2006 Mazda RX-8 Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

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Mazda RX-8 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.3 L Rotary -cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 232 hp @ 8500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Mazda RX-8

  • The four-seat 2006 Mazda RX-8 offers sports car-like performance without the typically attendant stiff ride. Only disappointing fuel mileage prevents the RX-8 from being the ultimate in a practical sports car.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low starting price, athletic handling with a comfortable ride, rotary engine's smooth and high-winding nature, can seat four adults.

  • Cons

    Most optional features buried in packages, rotary's poor fuel economy and mediocre torque output, some quirky interior ergonomics.

  • What's New for 2006

    Automatic transmission-equipped Mazda RX-8s are a bit sportier for 2006. A new paddle-shift six-speed automatic replaces last year's four-speed transmission, and the rotary engine's maximum horsepower has been increased for cars equipped with the automatic.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (34 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Amazing car....

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

This car is amazing.... It is like no other car I have owned. It is fun, sporty, sexy and fast. It may not be the fastest in a straight line but if you are concerned about that you have missed the point of this car. I live in east TN where there are twisty roads everywhere. This car is as close as you are going to get to perfect handling for the money. my only concern is gas mileage. mazda really needs to spend some time on this. I understand this engine is in a high state of tune and it is a sports car but averaging 18mpg is pretty sad when you drive mostly highway. Before buying this car please read the FAQs page on RX8club dot com. there are many things that are unique to this car.

Quirky fun

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

After a few years - Still tons of fun to drive, but not good for heavy traffic commuting. Don't drive it on snow or ice - you will die. On the other hand, its a great road trip car and the handling is amazing. Turns and stops better than anything I've ever driven. It will do a decent 0- 60 if you are willing to abuse the gearbox and clutch, but why? The thing really turns on above 5,000 rpm and is a hoot. It took some time and practice to learn how to maximize the performance, but once you figure out the engine it is the easiest car to drive fast that I've ever experienced.

Cool car

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Tons of fun to drive + has turned a lot of heads. I have had many compliments on the design from friends and strangers alike. A police officer told me to roll down my window + I figured my sticker was past due or I had committed an infraction + instead he inquired about the car and told me how much he liked it. The handling is great! Tons of fun around corners and curves. It should be a little faster off the line + this is a significant drawback considering the horsepower + the poor gas mileage. At first I was unsure about the lines but now I love the look. I love the suicide doors + at least 3 adults can fit in the car as long as everyone isn't tall. You need snow tires bad in the snow!

Rx-8 delivers maximum smiles per

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Test drove RX-8, fell in love at 9,000 rpm redline, bought on spot. Screams like a 4-seat F-1 car. This canyon carver runs down M-3s, 911s, and occasional Lambo on CA P.C.H. Hwy 1. Driven 36,000 miles so far, very reliable, comfy seats, compliant ride, good Bose stereo. Not lazy to drive like Chevy V-8. You MUST adapt your driving style to get max speed. Keep it from 5,000 to 9,000 rpm and rotary happily howls. Tiny low weight engine allows for mounting low and rearward in chassis for near mid-engine balance, low center of gravity. Rotary uses oil to lube its seals so top off oil at about five gas fill- ups. 17-20 MPG fine for fast car. If you need big mpg skip all sports cars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Two kinds of rx8 owners

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

I have an '06 RX8 with the six-speed manual. I wouldn't even consider the automatic because it's down on power (212hp for '06/197hp on '04 and '05 models- pathetic considering the manual has 238hp and redlines 1500rpm higher). Basic things to know before buying: rotaries consume more oil (check often) and gas than similar-sized piston engines. Standing-start acceleration is underwhelming but from 30mph and up, watch out! Rotaries need to be revved above 5000rpm to get the best performance. Run the car for at least 5mins to avoid flooding the engine. Handling on this car is phenomenal, a renowned Mazda trait. Car is not designed for snow/ice so don't bother driving in it.

Quiet kicks

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda RX-8 Manual 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

I have owned a sports car of one type or another for the last 25 years. The RX-8 rocks. I have had mine to 155 mph and it feels like it's glued to the road. It's humorous for the Toyota dudes and the Mercedes sweeties to challenge it. The only thing that comes close is a Mustang GT until you get into the first turn. Then you will see them in the rear view. The Porsche, BMW sports models are plusher but more sluggish in the turns. The Hondas are not in the same league and Nissan Zs. The car can handle a turn like no other. Some complaints regarding the car are the gas mileage (find another car that gets good gas mileage and can go 175+.) For under 30k new you can't beat it.

Full 2006 Mazda RX-8 Review

What's New for 2006

Automatic transmission-equipped Mazda RX-8s are a bit sportier for 2006. A new paddle-shift six-speed automatic replaces last year's four-speed transmission, and the rotary engine's maximum horsepower has been increased for cars equipped with the automatic.


