By on April 27, 2012

Ah, the Mazda RX-8. Given that it shares many underpinnings with the NC Miata, has a high-reving, silky smooth powerplant, 4 doors and a useable backseat, it should be a shoo-in for my next car, right? Not at all.

The god-awful fuel consumption, spotty reliability and torqueless-wonder of an engine means that I approach all RX-8s with caution. Ideally, a piston-powered motor swap could be engineered, because I require total reliability (though to its credit, I see plenty of Torontonians driving their RX-8s in the snow). Then again, they have gotten so cheap that it’s almost worth it to take the risk. Almost.

For those who must have an RX-8 that comes with a warranty, Mazda is giving you another chance. Another 1,000 chances. If you live in Japan. The RX-8 Spirit R, complete with Recaro seats, Bilstein shocks, red brake calipers and a red interior, can be had.

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74 Comments on “Mazda Gives Us Another 1,000 Chances To Buy A Rotary Engine...”

  • avatar

    The perfect car for someone who is too snobby to buy a Mustang or Camaro, too afraid to buy a BMW or Audi, or whose driving record is too spotty to ever afford insurance for a WRX or an Evo.

    • 0 avatar

      One of my friends bought an RX8 when they were new. His insurance payment was basically equal to the monthly car loan.

      He sold the car after a couple of speeding tickets raised his payments even further.

      Maybe insurance on them has come down..

      • 0 avatar

        Heh when I first got the 2007 I had, insurance companies were unwise to the rotary. So this thing had 4 doors, rear seats, and a Renesis under the hood. I’ll never forget- Progressive classified it as a “1.3L 2-cylinder sedan.” It was cheaper to insure than my 4-cylinder Mazda 6!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Um actually there are shops that specialize in dropping the LS-X into the RX-8. Weight difference is not that huge.

    And you’re right in a few years these cars will be on the used car market with less than 50,000 miles on them (some rich man’s toy) and they’ll be less than 50% of MSRP. When they get that cheap the fuel economy and reliability don’t matter as much.

    I’m always amazed how people don’t realize if your monthly car payment is cheap enough fuel economy is not as much of a concern.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      And if it’s zero, how little you begrudge your car needing occasional maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I always liked the idea of an RX-8 with a different engine. An RX-8 with an aluminum LS V8 would be awesome. Even a 3.7L V6 swap from within the Ford/Mazda family would be a big improvement.

    • 0 avatar

      I have an 05 6MT.

      I’d SWAG (maybe not so SWA, though, because it’s based on dealership tech feedback) that 85%+ of compression going bad happens with the following mix (not always, but most likely):

      1) Automatic (not only is it a lower horsepower 4port motor, but it only has one oil cooler, versus the two oil coolers in the manual transmission 6port);

      2) Driven in a hot climate such as Nevada or Arizona (this is where #1 above is relevant, as that 2nd oil cooler on the manual is critical);

      3) Not flogged hard daily. Seriously, rotary motors gain power with age, and hitting the 9500 rpm redline often keeps carbon deposits at bay, which isn’t possible with the automatic, because the buzzer goes off at 7500 rpm. The Renesis (series I or II) literally doesn’t even open up until about 8k rpm+, and even then, it’s buttery smooth. Equipping an RX8 with an automatic is factually idiotic.

      4) Modifications. A big % of the blown motors were modded, either by FI, or through significant alterations in the cat, etc., which a lot of members would then ‘unbolt’ after suffering an issue, so Mazda wouldn’t discover a potentially warranty voiding modification (no different than any other manufacturer).

      This is the best car I’ve ever owned, and literally has been as reliable with 62,000 miles on it now as my only other problem free car, a 1994 Honda Civic EX 5 speed manual. It’s been more reliable than all my other cars except that ’94 Civic, and I’ve owned 15 cars (I think).

      I drive it year round, because it does amazingly well with good snow tires even in deep snow, and I have thus far gone through one set of summer tires, one battery, one air filter, one set of plugs/coils and I didn’t even have to get new brakes until the 53,000 mile mark. I add about 3/4 of a quart of oil every 2000 miles or so (I check the oil once a month), and do 3000 miles oil/filter changes.

      I also do coolant flush and fills on all my vehicles every 3 years at most, and I’ve done two now on this one and am going to do another this month.

      The flooding issue is non-existent if one either got the upgraded starter motor and flash from the factory or as a freebie afterwards. I’ve had many people start and stop the car in valet type situations and it’s never flooded.

      As a bonus, I average 20mpg (not great, but not horrific) in about 70% city and 30% highway driving.

      I literally couldn’t find a replacement for this car that had the combination of ride quality, handling, a useable back seat (rear seat has more leg room than a BMW 3 series).

      You get used to this car in a way that you can’t fully appreciate until you test drive other cars and it makes you appreciate the unique combination of excellent attributes the RX8 has. This car is quiet and smooth when driven conservatively with decent rubber in a way that many entry level luxury cars can’t match, and the Nissan Z feels like a bloated pig and rides like a truck in comparison.

  • avatar

    As enthusiasts, we all want one. The character, the driving experience, the cult status of amazing cars. Whenever it’s time to buy a new car, we’ll lustfully consider them, visit their forums, read the horror stories and pout.

    “It’s just going to fall apart. Oh, but it won’t be me. I’ll be the exception of a terrible RX-8 owner! I’ll be that guy with the high mileage post! People will envy me! I’ll even get 20 MPG!”

    Sigh. Sorry RX-8. I love you, but our love cannot be. I’ll add you on facebook if you send me a request though. Right next to “GTi.”

    • 0 avatar

      Every so often I think “Hmm, maybe I should get a GTI” and then I remember that the odds winning the Reliable VW Lottery is up there with Powerball.
      Shame that, it’s an ideal car on paper.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        A few years ago Consumer Reports rated the reliability of the GTI higher than it’s not GTI counterparts. Take that for what its worth. I know a young man who had a GTI and eventually got so frustrated it sent him running into the arms of Toyota and he bought a Camry…

      • 0 avatar

        Anyone who dumped a GTI for a Camry was never a real GTI enthusiast in the first place! The GTI isn’t perfect, but it is pretty sublime, and the new ones are not the self-destructing wonders people think they are.

      • 0 avatar

        “Anyone who dumped a GTI for a Camry was never a real GTI enthusiast in the first place!”

        Right. He was probably a guy who had to get to work.

        Like, every day.

        And the GTI really isn’t all that special. Once you get past the slick commercials, it’s really just a somewhat sporty compact car.

      • 0 avatar

        Despite all of its “power”m the GTi is still about as slow as other cars in its segment.

        The current ones fall apart just fine. Coworker is having issues getting his to go into gear at under 1k miles already. Another, a base Golf/Rabbit/Golbit has a CEL the dealer can’t cure.

      • 0 avatar

        I get to work every day just fine with mine. Ive driven the Camry, even the SE. Its boring. Anyone who can switch from a GTI to a Camry doesnt “get” the GTI and never will. Which is fine, just like so many people dont “get” the RX8. That’s why they make CamCords, and its also why they sell so many… most people simply don’t care about the feel.

        And as I said, the GTI isnt perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. If all you do is shop by numbers, then you wouldnt get it anyway. It doesnt have to be THAT fast, its about how the power is delivered, how it feels in the corners, how much fun it is. Pretty much just like the RX8.

        All your comments throughout this thread mention other cars that dont have the compromises of the RX8 (and the GTI), but they have other compromises. They don’t drive as well, handle the same, have that fluid rotary power delivery, that feeling of handling on rails, etc. Obviously you don’t value those things as much as gas mileage or adding $2 of oil a month, but other people dont mind that trade off.

    • 0 avatar

      My father had a 2006 Jetta 2.0T, made in Mexico, with zero problems. Granted he got rid of it after 3 years, but my prognostications of epic unreliability did not come to pass.

      • 0 avatar

        Give it time. The Germans are sneaky. They were just rounding the Maginot line of his bank account ready to pounce.

