Tokyo Drift Test: Turbocharged Mazda RX-8

Tough enough for a man, but built for a woman in The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift


  • Fast and Furious 3: Turbocharged Mazda RX-8

    Inside Line takes the Fast and Furious 3 movie cars to the test track. | April 06, 2011

1 Video , 6 Photos

In stock form, the Mazda RX-8 doesn't have an ill-mannered molecule in its entire structure. It's a sports car that seems determined to protect you from trouble — sort of the opposite of an old Shelby Cobra. So maybe it's sexist that in The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift it's been cast as the girl's car. At least it's less strikingly sexist than the Pepto Abysmal Pink Honda S2000 the female character piloted in 2 Fast 2 Furious.

As with so many cars in this film, the Tokyo Drift transportation department relies on a Veilside body kit to muscle up the exterior and Toyo Proxes (P245/35R19 front and P255/35R19 rear) tires on Volk Racing GT-AV wheels to fill in the shoulders. Underhood, there's a Greddy single-turbo system plumbed into the Renesis rotary engine, with the waste gases channeled through a Tanabe cat-back exhaust system. The RX-8 was lowered using Tein springs, while the interior has a Nardi steering wheel and Takata seatbelts. That hood may look like carbon fiber, but that's really only paint. The Veilside rear wing, on the other hand, is built from genuine carbon fiber.

While this right-hand-drive Mazda RX-8 seemed to be in pretty good shape at first glance, the engine was obviously down on power. On the chassis dyno, we only found 191 horsepower at 5,500 rpm making it to the rear wheels, and 187 pound-feet of peak torque at 5,150 rpm. That's less than what would be expected of a stock U.S.-market RX-8 that carries a crank rating of 238 hp at a screaming 8,500 rpm. The turbo system was missing in action on the dyno and somehow most of the engine's top end disappeared, too.

So it was surprising when the Tokyo Drift RX-8 slugged its way to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 103.6 mph — better marks than those set by the last stock RX-8 Edmunds.com tested, which hit 60 mph in 7 seconds and ran the quarter in 15.4 seconds at 92.7 mph. Go figure. Maybe that turbocharger showed up after all.

Even lowered on oversize wheels and tires, this Mazda RX-8 rode well and remained relatively comfortable on the occasionally choppy surface of the test venue. This is not a hard-edged car, but one that with some expert tuning and extended TLC could be capable of epic performance. That's not what movie companies are in the business of doing, however.

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