos on the 3rd gen. None at all. Didn’t even have a turbo timer, but after a long highway/high speed drive, if you have to stop at traffic lights (& most of us do!), or simply leave the engine running/idling while you walk to your mailbox to get the mail, No Problem!

      I fell in love with the smoothness of the rotaries (good grief!), cosmetic appeal, & the fantastic braking & handling (for the money). They are not for everyone, but nothing is.

      Mazda’s Ad campaign ’round 1988-’90 used to be “It Just Feels Right”. And that aptly describes the sensation of owning & driving these balanced cars.

      After 15 years of ownership, I totaled my 3rd gen RX7 in a rainstorm here in Florida after hydroplaning, spinning/sliding, more spinning/more sliding, and slamming into something concrete (lol) @70mph. No inguries to me (Thank God!) except for a few scratches..even though the car was on fire when I stunbled out of the wreck and walked away; but that was the end of the 3rd gen.

      The very next day, I went to the Mazda dealership, and even though I knew PERFORMANCE-WISE the RX8 couldn’t hold a candle to the 3rd gen’s Overall performance (which was lighter, had more horses…especially in post-stock mode), I figured enough of the “feel” and appeal of the rotary-uniqueness would be there to soothe the loss. And it is! Corners are STILL a BLAST (OMG) in the Rx8.

      And even though torque is nowehere near the 3rd gen’s stock (which the sequential-turbo design addressed specifically), for some reason the Rx8 still seems to be on the spry-side when taking off. No, not snap your neck to the seatback headrest, but still spirited; and remember, I’m used to driving the 320hp, 220+ torque, 2800lb version of the 3rd gen 7 as a daily commuter for the last 15 years!

      And on top of all this, I have 2 very useable backseats, a trunk, and I’m getting better gas-mileage to boot. So I applaud Mazda for developing 2 of the most unique “recognized IN THE PRESS, by professional drivers and laymen alike,” FUN FEELING/HANDLING/DRIVING Rotary-Driven CARS!

      And BTW, whoever the poster was, I saw (& think I might have Saved it?) that article titled something similar to “America’s Most Handling Car”, where Prost (I think was the pro driver) rated the Rx8 3rd…above the 350z, Skyline, and several much more powerful cars, in terms of feel and handling. Think he said driving the Rx8 was like having wings attached directly to your arms. Maybe I’ll look for it when I get home (I’m @ work now :-))

      I just found out today about the Rx8, so I’m hoping this means the Rx7 is coming back REAL SOON… the next few years as has been rumored for quite a while. And if it does, I’ll have the Rx8 paid off by then :-). I can’t imagine Mazda being able to sell ANY Rx8s (even if they were still selling good) if they had their FLAGSHIP back in their lineup.

    • 0 avatar

      “Yes, it doesn’t have much torque. So what? Neither do Formula 1 race cars. Some people get their thrills from stop light drag races, and just mashing the gas pedal to the floor in a straight line. There are lots of cars for them. If you have never driven a RX-8, the first time you feel the unbelievable smoothness of a rotary engine winding out to 9000 rpm, sounding like a jet turbine spooling up for takeoff, it’s like cocaine. The engine revs and zings like a motorcycle, it’s absolutely infectious. The chills it sends down your spine make you want to bump up against the rev limiter with every shift. The car is so light, has such great balance and such a low polar moment of inertia, it feels like it pivots instinctively around turns.”

      Describes the experience I had test driving one. I owned an RX7 previously, so I had a general idea about what to expect. My wife who drives a Mustang, was afraid to rev the engine up to where it belonged, but still raves about the cornering of the RX8 whenever the car comes up in conversation.

  • avatar

    As an owner of the Series II (2009) RX-8 I think I am “qualified” to talk about this car.
    I have not regretted ONE MOMENT in buying this Superb Sports Car, after driving for over 40 years and owning almost 50 brand new cars, from European, Australian, Japanese and thank got Not one US made car. The RX-8 gives me a thrill like NO other I have owned.
    Yes, it uses Gas…SO WHAT…I do not buy a Sports Car for Economy. The Rotary engine is what MAKES this car. It has more than enough Power and living in a highly regulated (camera) Country it is PLENTY fast enough. The Handling, Steering, Suspension and Communication between the driver, engine and road is again..Faultless.
    Yes, Mazda had a few issues with the first Series (thanks to Ford’s penny pinching), but ALL makes and Brands of cars do, after 2 years and 30,000 KMS of ownership I have not had ONE fault or problem with my RX-8…NOT ONE.
    Big deal I use one Litre of Oil every 5000 KMS, Many other brands of Piston Engines can use more, like Subaru, Toyota and even Porsche. And we know these makes have also had Engine Failures.. If you have never owned an RX-8 you are missing out on something VERY Special in the Automotive World…it is a keeper.

