There’s nothing quite like Mazda’s rotary engine coupe – that has a 1.3 litre engine under the bonnet that powers the car like a 2.5 litre. Though some argue that it unfortunately drinks more like a 3 litre! When the first models were available back in 2003, the unique styling of this interesting motor was a top selling point.
Featuring suicide doors at the rear (that open the opposite way to normal) and a nice leather interior as standard, there’s a lot to like about this car. Various specials and iterations of the car are available, though the 190bhp and 230bhp version remain up to today. Space isn’t huge in the back, but it’s hardly tiny either and so is suitable even for four adults on a shorter run.
Of course, a coupe is only as good as the performance it has to match the funky looks and in this case, the Mazda RX-8 doesn’t disappoint. It can rev all the way to 9,000rpm and does so in such a smooth fashion it’ll take your breath away. It is quite unlike anything else.
Repeatedly, the RX-8 scores quite highly in a variety of surveys, only to be let down by what some consider to be overly high fuel consumption figures. Around 25mpg is not uncommon, or even lower. Another issue is the need to regularly check oil levels. The Wankel rotary engine needs care and regular 12,500 mile (or yearly) servicing.
Generally considered reliable, there is however some areas which you need to consider before forking out any hard-earned cash on an RX-8. These include the heat shield between exhaust and fuel tank – make sure it hasn’t been left off after a service. Suspension has been known to fail on early cars, see the recall list below for more information.
The Wankel engine is a special bit of kit – it won’t take too kindly to very short journeys or idling for long periods – which can in fact result in damage to the exhaust ports, which in turn affects the catalytic converter. Other watchouts include the clutch (make sure it isn’t slipping), the oil system (a lack of oil is a disaster for this kind of engine) and the headlamps. Xenons as standard are cool but just make sure water hasn’t got in.
May 2004 – Shock absorber heat insulation issue. August 2005 – Ball joint separation leading to a loss of steering. August 2005 – Heat damage to fuel tank at high revs. August 2005 – Possible fuel leak problem.
There are plenty of other cars that will drink fuel in the gulping way that a Mazda RX-8 does, but few that offer so much performance for the £6,000 mark – a figure which you can happily pick one up at now. If you don’t mind doing the run to the forecourt or the regular oil checking required then this car certainly has a lot to offer. Just make sure that you buy one with a good set of wheels – this car packs a punch and you don’t want to go sideways around a roundabout!