The Mazda RX-8 was manufactured as the replacement for the RX-7 and was made available for sale in the United States for the 2004 model year. This sports coupe was actually the first MAZDASPEED model made available for sale in the US, though the model name did not indicate that it was based on this high performance platform. This unique coupe was agile, uniquely equipped and cleverly designed.
The Mazda name is recognized and associated with manufacturers of high quality performance sports cars. The RX-8 did not deter from this relatively impeccable reputation, moving gracefully forward with an electric assist steering system, accurate and awe inspiring steering and shifting mechanisms and an outstanding braking system. Handling and suspension were superior and the car was quick to respond. Front and rear spoilers, side skirts and 18" lightweight magnesium wheels contributed to its handsome good looks.
The 2004 RX-8 also marked the return of the rotary engine, which operates through the use of rotors as opposed to pistons to distribute power in a smooth and fairly undetectable flow toward lightweight, compact high performance based engines. Although an unsuccessful attempt to popularize rotary engines was attempted several years ago, the primary concerns expressed at that time were addressed in the now very emissions compliant 2004 version. The 1.3 liter, 250 horsepower rotary engine delivered better performance and was exceptionally fuel efficient. Mazda continues be the only automobile manufacturer to invest in the potential of the rotary engine, as no other manufacturers to date have chosen to move in this direction.
The rear entry and exits points on this appealing ride are very clever in design. Though from a distance you could never tell, this coupe has four doors - 2 front and 2 smaller in the rear-and accommodates four adults. Its compact size does not extend more than the minimum amount of comfort to rear seat passengers, but the seat is truly a useable back seat with a door on each side for easy access to the rear from either the right or left hand sides of the car. The doors themselves are virtually hidden from sight by the RX-8's intelligent body style which seamlessly integrates the rear doors into the streamlined design. To open or close the rear doors the front doors must be opened first which eliminates any apparent rear door handles on the exterior of the car.
The RX-8 handled superbly and delivered a smooth and quiet ride-the kind of ride typically associated with luxury sedans. Trim styles, features and option packages were appropriately enhanced for the 2006 and 2007 model years. The Mazda RX-8 entered the 2007 model year with new trim styles. 2007 models are now represented by the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring model names. Other than trims, the 2007 RX-8 is not very dissimilar to its model year predecessor. Passionate drivers who desire a slight hint of genuine practicality combined with a comfortable ride and sports car performance will surely be more than satisfied with the Mazda RX-8.