2009 Mazda RX-8 Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 No

Review of the 2009 Mazda RX-8

  • Providing sports-car performance along with four-passenger capacity, the 2009 Mazda RX-8 would be the ultimate in a practical sports car were it not for its SUV-like fuel economy and lack of torque.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Nimble handling with a comfortable ride, smooth rotary engine, innovative body style that can actually seat four adults, impressive feature content.

  • Cons

    Poor fuel economy, meager low-end power, small trunk opening.

  • What's New for 2009

    The Mazda RX-8 undergoes its first significant update since its introduction five years ago. The exterior receives a new front end with a wider grille and a lightly massaged tail. The interior's center stack is restyled slightly and there are several significant new available features like Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio jack and a new touchscreen navigation system. A new performance-oriented trim level known as R3 also debuts.

Full 2009 Mazda RX-8 Review

What's New for 2009

The Mazda RX-8 undergoes its first significant update since its introduction five years ago. The exterior receives a new front end with a wider grille and a lightly massaged tail. The interior's center stack is restyled slightly and there are several significant new available features like Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio jack and a new touchscreen navigation system. A new performance-oriented trim level known as R3 also debuts.


The 2009 Mazda RX-8 is weird. Its body style? Weird. Its engine? Weirder. Its styling? Yep, that's pretty strange too. Since its introduction five years ago, the RX-8 has served as an automotive asterisk. However, weird can be a good thing. Jim Carrey's weird and so is Japan, but plenty of people saw "Ace Ventura" and vacation in Tokyo. At the same time, though, those two entities also produced "23" and cucumber-flavored Pepsi (respectively, of course). So goes the Mazda RX-8 -- weird in good ways and bad.

The RX-8's coupe-like body features a pair of rear-hinged doors that grant easy access to the surprisingly roomy backseat. If you've ever seen an extended-cab pickup, it's the same idea. Given the car's performance and handling capabilities, that old marketing cliché of "four-door sports car" actually applies here. Under the hood is not a sports car's typical inline-4 or V6, but instead, Mazda's signature rotary engine. The number of other cars that feature this type of engine is exactly zero, but the resulting effect is that the RX-8 behaves like nothing else. With the manual transmission, the rotary engine spins up to 9,000 rpm with the ease of a blowtorch through Country Crock. The sounds are glorious, and playing with such a free-flowing, high-strung engine is a lot of fun.

All of this would be weird in a good way except that the rotary can also get tiresome in everyday use, as it produces very little low-end torque. Drive sedately and the RX-8 feels like a slug. That high-spinning nature also hammers fuel consumption to the point that the 3,000-pound, 232-horsepower Mazda RX-8 gets the same fuel economy as the 4,300-pound, 273-hp Mazda CX-9 crossover. That's weird in a bad way.

That last point is truly the 2009 Mazda RX-8's Achilles' heel. We could probably live with the rotary's less-than-stellar straight-line performance, given the fun derived from the RX-8's superb handling, but the fuel economy and dearth of low-end power are hard to reconcile. The BMW 128i, Nissan 350Z and Mustang GT provide better performance and/or fuel economy for a similar price. Of course, none of those cars provide the practical four-door coupe body style or that one-of-a-kind styling inside and out. In other words, if the RX-8's your type of weird, there's no other choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Mazda RX-8 is a four-seat coupe with a pair of rear-hinged "suicide" doors that ease access to the backseats. There are four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and R3. The base Sport features 18-inch wheels and performance tires, a rear lip spoiler (manual transmission models only), air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, full power accessories and a six-speaker stereo with CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Touring trim adds a limited-slip rear differential, xenon headlights, foglights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an in-dash six-CD changer.

Grand Touring RX-8s have this equipment plus automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, an eight-way power driver seat with memory, heated front seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker Bose surround-sound system. The new-for-2009 R3 trim level is essentially a Touring model with a more aggressively tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a rear wing spoiler, a revised front bumper, Recaro front sport seats, keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth and the upgraded Bose stereo.

The Touring and Grand Touring can be equipped with a premium package that includes a sunroof, satellite radio and the Bose stereo (Touring). Also optional on the Grand Touring is a new touchscreen navigation system with voice commands and a dedicated iPod connection.

Powertrains and Performance

The rear-wheel-drive Mazda RX-8 is powered by a 1.3-liter rotary engine. The engine's output depends on the transmission selected. Models with the six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) receive 212 hp and a redline of 7,500 rpm. The six-speed manual version has 232 hp and an atmospheric redline of 9,000 rpm. All RX-8 engines produce a rather meager 152 pound-feet of torque.

Although generally quick by most measures, acceleration is hardly impressive for a sports car. In our tests, a manual-equipped RX-8 went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds. Fuel economy is unimpressive at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.


