Strictly on a numbers basis, the RX-8 is weak for its class. The rotary engine needs lots of revs, but is exceptionally smooth and sounds unlike anything else. Six-speed manual is extremely precise. Fuel mileage is pitiful.
Excellent braking, with short distances and terrific feel through the pedal. Handling numbers don't lead the class, but the feedback to the driver makes the RX-8 an enthusiast's favorite. Steering has a natural feel, despite electric assist.
Can get jiggly over cement freeway slabs, but in general this is not a bad riding sports car. The long wheelbase of this four-passenger package surely helps. Comfortable front seats, too.
Our decibel meter rates the RX-8 as one of the louder cars we've tested. But, there's good loud and bad loud, and the RX-8's smooth, high-revving rotary makes sweet sounds. Wind noise is negligible, but some hum from the summer tires.
Overly high driving position is major foible. Love the huge, easy-to-read centeral tachometer and digital speedo. Simple and effective HVAC controls. Outdated Mazda audio unit still has tuning knob at far left, where volume should be.
Small A-pillars and small side mirrors but very thick B- and super-thick C-pillars, the last two giving a large blind spot when trying to change lanes in traffic. No backup camera or parking sonar.
Seat Access & Space
Plenty of front leg room, but otherwise the RX-8's cabin is on the cramped side. Reverse-hinged rear doors do make entry far easier than typical 2+2 sports cars. The rear seats are for average size adults and smaller, only.
Cargo & Storage
The RX-8's 7.6 cu.-ft. trunk is awkwardly shaped. Rear seats don't fold down, either, but there is a ski pass-through. Narrow door pockets, small and rearward-situated center armrest bin. Slippery front cupholder surfaces; none in rear.
A solidly built car. Biggest oddity was the fuel filler flap, which didn't sit perfectly flush with the body. Lots of hard-touch plastic inside the RX-8, but the controls all have a very nice tactile feel in the way that they work.
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