      • 0 avatar

        My GTI is 4+ years old, almost 50K miles, and virtually problem-free (1 relatively minor issue covered under warranty). Oh, and I’m known for taking hard corners and hitting redline every now and then. They say that’s good for cleaning valves in a DI engine, no? Maybe that’s why I’ve had such good luck.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    I’ve always thought that the RX-8’s problems are wildly overblown. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that buying one wouldn’t be stupid.

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve all been there, searching for rationalizations.

    • 0 avatar

      The comparisons to VW are probably pretty accurate. I dont think its THAT bad, but it is not a Toyota or Honda. Many people who buy the RX expect it to be like other Japanese cars and not need any maintenance beyond oil changes. Then when they find out that’s not true, they dump them. That means you can buy used ones very cheap, cheap enough to make it worthwhile. Then engine is warranted for 100k. After that, when it blows drop in an LS.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2005-2008 models I wouldn’t trust. Mazda opened a plant here in Virginia specifically to rebuild rotaries. They’ll never tell how many they replaced, but I have little doubt it eclipsed 5 figures.

      I haven’t heard of a single 2009-2011 car having an engine replaced for all the reasons the early cars suffered. If I were to ever get another one, it would be at least a 2009.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe the ’09-’11s haven’t put on enough miles yet. Just wait.

        I agree with others that pointed out the low cost may offset the durability issues. If I took public transportation to work and didn’t need to count on it to accumulate miles I may consider it. Not as a daily driver though.

        Replica pretty much nailed my thoughts on the RX-8.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the same thing, mostly crybabies who can’t check the oil. Well I bought my ’07 and loved it, until about 36,000 miles and all the expenses. Plugs and coils every 20,000 miles, brakes every 16,000 miles, tires every 6 months. (the last two were probably the result of my spirited driving)

      At 50,000 miles the car started stalling and losing power. Mazda kept treating the symptoms, eventually even blaming my Mazdaspeed intake. At 76,000 miles it died completely. Before they would even test its compression I had to change the coils and plugs again, then pay to have the intake cleaned. I still had problems and they finally tested the engine. It was dead. I had done all my maintenance at the dealership and Mazda still drug their feet for 3 weeks about replacing the engine. When I finally got the car back I sold it the next day.

      I would love to own a reliable RX-8. I just don’t put much faith in Mazda to build it.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree; I’ve had two. A 2004 manual and a 2009 manual. No problems with either one, except for two software upgrades I needed to have on the first one. But I never had the non-start problem. And the oil consumption was around 1500 miles/quart. Very reasonable, as long as you keep up with it. but, boy, did that engine ever sing…

  • avatar

    I own a 2009 RX-8 GT that I bought new. Unless it rapidly starts falling apart on me, I’m not sure what people are talking about with regards to its reliability.

    I have 38000 miles on mine. I get somewhere between 17-18 mpg combined, about 22 on all-highway trips. It’s done 115 mph on the back straight of Watkins Glen. I add a quart of oil every 1000 miles or so, and change the oil every 3 thousand miles. I use it in the Boston winter about once a week, depending on road conditions.

    I couldn’t be happier with it.

    • 0 avatar

      Many engine improvements were made to the 2009-2011 cars (Series II) to fix the issues that killed so many 2004-2008 engines. I wouldn’t think twice about buying a 2009 used, as long as it hadn’t been abused.

    • 0 avatar

      My 07 was very reliable until about 36,000 miles. At 50,000 miles the engine trouble began. When I had my engine replaced in 2010, I did a web search for the most miles an RX-8 owner had on the original engine. The highest I found was 120,000 and it was toast at that point.

      I think if you drive very little, less than 10,000 a year, it will be a fun car for a while. I just wouldn’t expect to pass it on to your kids.

    • 0 avatar

      fewpistons, all of those things you’re happy about are pretty terrible. 18-22 MPG is absolutely HORRIBLE. Burning a quart of oil every 1k is HORRIBLE and being thrilled to make it to 40k is HORRIBLE. These aren’t good things.

      I hate to give RX8’s a hard time, they’re fantastic to drive. I love the looks. I love the interior. The motor sounds fantastic. It’s a great car. But damn…

      • 0 avatar

        Mazda Rotary has to burn oil. It is intended to do it. Manual spells it out. It is like 2 cycle engine. it has oil injector to lubricated compression seals. That is why synthetic oil is not recommended.