Sport coupes have been around a long time, but few have been as unconventional as the 2006 Mazda RX-8. This nimble-handling machine is not only the only new production car sold in the world to have a rotary engine, it's also the only sport coupe to have a set of rear-opening doors that allows access to a surprisingly roomy four-passenger cabin.

These days, the Wankel rotary engine is pretty much synonymous with Mazda. Its advantages over a traditional piston engine include a higher specific output for a given physical size, a lighter weight and fewer moving parts. Mazda's latest "Renesis" rotary design has also minimized most of the traditional drawbacks. In the RX-8, Mazda's engineers were able to utilize the rotary's weight and size advantages to optimize engine placement. The result is a 50/50 weight balance between each set of wheels, a low center of gravity and a low hood line that contributes to the car's sporty style and a slippery coefficient of drag. The RX-8's base curb weight is about 3,000 pounds, about 300-400 pounds less than its main competitors. In terms of handling, very few cars achieve a better balance between handling precision and ride quality than the Mazda.

Although the idea of a "2+2" sports car has been around for decades, the RX-8 takes it to the next level via the "free style" doors in back, which open opposite the fronts and make loading people and cargo much easier. Provided they are under 6 feet tall, those seated in the back will find supportive seating and ample room all around. Alternately, the rear-seat area is a great place to throw luggage or grocery bags, though a synergy between it and the rear cargo area can't be obtained as the rear seats don't fold forward.

There aren't a lot of cars in the under-$30,000 sports car segment. But of the few, Nissan's 350Z is the RX-8's most direct competitor, as it offers similar performance for a slightly higher price. With no backseat, the Z is more of a true sports car, but for those who need a little practicality and a more forgiving ride, the 2006 Mazda RX-8 is hard to beat.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Mazda RX-8 comes as a four-seat hardtop with, essentially, four doors. The front doors are full-size, while two smaller rear doors ease access to the rear passenger compartment. The RX-8 line comprises an automatic-transmission model with a new six-speed gearbox, and a manual transmission version that also has six cogs. The automatic RX-8 comes standard with air conditioning, 16-inch wheels and power windows, locks and mirrors. The six-speed manual model adds a limited-slip differential, a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires. There are four option packages available. On six-speed models, the Sport package adds xenon headlights, stability and traction control and foglights, while automatic-equipped versions also get a limited-slip differential, larger brakes, a retuned suspension and 18-inch wheels. The Touring package provides a sunroof, Bose audio system, Homelink and auto-dimming mirrors. The Grand Touring package adds all of the above equipment, along with a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated seats, leather upholstery and heated side mirrors. The Shinka (Japanese for "Evolution") package adds both sporty and luxury features via a more aggressively tuned suspension, leather/Alcantara seating, Sirius satellite radio, upgraded interior trim and unique 18-inch alloys. Stand-alone options include a navigation system and an in-dash six-disc CD changer.

Powertrains and Performance

Both versions of the Mazda RX-8 are motivated by a 1.3-liter rotary engine that sends power to the rear wheels. When connected to the six-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission, the engine is tuned to produce 212 horsepower. Manual-transmission versions get a 232-hp version of this power plant. Coupled with the vehicle's light weight, the RX-8 delivers exhilarating performance along with ultra-smooth power delivery. We've recorded zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and a quarter-mile performance of 15.4 seconds with the six-speed manual.


Side airbags and side curtain airbags for the driver and front passenger come standard, as do four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Stability control is optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the Mazda RX-8 earned a four-star rating (out of a possible five) for driver protection in frontal impacts and five stars for the front passenger. The Mazda received four stars across the board for side-impact protection. Additionally, the RX-8 is the only passenger car currently sold in the U.S. to earn a perfect five-star rollover rating from the NHTSA.

Interior Design and Special Features

The RX-8's rear-hinged rear doors allow unobstructed access to the rear seats, giving this sports car the ability to comfortably carry four adults thanks to well-shaped seats and a roofline that allows ample headroom in back. The interior design carries a circular theme, with three round gauges and a circular central dash pod that houses the stereo and climate control functions, while "piano black" accents lend a touch of class to the cockpit. Unfortunately, an overly busy display for the audio system and climate control makes "at a glance" reading a challenge.

Driving Impressions

Although the 2006 Mazda RX-8 has the look of a race-tuned sports car, its demeanor on the road is considerably more docile. There's plenty of grip in the corners and solid feedback through the steering wheel, but it won't beat you up on the daily commute. The rotary engine requires high engine speeds to make its peak power, but the delivery is virtually vibration-free and noise levels are subdued. Overall, the RX-8 is one of the best examples of a car that's fun to drive while still remaining livable on a day-to-day basis.

Talk About The 2006 RX-8

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs