Mazda’s rotary sports cars hold a near-mythical place in the hearts and minds of many aficionados. The ‘different-ness’ of the triangular Wankel design evokes a kind of independent streak in many people, and the fantastic platforms that Mazda has wrapped around its rotary engines haven’t often disappointed either. The RX-8 is no exception to either of these aspects of the rotary sports car’s charm, though it is beginning to show its age.
The Mazda RX-8 hasn’t seen much in the way of updates over its nearly six-year term. A ‘second-generation’ car was released in Detroit for the 2009 model year, but apart updated electronics and some new bodywork, the car is almost indistinguishable from its forerunner. The only major addition to the range for the new generation is the availability of the factory-tuned RX-8 R3 model, which we received to test recently.
Though the R3 trim doesn’t add any power over the stock RX-8, it does purport...