      • 0 avatar

        18-22 mpg is fine. If I was looking for a commuter car, sure running the RX-8 isn’t cheap. I never wanted it to be. I take public transit to work.

        A quart of oil is seriously cheap. If you’re really basing your choices of what car to buy over $5 of fluid every 3 months or so you should probably re-evaluate your priorities. The car cost nearly $28k, Tires cost about $1k. I don’t care at all about $20 of motor oil a year.

        Do you really think I’m “thrilled” to make it to 40k miles? That’s just how many I’ve done. I can’t speak to how many more I’ll get before things start breaking because I haven’t gotten there.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m aware that rotaries intentionally burn oil. I just don’t see the need to compromise with such an annoyance when there are other cars that don’t. The gas mileage is quite miserable for the power the car makes as well.

        Again, not trying to poop on the RX-8, but these are the common issues that make the rest of us not RX-8 owners. We buy Miatas instead.

  • avatar

    ” . . . . because I require total reliability . . . . . ”

    Why not try for something attainable? My suggestions in that category would be World Peace, and end to political gridlock between the Republicans and Democrats, and a weekend with Angelina Jolie where she does whatever you want. Or, to whomever you want, assuming you’re into watching.

    Total reliability in a car? Nevagonnahappen.

  • avatar

    This would be a good candidate for a turbo boxer 4.

  • avatar

    Drove lots of these in their first generation. Never had a problem. Seems to me that most of the engine issues are in vehicles with the automatic trans. The current gen car is an able and inspiring handling car compared to just about anything on the road and especially other cars with a functional back seat. Fun cars to drive. If you miss the power delivery characteristics of say, riding a sportbike.

  • avatar

    Oddly enough the rotary engine is a great candidate for hybrid-ization. The electric motor will augment the weak low-end torque of the rotary engine. Also the rotary engine is very inefficient at idle. The electric motor will save all the unnecessary idling.

    But DK is right- Mazda really should have stuffed their 2.3 turbo into the RX8 and call it a day.

  • avatar

    Was just shopping for these, then I found out that these things apparently go through wheel bearings like they’re paper towel rolls.

  • avatar

    As an 2011 RX-8 Driving Torontonian, I can say without reservation that the RX8 is the funnest and most responsive car I have *ever* driven, period. Full stop. I’ll take the abysmal fuel economy over the fun-to-drive factor any day. :)

    the 2010+ 2nd Gen RX8 is a blast. And mine has a 7 year warranty :D

    • 0 avatar

      +1. There are so many responses here about reliability and economy I started to think I might be on the Consumer Reports web site. What about fun? My wife had a Series II RX7 decades ago and still misses it. It will always be her favorite car.
      P.S. The Smartcar can be fun and electric cars can be interesting and small diesels feel ‘different’.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve driven tons of cars, and the RX-8 is the absolute best handling car I’ve ever driven. It handles amazing, and part of the reason it does that is the rotary engine. It’s a tiny engine, and they can place it closer and lower to the interior; making the car more perfectly balanced, so it handles incredibly.

  • avatar

    Forums frequently make cars seem much less reliable than they actually are. This is one of those cases. If you have a forum with thousands of active members, and a few percent have a problem, it seems like all of them have the problem.

    With 60 current participants in TrueDelta’s car reliability survey, and about as many in the past (many members who joined with RX-8s have since sold them), we have a total of two reports of engine replacements.

    Much more common than engine rebuilds: 1) bad ignition coils 2) stalling the car when cold, and then being unable to restart it without repriming the engine.

    Also: condensation in the tail lights. Which can be fixed with a drill.

    Overall, these cars are about average:

    • 0 avatar

      What’s this? No replies? Oh right, when the facts don’t agree with the “Best and Brightest’s” worldview, they go silent.

      I had a 2004 RX-8 for 88,000 miles. I sold it to a friend who has put another 15,000 miles on it. Only issue I’d ever had was when I once shut it off without the engine warming up and it flooded. Having had two RX-7s previous to this, I should have known better, since every fuel injected Mazda rotary will do this.

