2011 Mazda RX-8 Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

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 2011 Mazda RX-8

  • Offering an adrenaline surge with four-passenger capacity, the 2011 Mazda RX-8 has some practical advantages over the typical sport coupe but is let down by a lack of torque and an SUV-like thirst for fuel.

  • 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 and acceleration; small trunk opening.

  • What's New for 2011

    The 2011 Mazda RX-8 carries over unchanged.

Full 2011 Mazda RX-8 Review

What's New for 2011

The 2011 Mazda RX-8 carries over unchanged.


In the automotive marketplace, the 2011 Mazda RX-8 is an endearing oddball, a lightweight four-seat coupe with suicide doors, spectacular balance and a unique engine design that squeezes maximum power from minimum displacement. If not the true spiritual heir of the beloved RX-7, the RX-8 is a worthy, linear successor.

The RX-8 is still the only production car powered by a rotary engine, which uses a pair of 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 motor to spool up to 9,000 rpm with ease, but doesn't offer much power down low. The rotary's lack of low-end torque can be frustrating in town or in traffic, but its eagerness to scream -- along with buttery power delivery and jet-enginelike soundtrack -- makes piloting the 2011 Mazda RX-8 a real kick for enthusiasts.

But kicks cost, and the RX-8 incurs them at the pump. For all its efficiency making exemplary power from a small mill, the lithe 3,000-pound coupe gets about the same mileage as Mazda's full-size 4,300-pound seven-passenger CX-9 crossover SUV. Here our enthusiasm to recommend the RX-8 dampens. Given the car's athletic ability, we could live with the rotary's soft low-end performance if it got decent mileage. But minimal twist with a V8 thirst is a double whammy.

This is pretty much the same thing we've been saying since the RX-8 debuted in 2004. Newer competitors like the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro, 2011 Ford Mustang and 2011 Nissan 370Z provide better performance and/or fuel economy for a similar sticker price. But considering the RX-8's practical 2+2 layout and its comparable ease of access, it's a still a smart alternative choice in the sport coupe segment.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 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, 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. Manual-transmission models gain a limited-slip differential and rear lip spoiler.

The Grand Touring trim includes the limited-slip differential and spoiler, and adds 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, available only with the six-speed manual transmission, 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 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 that produces 212 horsepower through the six-speed automatic transmission, or 232 hp when equipped with the six-speed manual (at a breathtaking 9,000 rpm). Every RX-8 engine produces a meager 152 pound-feet of torque.

Although generally quick in the upper regions of the tachometer, the RX-8's acceleration is still below average for a sports car. In our tests, a manual-equipped RX-8 ran from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds; the last Mustang V6 coupe we tested did it in 5.6 seconds. Fuel economy is likewise unimpressive at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined (six-speed manual).


The 2011 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.

The RX-8 has not yet been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash tests. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011) were four stars (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

The "freestyle" (Mazda's term) reverse-opening doors give the 2011 RX-8 a unique edge on other performance coupes. Just as with an access-cab pickup, it's a lot easier getting into and out of the second row. Rear legroom is also decent and better than what you'll find in a Camaro. Passengers shorter than 6 feet tall will find supportive seating and ample room all around. The rear compartment is equally accommodating for luggage or grocery bags, but the trunk is a different matter. Its opening is narrow and there isn't an option to flip down the rear seats to increase capacity.

The RX-8's cockpit features a circular theme, with three round gauges and a circular central control stack that houses the stereo and climate control functions. Look around and you'll also see several triangle details, a design homage to the car's rotary engine design. The gauges are attractive enough and easy to read, but we get dizzy from the information overload of the audio/climate control central display. The optional navigation system, operated through a touchscreen and voice recognition interface, works well, however.

Driving Impressions

Although the 2011 Mazda RX-8 looks like a race-tuned sports car, its road demeanor is actually pretty docile. It offers solid steering feedback and plenty of grip in corners, but the ride won't beat you up during a daily urban commute. The rotary engine requires high engine speeds to make serious power, but its delivery is muted and virtually free of vibration. Few engines offer smoother feel and power delivery. Overall, the RX-8 is one of the best examples of a car that's both fun to drive and easy to live with every day. Just be prepared to pay at the pump.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Poor person's exotic

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda RX-8 R3 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

If you want a car that has universally been loved for its handling prowess, especially for cars under $100k, and you want a unique vehicle (the only rotary engine available in a modern car, "freestyle" doors that offer easier rear stea access while avoiding ridiculously long coupe doors, 9000 rpm redline, non-vanilla looks, etc), then the RX-8 (now only available as used) is an excellent option. I got my R3 new for less than what Insideline paid for their FR-S, so the value factor is excellent too. I drive the R3 on a daily basis, except when there is salt/snow on the road. I swapped out the OEM summer tires, and the handling is still great. Mileage is not a problem for my 22-mi round trip.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The 4-seat miata

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda RX-8 Sport 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

I am a Miata fan - had 3 of them in the past but had to let go due to having 3 kids. The RX-8 provides similar driving thrills but with the ability to seat 4 peoples so i can use it to pick/drop kids from school and still have fun driving. Everybody talks about rotary engine issues but Mazda offers 100K miles warranty on engine so don't see much point. Yes it requires topping off oil every 2nd or 3rd fillup but that's not a big deal at all. Infact, you will enjoy it - you will feel more involved with your car. I do miss the convertible part of Miata. Hoping they will build a rotary Miata someday.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

R3 is brilliant!

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda RX-8 R3 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

If you are a true enthusiast, the RX-8 R3 is for you; I drove the usual suspects- 370Z, G37s, 335i, all are great cars However, the way this car comes together, the hand-in-glove feel you get, the intoxicating sound, and the perfect steering and shifter, and firm yet comfortable suspension tuning make this car truly special. You have to know how to drive to let this car's brilliance shine through- there is nothing like it. Drove it through the Tail of the Dragon (US 129) and the car is made for it; StIs couldn't keep up, it is sheer brilliance when driven hard.

34 of 34 people found this review helpful

Unlike anything you have ever

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)

The RX-8 as a sports car is amazing. It is such a nice car to be in and drive because it looks great both inside and out, is comfortable, and handles phenomenally well. When you floor it, you are treated with a very responsive, short-throw transmission and an engine that will rev up to 9000rpm. When you want to relax, the seats are comfortable, the cabin is quiet, and the rotary engine gently hums as you go along at highway speeds in top gear. The only drawback to this car is the rotary. It's low on power and torque yet is as thirsty as a V-8. It is also designed to eat oil and requires a topping off every second fuel up. There is also the issue of flooding.

Talk About The 2011 RX-8

2011 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....

With Mazda, last year they did not introduce any new models (except the Mazda5) while dropping the RX-8 and Tribute. This year, they will have potentially three updated models (Mazda3, CX-5, and Mazd...

Read more about the 2011 Mazda RX-8

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411