2006 Mazda RX-8 Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
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.

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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

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!

Awesome car!!!

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

Just bought my 06 RX-8 GT with 30k miles on it and am loving it. Test drove one and fell in love immediately. The handling is amazing, it is unlike anything in its price range. The engine has plenty of power don't worry about what everybody is saying about a lack of power, this thing will move! Gas mileage isn't all that bad either I got 25 mpg on a 300 mi trip with the cruise set on 80.

This is different.

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

I honestly could not see myself in one of these cars, but I'm really enjoying the experience. Perhaps with just buying this lovely car I'm not quite qualified to offer an opinion but here is my initial impressions. I was fortunate to find a low mileage ( 25k,in kilometers ) GT model with the luxury package and automatic ( wife needs auto. ) We took it for a good run on a winding highway,,,,wow, it has more than enough power for me ( I'm 64 ) the handling was great, the paddle shifters are great fun, so smooth a ride. The interior is so luxurious and very comfortable, oh sure it sucked some fuel but that is a known fact with this car and that's the price you pay,,no big deal. Nice car !!

2006 rx8 grand touring a.t.

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

Great Car and talk about fun to drive!!! I bought mine used with 34000 miles on it. Fully loaded with every option available. The 6 speed A/T is excellent and what makes it even more fun is the paddle shifting. The handling is positive and very responsive. The ride is smooth and not stiff. The rotary engine is smooth and responsive. No need to rev it to 9000 rpm (red line) that's just crazy and asking for a early engine death. All I can say is, "I'm going to have a lot of fun driving my RX8". :-) You guys out there have fun with yours as well and take care! 22-23mpg mainly city driving.

Talk About The 2006 RX-8

2006 Mazda RX-8 Discussions See all Started By

Background: purchased a "new" 2005 RX-8 in 2006. Ran into engine problems (car was stalling on me while driving on several occasions) and after paying for several fixes that didn't work (thr...

the 30/40 mpg will be OK too. Too bad about the RX-8 but I may try again when the "speed" version is released, hopefully mazda will cater to the US market and offer an AT on that. I am an...

I am an owner of a 2006 Mazda RX-8 Shinka 6-Speed with the "Smart Key" I have been trying to find a way to carry the larger than credit card size smart key other than just in my pants or shi...

Gas Mileage


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