      Never at any other point during the time I owned the car did it ever fail to start and run perfectly. I drove it in all four seasons in Pennsylvania for 5 years.

      Can’t handle adding a quart of oil every 1,000 miles? Go buy a Camry – this car isn’t for you. I do think Mazda would have been better served putting a 5 quart remote oil tank on the car for the oil metering pump to pull from rather than the sump. Then it could go between service intervals without the owner ever venturing under that scary hood.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not that. I’d like to dig up the multiple threads from various RX-8 forums about engine issues but this comment area doesn’t support links.

        Yes, a true enthusiast car requires a quart of oil per tank of gas. All others are just fake, reliable, normal cars.

      • 0 avatar

        My father has only occasionally had to add oil in between changes.

        You have thousands of owners on those forums. You’re going to have dozens with engine problems. There is a failure rate in the low percents. It’s not virtually zero, as it is with most cars these days. There is a problem, and there shouldn’t be. But it’s nowhere near 100 percent, either.

        Similar situation with 2012 Mustang manual transmissions and the Porsche IMS. We have over 200 owners participating with 1999-2005 MY Porsches. Not one of them has had an IMS failure since the start of 2011. But you’ll still find plenty of threads about IMS failures on Porsche forums.

        Some people mention buying an RX-8 then converting the engine to avoid reliability issues. One possibility: buy the car, then convert the engine IF and WHEN the rotary fails. With this perspective, you win either way.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I think the smart ticket, if one wants an inexpensive fun, weekend car, is to get a CPO model that’s a year or two old. The real problem with owning the car is its appetite for fuel; but, If you drive only 6-7,000 miles/year, who cares about that?

    What surprises (and depresses) me is that this car uses only slightly less fuel than my 1973 RX-2 rotary did (20 mpg highway, observed, at 55-60 mph) and that car had a carburetor, no electronic engine management controls and a coil-and-distributor ignition system (actually, two, since it used two spark plugs per combustion chamber). Admittedly, the new engine develops more horsepower, probably because it has a higher rev limit than the 1973 version. But the old RX-2 probably weighed 1,000 lbs. less than the RX-8.

    By contrast, today a 2.3 liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine developing 250 hp. propelling a 3400 lb. station wagon will get the same highway mileage as my 1968 60 (at best) h.p., 1500 lb. Karmann Ghia at essentially the same speeds — about 30 mpg. In fact, when I got the Ghia to do 30 mpg, it was jetted a little lean, making it run hot. When I used a little bigger jets to enrich the mixture and bring oil temperatures down to 270 degrees, the highway mileage dropped a few numbers.

    So, the story here is the rather dramatic improvement in efficiency of reciprocating gasoline engines over the period as compared to the almost miniscule improvements of rotaries.

    That’s why this is a dead end.

  • avatar
    John R

    “Then again, they have gotten so cheap that it’s almost worth it to take the risk. Almost.”

    You ain’t kidding. This one has only 20k miles.

  • avatar

    Testing comments

  • avatar

    When your claim to fame is handling that is not much to stand on. Sure its fine if you live near some twisty mountain roads, but I’d doubt most folks can really take full advantage of that what the 8 does best. In some respects you can say that same regarding the top speed of a ‘Vette but at least you’ve got its pure acceleration to play with just about anywhere.

    My 350Z gets 24 mpg in a 30/70% city/highway mix of daily driving during my commute. No RX-8 is going to get anywhere near, Plus it drinks oil and has to be reved to death due to lack of torque. I really think they should have put a turbo in like the legendary RX-7.

    The other thing that turned me off the 8… the darn thing should have been a hatchback! I give Mazda credit: they build a unique vehicle and I’ll be sad to see it go, but a quirky car in a niche market is a really tough sell.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t help but think that this comment validates the main point of the TTAC article “in defense of: the mazda rx-8,” which is that most Americans just don’t care that much about handling. Which is sort of mind boggling and sad.

      Of course, as a 2009 RX-8 owner I’m probably slightly biased…. :)

      • 0 avatar

        Most Americans spend the majority of their drives on flat, boring highways. Handling isn’t much of a priority there. I remember when I had a Miata in Houston. Utterly pointless.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the logic that puts so many people in Camcords.