  • avatar

    “”carnick “””…
    Well said…from a person who KNOWS the RX-8 and KNOWS cars…
    It is a REAL SHAME that more “DRIVERS” have not experienced Ownership of the RX-8, even after 10 years since the Evolv, there is STILL NOTHING in the market today that comes close to the RX-8.
    It would have to be the best bargain of the Century.
    I plan on keeping my 09 RX-8, along with a new MX-5 (soon I hope)with the PRHT (retractable hardtop), another Classic Mazda.

    In life one has to own/experience at least one Classic 2 door convertible, it is a real pity Mazda lost the opportunity to throw a RENESIS Rotary into the MX-5…what a Blast that would have been.

    Rotor on….MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmMMMMMMMmmmmmmMMMMMMMmmmmmm

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks rx8, it’s nice to know there are some people out there who are passionate about cars, and driving.

      It’s puzzling, this obsession some poeple have with “handing someone his ass” with a big muscle car. A street drag race is not a test of any kind of driving ‘skill’ (especially with an automatic transmission) – it’s just a technical comparison of power-to-weight ratios of two cars. There’s not much skill in simply mashing a gas pedal to the floor, all one has to do is keep the car pointed in a straight line. A monkey could literally do it, or even a mechanical plunger to just push the pedal down. Or, for that matter, why even bother – just look up the 1/4 mile specs for each car, and you have the “winner”. Where is the “skill” in that? How does that make one person “better” than another?

      There is definitely a visceral appeal to raw “power”, and getting pushed back into the seat. Professional drag racing is a sport that tests many variables that are up to the driver, from building their own engine, to finesse in shifting a brutal Lenco drag shifter.

      Even more so road racing. Sweeping, decreasing radius turns, balancing over- and under-steer, momentum vs. powering out of turns, finding the best line through a corner, picking the power and torque outputs of the engine… that’s the ticket. Autocrossing, or if one is lucky enough to have a run at Lime Rock or Road Atlanta… that’s heaven, and exactly the kind of experience the RX8 emluates in daily driving. That’s a test of skill.

      But when a drag “race” happens on the street, all it means is that some poor soul has such deep self-esteem and self-worth issues that he thinks he is somehow “better” than the driver in the next car because his car has a higher power-to-weight ratio (and they tend to not like RX-8’s because their fragile ego wouldn’t be compensated for because a RX-8 can’t “beat” some cars in a juvenile streetlight drag race).

      It seems like the only “looser” in a race like that is the person who cares about it. Maybe they should spend their money on psychotherapy to deal wit their inferiority issues and why they think cubic inches will make up for it (“mine is bigger than yours”) and not on some hulking V8.

    • 0 avatar

      For the Money the RX-8 and MX-5 are GREAT Value, and continue to out-do many other more expensive cars. What makes these great are the precise surgical feel when cornering at any speed, their suspension set up with multi links and alloy A frames designed similar for Formula 1 cars. Take what professional drivers say when they judge these cars, you do not need massive amounts of power, it is always HOW the Power is used and transmitted. You need to live with these cars to appreciate them, going back to a traditional BLAND Appliance just does not cut it. Mazda are GREAT with Chassis, even their Front Wheel Drive models really do not feel like it (except for Torque Steer in the MS3). I have driven BMW’s and Mercs and in many cases Mazda do a better job than most European Brands because they have a better power to weight ratio with a lightweight engines behind the front axle.
      I believe Mazda will be back with a next gen RX-8 (why not keep that name) in a few years and provided the US economy bounces back??.
      Rotor ON…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Emissions and fuel economy concerns almost completely killed off the rotary engine in the 1980s. This is just the death rattle.

    A cool car which will be collected an enjoyed by enthusiasts for decades to come. Soon to be gone from production, but many of the examples living in the wild will be around long after their Mazda-3 cousins have been sent to the scrap yards.

