This week I tested the 2005 Mazda RX8 dual rotor rotary engine. Ok, so why aren’t all engines rotary? In theory they make the most sense. Or do they?
Technical Guru Merkel Weiss gives us a little insight into why Rotary engines are not used more. Poor fuel economy for a 1.3-liter engine.
Bad emissions – that requires larger and more expensive catalytic converter.
If the engine breaks it can’t be rebuilt and must be replaced.
On the other hand, Rotary engines are smooth, quite and very capable at high RPM. One must wonder why Mazda didn’t make a mid-engine version for better handling characteristics, especially since it is such a quiet engine.
Well, I’m not terribly crazy about red cars because they attract so much attention on the highway. Police. Know what I mean? In spite of that I gotta admit the color combination is very nice and I really liked the black and red interior and all the aluminum accents on the foot rest and pedals, shifter knob etc. Very nicely done.
Parts – Japan 85%. Engine and transmission – Japan.
Assembly – Hiroshima, Japan
Class: – Subcompact
Cars: – Mazda 3, 6 and 6 sport wagon, MPV, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute and truck.
Handling & Performance:
This is one very capable sports car. It is nimble and quick, Jack, and the short travel shifter helps by making shifts up and down quicker. Many sports cars don’t hold a candle to this fun-to-drive car. It is 238 horsepower fast and the rotary engine is smooth and it just keeps pulling, all the way up to 8500-9000 rpm.
I rather like the way they provided a back seat that you can actually get into. The suicide doors on each side make rear entry relatively easy. My 86-year-old mother-in-law could never have gotten into the back seat without them. Only one negative I experienced was that I used it a lot to stow my computer bag, etc., and it would be better if the driver seatback were easier to pull forward.
Fit and Finish:
Very good, which is typical and expected of Japanese cars. But technology and time has made huge improvements across the board. American cars are no exception these days and the only exception I would take on this point, where American cars are concerned, is component parts are not engineered as strong as Japanese parts.
Affordable for a well put-together sports car. It is near the top of the order in its class. If the standard equipment noted below is not good enough and you wish to upgrade the audio system, add 8-way power driver seat with lumbar support and heated seats, moon roof, heated mirrors and Xenon headlights, stability control and fog lights you can add $4,250 to the price tag.
Good. Adequate. And that is ok because you are not paying for the fluff that is so often unnecessary anyway.
For the money this has to be in the top few contenders noted below. Interesting that only one American car is represented. Boy, have things changed in this country. In fact it is the only macho offering of the bunch. Somehow I just can’t see Steve McQueen driving any of the others to replace the “Bullet”.
Mazda RX8 $25-27,000, Acura RSX $20-24,000, Toyota Celica $18-22,000, Honda S2000 $32,950, Ford Mustang $19-26,000, Scion tC $15,950, VW GTI $19-22,000, Audi TT $33-43,000, Nissan 350Z $26-36,000, BMW Z4 $34-41,000, Hyundai Tiburon $17-20,000, Infiniti G35 $28-33,000.
Comparatively decent fuel economy, well priced, four seats you can actually use.
None worth mentioning.
1.3 liter 238 hp Engine, 6-speed manual trans, rear wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brake system, leather wrapped tilt wheel with cruise and audio controls, console, stereo with 6 speakers, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, front and side air bags, outside temp gauge, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system and theft alarm and engine immobilizer.
14 City and 24 Highway MPG.
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