This is my third Mazda Rotary vehicle (following a 1988 RX-7 GXL, and a 1994 3rd Gen RX-7), and I have to say I am pretty happy with it. I hadn't planned on getting another car, but my 15 year old 3rd gen RX-7 was totaled almost a month ago :-(, And I KNEW the "8" couldn't match the 3rd gen's stellar performance since the "8" is 300-400 pounds heavier, about 110 less horsepower (I'd had some things done to my 3rd gen) and doesn't benefit from the 3rd gen's 50-some-odd better low end torque (compliments of that sequential twin turbo setup). But I knew these things off the bat. But the one thing that's still the same is the razor sharp cornering ability! And the smoothness of the rotary.
The "performance" pieces: 18" wheels, & the strut tower brace. The outer styling has kinda grown on me too. I was already used to the engine and all. And BTW, I'm getting better gas mileage (25-26mpg highway + city) than I got with my 300hp 3rd gen (abou 23-24mpg).
For some strange reason, the gas tank nozzle isn't as vertical as the one in the 3rd gen; so I'm constantly spilling gas when trying to fill it up to the max! It would also have been nice to retain the "always shows gas level in the tank even with the ignition OFF" gas gauge design from the 3rd gen.
Ok, I purchased a 09 with 503 miles on it: Used. I guess a guy bought it for a month and traded it, so I ended up with great deal for 19k out the door. Besides price the car is basically a Mazda 3 with a very nice body style. Having owned a Mustang GT, Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, Maxima, G35 in recent years, this vehicle tops bang for the buck. Style is key since laser radar is everywhere now a days, but cruising in this is awesome. Smooth and you get plenty of looks, just don't race anyone unless you buy the higher end model. Interior is tight, drives on rails: reminds me of my G35. Reliability seems to be good, 95% of it is made in Japan.
Styling, handling, fit/finish, styling
Slighly more horsepower for the base and better center console. Eliminate the ugly paddles for shifting/stupid looking on a very nice dash.
I have to say this is my first RX8 I have ever owned/driven. I love the car, it feels, sounds and drives so well. It has a very smooth engine. I agree with other sites that the car doesn't have a lot of torque, but it picks up very well. The car is designed to handle, not for pure brute speed. 4 door 4 seater sports car, very sleek looking. I couldn't have gotten anything better for my first sports car at this price range. My advise to anyone interested in the car, test drive it. Actions speak louder than words.
Engine, smooth ride, sounds great, picks up fast too.
Better gas mileage only because of prices, and maybe more torque.