  • avatar

    An old army buddy of mine used to race me in my 96 Riviera in his RX-8. We’d go stoplight to stoplight (how the majority of people race) and I’d defeat him soundly. I was the designated driver one night and got to experience it first hand. The handling was cool, but I couldn’t get over seeing such high RPMs and so little get-up-and-go. To each their own I guess. Still, I hate to see ANY vehicle legislated to death. Manufacturers should keep making powerful vehicles people want and tack the resulting fines on to the price. This consumer certainly wouldn’t mind paying extra for a rolling middle finger to the powers that be.

    Couldn’t help but notice someone (I’m on a cell phone and too lazy to scroll back to who posted it) mentioning people being fine with the recent Impala SS as though it was somehow not a good car. I actually own one and don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact I derive a lot of pleasure out of humiliating anything a teen decides would look cool with an oversize spoiler or coffee can exhaust. I also keep my window down and my Chopin blaring to help end the redneck, mullet stereotype. I wonder if people who’ve had their asses handed to them by powerful, American sedans perpetuate the redneck stereotype out of spite?

    • 0 avatar

      I realize that everybody has their own tastes, but as I sat in traffic next to an Imapala the other night I thought that it looked like it was designed by a guy who didn’t like cars for people who don’t like cars. It would be hard to design a blander car. In comparison the RX8 is the Mona Lisa.

    • 0 avatar

      Couldn’t help but notice someone (I’m on a cell phone and too lazy to scroll back to who posted it) mentioning people being fine with the recent Impala SS as though it was somehow not a good car.

      That was me. I didn’t say that the Impala isn’t a good car, but that for what most people—check that, most enthusiasts—want out of a car, it fits the bill: it’s cheap, it’s big, it’s fast, it has a V8 and it gets good mileage.

      What bothered me is that, on one hand, we have enthusiasts crying for light, agile, rear-drive, perfect-handling cars regardless of power and when we actually get such a car we diss it. That’s hypocritical: if you want a car for residential-street stoplight drag-races and fuel economy and space matter to you, then it really does sound like the Impala SS is the car for you.

      Of course, those same people won’t admit that the Impala SS is really what they want.

      Personally, I liked the V8 W-Bodies, though I was more a fan of the Grand Prix than the Impala. I picked on the SS because I think comparing to to the RX-8 really highlights the cognitive dissonance at play, here.

  • avatar

    You have to OWN an RX-8 to really appreciate it, not a designated drive, I fail to see how one can judge Handling of any car where roads are straight or between “stoplights”…How Boring…the old my dick is bigger than yours..Goes to prove sophistication and class is alive and well in the US….and Impala…OMG, gee that is a beautifully made and sylish piece of tin.

  • avatar

    Well, the bright side is that Lotus may pick up a few sales from the cancellation of the RX-8.

    Unfortunately, not too many cars these days go out of their way to “Add lightness.”

  • avatar

    This is a shame.

    Who else but Mazda would have the guts and vision to bring a car like this with a rotary engine to market? GM did work on rotaries years ago but never brought it out for sale.

    Crying shame.

  • avatar

    Wish it was a hatch!!!!

  • avatar

    I’m sad to see the RX-8 go, but at the same time I’m amazed it’s stuck around this long. It’s a fantastic car to drive- exceptional handling and a very eager personality. Lots of sports cars handle well, but the RX-8 (much like the Miata/MX-5) had a certain ability to be light on its feet yet always remain composed, even when you had it pitched into a corner with all four tires howling. It was the kind of car that encouraged you to seek out new routes to find more corners.

    Having said that, the motor was a deal-breaker. Oil consumption is normal for a rotary and isn’t a big deal, but the fuel mileage was abysmal. Most owners report mileage down in the teens. A Corvette makes an additional 200 horsepower while carrying more weight and still manages to get better mileage. That’s fine if the car is your weekend toy, but if you’re driving daily it’s hard to put up with the mileage of an F150 in your compact sports sedan. There’s also a significant number of owners who report having low compression and ended up having engines replaced before reaching 100k miles.