The 2009 Mazda RX-8 comes standard with antilock brakes, front side airbags and front side curtain airbags. All but the Sport model get stability control standard. In government crash testing, the 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. In side-impact testing, the RX-8 received four stars.

Interior Design and Special Features

Giving the 2009 RX-8 a serious advantage over class rivals is its true four-passenger capacity. The "free style" reverse-opening rear doors make loading people and cargo much easier. Provided they are shorter than 6 feet tall, those seated in the back will find supportive seating and ample room all around. The rear compartment is equally accommodating for luggage or grocery bags. The trunk is a different matter, as its opening is small and no flip-down rear seat function exists to increase that luggage capacity.

The RX-8's cockpit features a circular theme, with three round gauges and a circular central dash control stack that houses the stereo and climate control functions. Look closely and you'll also spot numerous circle and triangle details throughout the cabin, a visual homage to the car's rotary engine design. Although the gauges are easily read, we've had mixed feelings about the central display used for the audio system and climate control, which some find to be too crowded with information. The optional navigation system is now operated through a touchscreen and voice recognition interface, which works well and is a welcome improvement.

Driving Impressions

Although the 2009 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 a compliant ride means that it won't beat you up on the daily commute. The rotary engine requires high engine speeds to make serious power, but the delivery is virtually vibration-free and noise levels are subdued. If you like a smooth engine (in feel, sound and delivery), there's none smoother. Overall, the RX-8 is one of the best examples of a car that's both fun to drive and very livable on a day-to-day basis -- just be prepared to pay at the pump.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Best car i've ever owned

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 RX-8 R3 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Very much improved over older RX-8s I have never owned a car that is this much fun to drive. The cars turn in ability and grip is extreme. Sometimes its hard to live with because the suspension is so stiff. But its been my daily driver and weekend warrior for more than 3 years now. I always get looks in this car. The interior is really upscale with piano black center pieces. and aluminum inserts. It's much faster than the other cars I've owned: 98 Oldsmobile Aurora V8, 03 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V. I also currently own a 2006 civic si that is also sporty and more forgiving on the back. Its not as fast as the RX-8 and no where near the RX-8 in handling prowess.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

2009 and newer rx8 is

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Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

What Changed In Series II RX-8's over S1 2009 and Newer RX8 is New and Improved 2009 is better than 2004-2008 All New Powertrain Control Module (PCM) with Temperature Sensor newly added and built into the PCM, when ETC (Engine Compartment Temperature) reaches 230F or 100C with Ignition OFF, Medium Cooling Fans Switch ON. New Larger Genuine Oil Filter and Repositioned on front Timing Cover Housing towards the Sump (Left Hand Side). USE GENUINE 09 SERIES II OIL FILTER ONLY. Revised Oil Filler and Dip Stick (Longer Type). New EMOP "Electric Metering Oil Pumps" Two of them... Internal Oil Pressure in EMOP's is between 7.3 and 21.7 PSI (Used for the first time by Mazda) New design Oil Injection Nozzles 3 per rotor housing..Totalling 6. New Oil Pump assembly. 50% Higher Oil Pressure at 100 oC (121oF) 3000 RPM...500 kPa {5.10 kgf/cm2, 72.5 psi} When compared to Series 1 RX-8. New Oil Pressure Sensor (ONLY Located on #1 EMOP). Larger Oil pan Sump Capacity. New hex (8mm) type Sump Drain plug. New Internal Oil/Sump pan Magnet... (First time used in a Rotary Engine since 1985 FC RX-7) New external silver plate Engine Sump Guard. New Inlet Manifold with changed APV Position sensors. Revised 4 Fuel Injection Nozzles (2 primary, 2 secondary). (Series I six Port Engine had 6 FI Nozzles). Revised Atmospheric Air Control Solenoid (near Throttle Body) New Fuel Pump. New Radiator Core. New radiator Electric Fan Motors. Revised radiator Fans Speeds from 2 to 3 Speeds. (Low, Middle, High). New Alternator. New Starter Motor. New Battery 80D26L. (80 AMP Hour) (Was 50D22L (50AH) or 75D26L (75AH) in Series I) New Exhaust System. New Yaw Rate Sensor unit. New Air Conditioner Temperature Controller (Amplifier). New Bridgestone RE050A's in 18" and 19" (R3). New Manual Transmission (6 speed MX-5/Miata) (Reverse is now next to 1st gear not next to 6th gear). New Differential Ratio (Manual). New Differential Fixing Plate Washer on PPF (Power Plant Frame). New Differential mounting Bracket. New additional alloy Cooling Fins (4) on alloy differential Cover Plate, plus deeper set Cooling Fins. Changed Throw Out Bearing (Thrust or Fork Bearing). Revised Oil Coolers, Air Intakes and Oil Cooler Hose Lines. Extra Rotor Knock Sensor (Now 1 per Rotor, Total Of 2). New Water Pump/ New Timing Cover to suit. New Water Pump Pulley. New Water Pump "O" Ring as gasket. New Spark plug Leads. New Ignition Coil Backing/Mounting Plate (now Ventilated) New Alternator/Air Compressor Drive Belts. Revised Eccentric Shaft (Crankshaft) Pulley. Revised Oxygen Sensor (CAT). Revised Air/Fuel Ratio Sensor (Exhaust Manifold). New Air Pump Control unit. New One-piece trans-Tunnel Heat Shield (Previously Two Piece). New Under Body Covers reducing C Drag from 0.31 to now 0.30. Larger Fuel Tank (5 litres extra or around a gallon). New Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Hydraulic unit Control module. New Rear-Suspension Control-Links (Rods) Upper/Lower and Trailing have Increased In Diameter. New Rear Stabilizer Bar. New Rear Shocks And Springs. New Rear Axles. New Rear parking-Brake Cables. New ABS Wheel Sensors (All 4 Wheels). Revised TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) US Only. New Front Upper And Front Lower Suspension Arms (Wishbone). New Front Steering Knuckles And Wheel Hubs. New Front Stabilizer Bar. New Front Shock and Springs. Revised Power-steering Control System unit. Revised Headlamp Auto-Leveling Sensors. New 3 Piece (Instead of 2) Strut Tower Brace (Manual Only), Auto's Retains Two Piece Tower Brace. Revised Front and Rear Wheel-Arch Splash Guards/Shields. Thicker (Heavier Guage) Steel on the two Front Strut-Towers. Additional Spot Weldings around both door Openings for increased Rigidity. Stiffened Body Shell = Torsional (twisting) and Flexural (bending) Rigidity have been increased by 5.4 and 8.7 per cent respectively. Auto's and Manual's both have 6 port engines, Max Power RPM (kw) has been limited to 7500 for Auto compared to 8200 RPM for the manual. http://www.rx8club.com/showthread.php?t=161665&page=6 .