      The main reason I don’t have an RX-8 yet is that there’s little point to having one in metro Detroit.

      There’s also little point in having anything with over 200 horsepower. Or even 150.

      A Z is even more pointless in these conditions than an RX-8. Rougher, noisier, less practical, awful rearward visibility, and a cop magnet.

      I enjoy driving my 130-horsepower Protege5 more than 95 percent of the press cars I review. Unless I just want to relax. Then the P5 is too rough and noisy. The 2012 Focus strikes a nice balance.

      • 0 avatar

        I enjoyed my Protege5 when I had it. Handled great without compromising the ride, even when lowered on Eibach Pro-Kit springs, decent low end torque for highway cruising. Too bad the Mazda3 was such a departure.

  • avatar

    I own a 3000GT VR4. This thing must be lights years ahead in reliability.

  • avatar

    The RX-8, in my opinion, is a really cool car.

    I think it’s funny that so many will go out of their way to differentiate themselves from “the others” by loudly proclaiming diesel stick-shift wagons, and the like, are what they desire. God forbid anyone enjoy the utilitarian bent of a Toyota Camry, gas it and forget it. Those people are lemmings. Right?

    So Mazda offers up this very different, very cool rotary powered rear-wheel-drive sports car that can seat 4-people, and the very same folks who criticize the Camry and Corolla, trash the RX-8 for its quirks:

    It uses oil. So what? It’s supposed to. Check the oil when you fill up, car guy.

    It gets crappy mileage. So what? It’s a sports car. Dig into your pocket and fill it up, car guy.

    The engine will flood if you start and then shut down quickly. So what? There is a special procedure to get it going, it’s not that tough. So push the pedal to the floor and try again…car guy.

    It’s ugly…whatever. Like the EVO is the automotive equivalent of a supermodel? Car guy?

    Seriously, take it or leave it, but be thankful someone had the cojones to offer us something we supposedly want: a unique, rear-wheel-drive car that handles like it’s on rails and offers a TRUE snickety snick manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      +1. Very very well put.

      FWIW, I need to top off oil only once, on average, between changes. Even better? Mazda specifically suggests using conventional oil, so it’s dirt cheap.

      And the 2010+ body style is striking, IMHO. Much better than the Gen 1.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Well said, though the disappointing fuel economy is more of a concern for those of us who live with high fuel taxes. I’d love one of these cars but I’m sticking with my Miata for the moment, and the new Toyota/Subara claims to offer much of the same joy while getting much better fuel economy.

      But at the prices we’re starting to see for these I may end up with an RX-8 after all. I am delighted Mazda has put this car on the market – a truly unique offering.

      The comments about needing to check the oil on a supposed car guy sight really are hard to believe. And yeah, the stunning revelation that performance cars cost more to maintain just never seems to get old here.

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent post! Much more eloquent than my ramble.

  • avatar

    Well, I couldn’t not chime in. To get right to it:
    I own a 2004 model RX-8. (and 2 RX7s share the garage.) I’ve had it for almost 9 years. My car was an 03-preorder car and was in the first batch of cars to North America (and one of the first cars delivered to a customer in Canada.)
    Engine runs strong.
    I have never flooded the car.
    The car has never failed to start or had any major issues.
    I have never worn out a set of tires before they have heat-cycled out and been replaced due to lack of stick. (Whoever said above they went through tires quickly is crazy.)
    It has done 5 * 2-day HPDE schools (4 at my local track Atlantic Motorsport Park, and one at Mt Tremblant)and more lapping days than I can count.
    It has made the trip from Halifax, NS to Deal’s Gap twice.
    I am still running the second set of brake rotors (OEM) to be on the car and have my 3rd set of street pads on, with the second set being replaced because I didn’t like them (my only set of track pads are still only half worn) so whoever went through brakes is also crazy.

    On the drive down the the Deals Gap Rotary Rally last year, I got 24mpg (across multiple fill ups) on the highway (at 70mph) through Pennsylvania/Virginia/North Carolina with 2 people and luggage in the car and the AC on. City mileage sucks, I admit.

    I put 1L of oil into the car between changes. This is slightly LESS oil than I put into the 99 Honda Civic SiR (Canadian version of the US Si) between oil changes which is the car the RX-8 replaced.

    Insurance on the RX-8 went down from what I paid on the Civic. (Not the best benchmark, I admit.)

    To be fair, I change the oil every 3 months, don’t winter drive the car (that’s automotive suicide in Atlantic Canada) I premix my fuel, and do my coils/plugs/wires/coolant/trans/diff fluids every 2nd spring. That being said, working on cars is my hobby, so I half do it for fun.

    Anyway, that out of the way, I still have this car 9 years later, because I have yet to drive any car that combines the price/handling/character/fun to drive and practicality in one package.
    Nothing comes close for anywhere near the price.
    Most of it’s competitors (350Z, S2000 etc) get only slightly better mileage. In Canada, those cars cost $10K more than the RX8 did new. That’s a lot of gas at a 2MPG difference.
    People seem to expect to see 30+mpg from sports cars in this class. It just doesn’t happen.
    Worried about the reliability of the rotary, even with the 8 year warranty? People keep talking about ripping it out and swapping. Why? Rebuilds are cheap. Mazmart will sell you a new core with their upgraded oil and water pumps for under $4K. An engine swap to something different will cost you easily $10K.
    So, to play along, you get 8 years (failure just outside of warranty) from your stock motor, it fails, you buy a new one and get it installed for a total of say $4500. (Remove/reinstall a rotary is pretty simple) and then get another 8 years, which will be end of the the practical life of the car.
    So, you are in for the price of the RX8 + $4500 + 2mpg lower on the highway. I STILL can’t find a car with the same combination of positive attributes for anywhere near that price.

    • 0 avatar

      I sure wish my RX-8 was that reliable. Of course I wonder how many miles you drive each year? It seems to me that Mazda designed the car to be a weekend toy, not a daily driver. I also notice that the engines seem to last longer in colder climates. In Florida they are suicidal.

      I went through pads and tires like on a semi-annual basis. (OEM tires every 30K miles and brake pads in as little as 16K) I assure you I’m not crazy. My car never burned much oil at all, and I changed it every 3,000 miles. I never got over 18mpg even on pure highway trips, and about 14mpg in normal use.

      I have no doubt Mazda got some great engines out the door, but if you can’t afford to play to Rotary lottery these cars aren’t for you. I knew buying the car that it might burn oil and that it liked be run hard. I did everything the Mazda tech’s recommended right down to plugs and coils every 20K miles. If you give a car that much attention it should be reliable. That’s the bottom line.

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t realize you were sticking with OEM tires and pads. My apologies. That would partially explain it.
        The OEM tires were overpriced junk, as is the case with most cars. I took them off the car 6 months after I got it before they killed me. I went to BFG KDWs first, then Michelin PS2s, and now have a new set of Pilot Super Sports in the garage waiting to go on. MUCH longer tire life, and way better grip. A good alignment helps too.
        As for brakes, an upgrade to a quality aftermarket would be recommended there too. I happen to like Carbotechs (I have their Bobcat’s for the street, and Panther XP9s for track.)

        I will agree the car isn’t for everybody, and that Florida heat probably doesn’t help. Some of the available cooling upgrades probably would have helped.

  • avatar

    Wow, that ended up a lot longer than I intended. I’m passionate about my RX8s.

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously you are passionate, and I agree with your logic. But I bet the naysayers are going to blast you for accepting a $4500 engine swap at 8yrs/100k! :)

      The only reason I suggested an LS swap is because I think this is the perfect car to do it to, and it satisfies the “Mo’ Power” crowd chanting. After 100k, the car is more of a project car anyways, so for those who want something different after 8 yrs, what the heck. Get in the garage and start wrenching. Use a cheaper LS1 from a junkyard, not a crate motor, buy a kit, do the work yourself, etc.

      Or maybe bring the renesis into the living room and learn how to rebuild one?? :)

      • 0 avatar

        Ahh well, gotta have some passion for something.
        I’m glad my logic makes sense to somebody. Now, that being said, I’m not accepting a failure every 8 years, but pandering to the naysayers a bit on a worst case scenario.