    I looked hard at the RX-8 when I bought my Mazda3 back in 2005. The difference in purchase price seemed small for so much more performance, but the Mazda3 seemed like the safer long-term purchase. The RX-8 had been out for a year at that point and there were already reports of poor fuel mileage and flooding issues. Five years later my Mazda3 has 100k on it. If I had purchased the RX-8 I surely would have had more fun driving, but I would have spend thousands of dollars more in fuel and I’d likely be pricing an engine replacement about now if I hadn’t done it already.

  • avatar

    Anyone who thinks Lotus will pick up sales from the RX-8’s demise should think about cutting back on their “recreational” drug habit. The Evora is the closest car Lotus makes to the RX-8 and it costs 3 times that of the Mazda. The Elise would be less expensive, but it has no rear seat and is far more primitive in terms of amenities/comfort/etc.

    The RX-8 was a reasonably practical true sports car, a real rarity. Interestingly, there is a fair amount of chatter on as to whether there will be another Cayman. I hope this is not the beginning of the end of remotely affordable practical sports cars

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe that’s were Mazda blew it: they should have gone more upscale where fuel economy and impracticality are not a deal breakers. For example, stuck with the turbos from the last gen RX-7.

      Catering to the weekend toy crowd (where the RX-8 would be their third or fourth car) may be the only way to market a car like this.

      The Lotus owners I know (OK, three people) all have plenty of other rides in their stable and only use the Lotus on weekends and for track days.

  • avatar

    Bleah. I love my 04 RX8 – I plan to keep it for as many years as I can.

    But then I’m quirky, and I like the idea of compromising a bit of performance for more convenience. But most people dont’ seem to like that ‘middle ground’ – they either want a car that’s high-powered, or a car that’s highly fuel-efficient, or a car that’s highly convenient. Something that does a little of each of those just doesn’t have the appeal it needs to survive.

    It has been an interesting ride, and I will be sad when it ends, but I will enjoy it while it lasts.

  • avatar

    I didn’t even think this generation would be around past 2008. I leased one in 2004. Black GT w/ navigation. After seeing the RX-8 get 1st place over the G35 and Slobra in an ’04 Car and Driver comparison test, then seeing the great lease deals I was sold. Many will never “get” a car like this and I think driving this or a Miata comes from a sense of maturity in your car enthusiasm. Power does not equal great in all cases.

    The car felt solid as a bank vault. Interior quality was right there with the best in materials and feel. The rear doors were brilliant for throwing the gym bag or groceries in the back seat. I loved the gear box and the singing rotary engine. It was geared right so it always felt fast and zinging it to near 9000 rpms is an experience everyone should feel. I never did find the limits of the handling but it was so balanced and light on its feet.

    Mazda promised a more powerful “MazdaSpeed” 8 for years teasing us but they never delivered. A turbocharged 2 door would have made a perfect RX-7.

  • avatar

    Can someone please tell me just WHAT exactly is so awesome about this funky thing and it’s rotary motor? The doors were supposed to let adults enter and exit in a dignified manner, but it has the back seat room of a sports car, not a GT, so they couldn’t sit back there with any dignity anyway. I guess an engine you can pick up and carry with your own strength is a cool concept, but that’s hardly a reason to put up with 4 cylinder power and V8 fuel economy. You need boost to put it in real sports car territory, but the apex seals like to pop when you do that. It has the balance, the poise, the handling of a real sports car, but then again, so does/did the 350z, the genesis,the evo and/or WRX, even the mazdaspeed 3 and miata, which are IN HOUSE PRODUCTS!

    Good riddance. And next time Mazda if you are bringing back the RX-7, don’t leave it to die on the vine frozen in time while it’s competitors advance and surpass it in nearly every area.

  • avatar

    Interesting reading the owners posts about the RX8. I wasn’t very familiar with its qualities but am now. Too bad not enough buyers “got it” as with the really poor sales I’m surprised the car lasted as long as it did. IMO the rotary engine light weight not withstanding just isn’t capable of the modern performance of a piston engine and a portion of modern performance includes good fuel economy vs. output. The RX8 suffered from both low fuel economy and low output which probably had a lot to due with the dismal sales. I think Mazda has proved beyond a doubt the rotary engine is a failed concept.

  • avatar

    I’ve never driven an RX8 or an RX7. Can any tell me, besides the slightly low gas mileage and the slightly higher oil consumption, how is it for a daily driver? Is the ride harsh since it’s a sports car? I have Infiniti G35 coupe experience — how does it compare to that?

