2010 Mazda RX-8 Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2010 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 Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2010 Mazda RX-8

  • Providing sports-car performance along with four-passenger capacity, the 2010 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, 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 2010

    For 2010, the Mazda RX-8 lineup loses the Touring model and the Premium package. As a result, equipment shuffling ensues and the Grand Touring trim picks up more standard features.

Full 2010 Mazda RX-8 Review

What's New for 2010

For 2010, the Mazda RX-8 lineup loses the Touring model and the Premium package. As a result, equipment shuffling ensues and the Grand Touring trim picks up more standard features.


The 2010 Mazda RX-8 marches (or should we say drives) to the beat of a very different drummer. First of all, it's pleasingly lightweight and boasts a communicative, well-balanced chassis, two things that are increasingly rare in today's world of bloated sedans and SUVs. Second, the RX-8 boasts a rotary engine rather than typical sports-car choices like an inline-4, V6 or V8. The RX-8 also has a surprisingly roomy backseat that's easily accessed by a pair of smaller rear-hinged doors. The RX-8 might be a bit of an oddball, but it's certainly an endearing one.

No other current production car in the world has a rotary (a.k.a. "Wankel" after its inventor, Felix Wankel) engine, which has a pair of somewhat triangular-shaped "rotors" that spin smoothly in one direction, as opposed to pistons that move up and down. This design allows the RX-8's engine to rev up to a 9,000 rpm redline with the ease of a Makita drill. This eagerness, along with the uncannily smooth power delivery and jet-enginelike sound, make piloting the 2010 Mazda RX-8 a real kick for enthusiasts.

But there is a price to pay -- actually two prices to pay -- for the thrill of driving the only rotary-powered car on the planet. One is the rotary's lack of low-end torque, which can sometimes be annoying in everyday use. "So just keep in on the boil -- it's more fun that way anyway," you may think. But while the 1.3-liter rotary is very efficient in terms of power for its displacement, the inverse is true of fuel economy. That lovable high-revving nature does a job on fuel consumption -- mileage ratings for the 3,000-pound RX-8 are the same as those for the company's full-size, 4,300-pound seven-passenger CX-9 crossover SUV.

Sadly, that last point really hurts the RX-8's recommendation factor. Given the car's stellar handing and smooth performance, we could live with the rotary's soft low-end performance if it got decent mileage. But having the former along with a V8-like thirst for fuel is a double whammy for the Wankel. The BMW 128i, Chevrolet Camaro, Mustang GT and Nissan 370Z provide better performance and/or fuel economy for a similar price. That said, none of those cars provide the RX-8's practical four-door coupe body style or that uniquely thrilling rotary engine.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2010 Mazda RX-8 is a four-seat coupe with a pair of rear-hinged access doors. There are three trim levels: Sport, 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 Grand Touring trim adds a limited-slip rear differential, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 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 (with satellite radio and a six-CD changer).

The high-performance R3 trim level has a handful of the Grand Touring features (such as xenon headlights, Bluetooth, keyless ignition/entry and the Bose audio system) and adds a more aggressively tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, a rear wing spoiler, a restyled front bumper and Recaro front sport seats.

The lone option is a touchscreen navigation system (with voice commands) for the Grand Touring.

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 horsepower 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 for a manual-equipped RX-8.


The 2010 Mazda RX-8 comes standard with antilock brakes, front side airbags and front side curtain airbags. Stability control isn't offered on the Sport trim but is standard on the Grand Touring and R3. 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 2010 RX-8 a serious advantage over class rivals is its true four-passenger capacity. The Mazda-dubbed "free style" reverse-opening rear doors -- they're of the same design that many extended-cab compact pickups have -- make loading people and cargo much easier. Provided they are shorter than 6 feet tall, passengers 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 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 triangle details throughout the cabin, a visual homage to the car's rotary engine design. Although the gauges are easily read, we have 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 operated through a touchscreen and voice recognition interface, which works well.

Driving Impressions

Although the 2010 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 its compliant ride means that the RX-8 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 power 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 for under 30k

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 Sport 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

bought it just before i left overseas... Have only driven it for 6000 miles and I love it!.. Faster then Mustangs and anything close.. I beat Mazdaspeed 3's and 6's that have 264hp.. Rare as heck. 1000 sold for 2010 and Im the proud owner of one.. Love the windy roads with it, you can hit apex's flawlessly and if your tail slides out a bit you can fix it with one finger on the wheel (Ive done it). The interior is spectacular. I looked at WRX's 350 z's and nothing compares to the Rx8.. Don't drive fast in the rain because it tends to slide... and Snow or Ice forget about it... Rx8's are Summer sports cars that like parking in garage

What a great car!

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 R3 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Purchased as a car-show dealer's demo in OCtober 2010. Driven three seasons - never in snow. Currently at 12,000 miles. Bets handling car I have ever owned, or driven. Test drove about 25 cars before buying this one (and a VW GTi for my wife). Best of all of them, including BMW roadster, Mitsubishis, Toyotas (no real competitor with the demise of the S2000), Porsches (too expensive to repair!), and Nissan Z. I think this is the best affordable sports car available. Holds its value as well, at least so far. No mechanical or other problems to date.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

We bonded

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Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

This is a true sports car, the sound is zoom zoom. It handles like a dream, with space for four adults and a trunk. Gas mileage and the fact you need hi test is the only downside. But based on the purchase price compared to the rest out there its worth it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A nimble athlete

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Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 Sport 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6A)

This car is more rare and more fun to drive than a mustang gt. The mustang has more horsepower but it is not quite as nimble as the rx8 is and this car is even more agile on winding roads than a corvette.This car is almost like a speed bike in its performance and the way it sounds when it accelerates and really gets going.Its a major fun machine to drive everyday.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A sports car like no

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Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 R3 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

I used to own a RX8 6 years ago. It slipped out of my hands, and now I'm proud to say that I'm back in this car: A 2010 RX8 R3. There's a lot of criticism on this car within the media. Mostly because of its lack of power, poor fuel economy, and higher than normal oil consumption. Not many people understand how good of a sports car it is. It has an extremely rich driving experience. It's one of the lightest and most nimble cars out there, and you can really appreciate that when you start pushing the car. The last 2 cars I've owned before this were clearly more faster & expensive, yet this is the car that I truly connected with. It's hard to explain in words, but this car is irreplaceable.

Rx7 touring

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Vehicle: 2010 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

Leased this vehicle for two years and returned back to the dealership as soon as the lease up. First, the gas mileage is like and worst than a $100k sport car. Second, the car is so under power and you have to push to 5000 rpm in a daily driving like passing on the highway, not in racing with somebody. However for couple thousands under invoice and thousands of incentives kick-in, it is not a bad car at all. It is a best buy for someone who wants a super handling sport car with 4 doors but don't mind of gas mileages and the durability of mechanical parts. Lease could be the best idea.

Talk About The 2010 RX-8

2010 Mazda RX-8 Discussions See all Started By

manuals. They already use them in the MX-5, RX-8, Mazdaspeed3 and 09 Mazda6 i. They may introduce it in 2010. Until Mazda tells us why, all we can do is speculate....

We bought our son an rx-8 and didn't know about all the problems. He had it for about a year, then the engine wouldn't start. We took it to the dealer. By now, Mazda had extended the warranties on ...

Gas Mileage


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