Great car, bad build quality.

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Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6A)

I bought a brand new JDM import. The steering rack rattles incessantly. This has just 10,000 km on it. Sorry Mazda but this is just garbage to put it mildly. I am currently negotiating with the reluctant dealer to have the steering rack switched. Other than that the car is great. Great engine, great handling, great cabin, great looks. Comfortable too!

Oiled out!

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Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6A)

My experience owning this vehicle has its ups and downs. On the down side, the car burns too much oil. After an oil change, the oil light comes on 1000 miles into the oil change. I was told this was normal by the dealership on two occasions when I took it in for service. They told me to "add oil" to it and it would be fine until the next oil change. I have had more oil changes on this car in the one year that I've owned it. This car is too overpriced for what you get.


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Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Here is the truth about the 2009 rx8. Fun to drive if you can afford to drive it how its meant to be driven all the time. The heavier your foot is the more oil it consumes, gas mileage is way down there, and if you don't drive it hard you risk flooding, fouling and carbon build up. Run mine hard all the time and still need to clean the spark plugs every 6,000. Trust me it helps! As far as drivabilty goes best piece of machinery I have ever driven! Handling and forgiveness is great, top end is good too, there is an extreme lack of torque though. As far as comfort, seats hold you in, but they are a little hard. This car offers the most fun for your dollar, unless you are a straight line driver.

Really fun to drive

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Vehicle: 2009 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

First new car I've ever owned, now 8k miles. I live in LA and it's terrific to get around town with some style, nimble on the freeways (although it has large blind-spots), and way too much fun in the canyons. Fine in rain but lousy in snow. Engine's quirky but really fun once you get used to it. Doesn't feel underpowered, but I know Mazda changed the gear ratios in 2009, I don't drive below 2800 RPM when in traffic, and I'd never consider this car as an automatic. Precise gearing/steering + sport suspension means your girlfriend probably can't do her make-up while riding shotgun. As designed it drinks oil, about 1 quart every 1k miles, no biggie. I'm 6' and have just enough headroom.

Talk About The 2009 RX-8

2009 Mazda RX-8 Discussions See all Started By

Our 1991 Miata is getting long in the tooth (as am I). A dealer here in Florida has a 2007 Miata and a 2009 RX-8, both Red each around $19K (too high, but the RX-8 base is more realistic price accordi...

Our 1991 Miata is getting long in the tooth (as am I). A dealer here in Florida has a 2007 Miata and a 2009 RX-8, both Red each around $19K (too high, but the RX-8 base is more realistic price accordi...

Mazda Engineers Push for a Return to Rear-Wheel Drive Mazda engineers are lobbying for revival of rear-wheel-drive models, saying that the strategy would help the Japanese automaker to better differe?...

Gas Mileage


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