  • avatar

    I use mine as a daily ALL the time and it is a Blast…
    Boy there are SO many IGNORANT Comments, I guess from pimple heads.
    Yeah, the Miata is a crap car too, not enough Power, but the worlds most successful 2 seater which has beaten ALL it’s challengers, and it still remains, the RX-8 is the Platform originator of the current MX-5, extended with the two rear doors and the Rotary.
    IF you do not get it you never will, JUST to educate yourself about 18 mths ago Motor Trend did America’s BEST HANDLING CAR/Track tested…the RX-8 came in 3RD, it even beat the Nissan GTR and the Corvette, …

  • avatar

    Hang on.. it Could have been the Mazda Miata/MX-5 which also came in 3rd a year later as MT’s BEST Drivers Car 2009…It Beat the Corvette also, and the Mustang and the Camaro..

  • avatar


    So you (anyone) GETS (Understands) what the RX-8 and MX-5 (Miata) are ALL ABOUT, Listen/Watch the Video’s…they do load up after 15 seconds…listen to the comments at the end.

    LISTEN to what Randy says about these cars…LISTEN to what he says about POWER and the CHASSIS…Listen and you might just understand the addiction of the RX-8 and Miata….


  • avatar

    Thanks texlovera, I appreciate it.

  • avatar

    Rumored that the NISSAN 370Z is also Finishing!!

  • avatar

    People always amaze me with the type of generalizations they make about the whole while focusing on only one part. I was at a car show once, and this guy was looking at a 600hp beautifully modified Supra Turbo, and says to the owner… “anything less than 700 hp is a joke”…. and walks away. I’m just thankful that I do not suffer from the same “mashedpotato brainitis”.

    I like Carnick’s post though. Well done, and very well articulated. “rx8” seems to understand the car very well too. But from RGS920, twotone, Jackalope30, mtymsi, etc… good grief. What a bunch of ridiculous, senseless, idiotic comments.

    Here’s the deal. The RX8 has a Monstrous following that is fiercely loyal. You think perhaps there’s a good reason for that? It is no secret that the Mazda engineers were not able to make the Renesis engine sip fuel like a Prius. But, as noted in earlier comments, IT’S A SUPREMELY WELL BALANCED, BACK ROAD CARVING, TRACK CORNER EATING, SPORTS MACHINE!!!


    Oh, and by the way… the RX8 is a pure joy to drive around town too. I owned a 2005 RX8 Grand Touring. Gunmetal Grey with Saddleback (orange) leather interior. It was straight up AWESOME!! Everyone loved it. So unique. So innovative. That rotary engine is the epitome of smooth acceleration force. It BEGS you to rev. It BEGS you to wind it up.

    It’s roomy, practical, solid, fast, and super smooth. And let me tell you… EVERYONE loved the way it looked. Never ever once did I hear anything but high praise from anyone who saw it.

    The number one complaint here… the number one kicker… is… gasp… GAS MILEAGE!!!??? wow. a few bucks here and there. Big deal. Forget the gas mileage. How about the machine!

    As for turbo, Mazda tried (and they did actually). The problem is not that the Renesis cannot support a turbo. It certainly can. Just punch in “turbo RX8” on youtube. No, no, no. The problem is Green Haired Tree Hugging Activists that put such tight restrictions on emissions that Mazda had a tough time meeting the standards while still managing to meet the ever mounting critical demands of their target market.

    There are solutions for both of the “issues” that people have complained about here.

    1. Want more power? Have a professional shop install a turbo. Here’s a link for a kit that’s good for 326whp (about 380 HP).

    2. Want to not be concerned at all about gas mileage? Make more money and it won’t matter. It’s not Mazda’s fault you’re broke.

    Here is the one complaint I ever had with the RX8 (and it wasn’t even “my” complaint). Sometimes people who are sitting in the front passenger seat complained of a slightly protruding bump next to their left foot in the floor, which kinda sorta compromised leg room. That’s about it. Pretty minor I’d say.

    Why do I no longer own mine? I switched to a 2008 Mazdaspeed3 GT. And I loved that too, until I sold it too! haha. I would DEFINITELY consider buying another RX8 though. What a great car!

    Here are a few pics of mine.




  • avatar

    I just found another company that makes a strong kit for the 8. You can easily run with the big boys with one of these babies installed!


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