        Tne swap would still be more expensive than people think, but it’s doable. There are some interesting ones on the forums (A Toyota 2JZ, a Nissan SR20 etc.)
        Personally, if I HAD to do a swap to get more power, it would be for a 3-rotor.
        I don’t have that much itch for more power from the car. That’s what my 2nd Gen RX7 track car with a full bridge ported engine is for. A friend and I are actually in the middle of rebuilding that right engine now.

        As for the Renesis, I probably would rebuild it as an experiment, but, with what Mazmart charges for a core to drop in, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Would certainly do all the work my self. Can’t be harder than the 3rd Gen RX7 engine build and single turbo conversion we did on a friends car a couple summers ago.

  • avatar

    Its not running on diesel fuel… i dont want

  • avatar

    I hate to re-post one of my own posts from the past. But, this thread is about the RX-8, a car about which I have VERY passionate feelings. So, with the full disclosure about plagiarizing myself….

    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 103 cars (yes, literally… it’s a disease) in my 38 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. The styling might not be “classically beautiful”, but is certainly unique and definitely stands out with its own Japanese anime distinctiveness in a world of increasing blandness and conformity.

    Yes, the engine consumes oil (wankels have oil injection systems that are integral to the lubrication of the engine). If someone can’t be bothered to check their oil every couple of hundred miles, and maybe add a quart every thousand or so, then they’re probably not looking for a sports car and Toyota sells lots of Camrys for people like that.

    As far as reliability goes, as other posters have commented, a perusal of forum comments may not be a reliable indicator of reality. People tend to vent their spleens when they’re having problems, not when everything is going fine. In 7 years of driving two different RX-8s as daily drivers year round, I have had exactly zero problems with either one. I suspect that many of the unreliability concerns might come from people who can’t be bothered to check their oil, and then are surprised that the engine self-destructs when it runs out of precious lubricating life.

    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 probably won’t be back, and like the old saying goes, you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone.

    • 0 avatar

      Very well put. I hope to pick up an RX-8 in a couple of years when prices sink even further as a weekend alternative to my S2000, which I can’t ever imagine getting rid of.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe I’m just getting old, but after a lifetime of going through cars faster than most people do underwear, I also can’t ever imagine selling either my S2000 or RX-8. I literally would not part with either one of them for any price (short of impossibly insane I-could-retire-on-it money), or unless there is a new version, which is unlikely. There will likely never be another one made, and I will cherish both of them for as long as I can use a stick and clutch.

  • avatar

    Maybe the new BRZ & FR-S will fill the gap left by the departure of the RX-8. Yeah I know the back seat will be much smaller and they certainly won’t be torque monsters either, but I hope these cars might be the answer to the “4-seat hardtop Miata” I think a lot of folks (myself included) have been waiting for.

  • avatar

    Who the hell wants a red interior?

    • 0 avatar

      I love red interiors. I am pretty sure its black with red seats and accents anyways, but even the all-red S2000 interior looks great. Not typical boring like other cars.

      Or are you one of those guys who think everyone should have beige?

  • avatar

    Questions for the RX-8 owners here:

    Is it easy to find parts online at decent prices?

    Is it easy to find independent mechanics who work on rotaries?

    Is any work necessary on the engine (gaskets and seals) or is it fine until the day you need a rebuild? I’m sure any mechanic will work on the rest of the car.

  • avatar

    I have to be one of the higher mileage Series 2s at 60K. Have not had one issue. Oil every 5k, and the tranny and rear end oil, and plugs, have been changed each twice. I burn a QT every 1200. And a couple redlinings a day yields 19mpg every time I check it. Just get rid of the horrendous stock rubber. I fully expect to make it to 100k with no problems. Buy your car new, take care of it, and DRIVE it and even an RX-8 will do you no wrong. I should also point out that I don’t drive under any of the “severe” conditions. Its not hot or humid where I live, I dont need A/C, no mountainous or dusty, no stop and go, and no loads in the car. I would imagine a used, automatic RX-8 in Miami would be a ticking time bomb.

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