The Mazda RX-8 has been on the market since 2003 and with no successor in sight, the 2011 model may very well be the last version of this distinctive sports car ever produced. During its lifetime the car has received only one major update, however, the things that make it unique--the suicide rear doors and rotary engine--are still present.
This rotary engine is what really puts the Mazda RX-8 on the map. It’s the only Wankel rotary engine currently fitted to a production car and may be the last. The twin-rotor unit develops a peak output of 232 horsepower and although this may seem like a lot, the engine’s paltry 159 pound-feet of torque means you really need to dial up the revs to get some momentum going. Opt for the available six-speed Sport A/T automatic transmission and you only get 212 horsepower.
Another downside of the rotary is its dismal fuel economy. Despite its engine ‘only’ displacing 1.3-liters, the Mazda RX-8 returns a fuel economy of 16/22 mpg city/highway--comparable to much more powerful V-8 sports cars.
However, it’s not all bad. The RX-8’s rotary engine weighs a lot less than conventional internal combustion engine designs and this translates into nimble handling out on the road. The suspension can be a bit firm for some tastes, especially when road surfaces aren’t the best, but this pays off in the directness of the steering and the easiness in which you can throw the car around a corner.
There’s no mistaking the RX-8 for anything but a pure Japanese sports car. With its pumped guards, large wheel arches and fighter jet cockpit style windows, the RX-8 has a distinctive look that you’ll either love or hate.
Performance buffs will want to go for the R3 edition, which comes with a stiffer suspension setup featuring Bilstein shocks, as well as 19-inch forged alloy wheels. Other goodies include a Bose premium audio system and Bluetooth connectivity.
The interior is hard not to love, with its flowing, low-slung design emphasizing the car’s sportiness. Despite the car being described as having 2+2 seating, space in the rear is very limited and is suitable for carrying small children only. At least getting in and out of the back is quite easy thanks to the suicide rear doors whose design mean they can only be opened once the corresponding front door is opened.
For a complete look at the distinctive 2011 Mazda RX-8, check out the full review at TheCarConnection