The 2008 Mazda RX-8 offers brisk performance and true 4-passenger seating while maintaining the appearance of a racy sports coupe. Its rear hinged, hidden access half doors allow for easy entry and exit of the exquisitely designed cabin and roomy back seats, yet preserves its curvaceous exterior appeal. Power is provided by a distinctive rotary engine not found in many other cars today. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the rotary engine, Mazda has introduced the 40th Anniversary Edition RX-8 for the 2008 model year which comes with a gray exterior and red leather interior, a chrome engine cover, a firmer suspension system and specially designed 18 inch alloy wheels. Also new this year is the availability of a navigation system for the top of the line trim-the Grand Touring.
This sports car is available in 3 trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. All are available with your choice of an extremely interactive 6 speed manual transmission or a 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters that enable quick manual shifts. The Sport version paired with the automatic transmission comes standard with 16 inch alloy wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning and an AM/FM/CD stereo system. The Touring adds fog lights, a sunroof, HomeLink technology, xenon headlights, an auto dimming rear view mirror and replaces the stereo with a premium Bose sound system with CD changer. The Grand Touring provides luxuries such as heated and power adjustable leather seats and heated side view mirrors. When paired with the manual transmission, the RX-8 Sport, Touring and Grand Touring all gain enhanced performance with corresponding features that include 18 inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, limited-slip differential and larger front brakes.
All versions of the Mazda RX-8 are rear wheel drive and feature a distinctive 1.3 liter rotary engine. Although output depends upon transmission choice, when mated to the 6 speed paddle shift enabled automatic transmission, this rotary engine cranks out 212 horsepower, while RX-8's paired with the 6 speed manual transmission deliver 232 horsepower. Both transmissions are smooth and change gears precisely. Rotary engines are smaller and lighter than conventional combustion engines, and because of the rotors constant circular motion and its lack of pistons and valves, vibration is significantly reduced, throttle response is virtually immediate and an exuberant mechanical growl replaces the ordinary sound associated with a typically designed powertrain. Although this engine puts out a lot of power for its size, it is not exceptionally fuel efficient, clean burning or quick to accelerate from a stand still and typically takes about 7 seconds to go from 0 to 60, which is less than average for a sports car but still relatively quick. EPA estimates are rather disappointing at 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway, but thus is the trade off for the thrilling performance of the rotary engine. Though there are more luxurious and exclusive sports cars from which to choose, the 2008 Mazda RX-8 offers admirable performance at a relatively affordable price and has the rare ability to transport 4 adults comfortably within the limited yet gracious and functionally designed confines of a lightweight coupe.