Mazda RX-8: PH buying guide

A four-seat coupe from the early part of the century with 231hp and a 0-62mph in the low six-second bracket: has to be a BMW 330Ci, right? Wrong. It’s the Mazda RX-8, a car that is now so affordable it has to be tempting even for those who might otherwise be wary of its rotary engine and the reputation that has built up around it.

Cared-for RX-8s needn't be problematic
Cared-for RX-8s needn't be problematic
Much of the hype surrounding the RX-8’s thirst for expensive oil is undeserved, though the twin-rotor engine does need more owner involvement than many modern sports cars. If you’re prepared to make this very small sacrifice, the RX-8 can deliver 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds for the 231hp model, or 7.2 seconds for the less potent 192hp version.

By seeking out a cared-for example that has enjoyed careful owners and has a fastidious service record, many RX-8 owners report much lower oil consumption than legend would have you believe. Mazda recommends checking the oil level after every second fill of the tank, which is sound advice. When new, Mazda reckoned the RX-8 would use around 250ml of oil per 1000 miles, but most cars will use less.

Four-seat configuration is a selling point
Four-seat configuration is a selling point
The other key selling point of the RX-8 was its four-seat cabin and the easy access to the rear seats thanks to the ‘free style’ suicide back doors. They hinge open in the opposite direction to the front pair, creating a pillarless opening to rear seats that can genuinely accommodate adults.

The RX-8 was launched in the UK in 2003, with Mazda pocketing 1,000 pre-arrival deposits, and the car continued through to 2010. It was offered with 192- and 231hp versions of the Renesis rotary engine, costing £20,000 and £22,000 respectively when new. By the time the R3 model was discontinued, Mazda had sold more than 17,000 RX-8s in the UK.

Find a well looked-after Mazda RX-8 and you will enjoy one of the best driving experiences for this class of car. Best of all, it need not break the bank as RX-8s are available from £2,000 in reasonable nick, all the way to £10,000 for late model 2010 R3s with low miles.

Owner's view:
"Owning the RX8 is a lot like marmite. Fortunately I like marmite! I went into the car very open minded knowing all the horror stories related to them. It has not been cheap so far but for a nearly 8 year old sports car what can you expect?"
Julien Bicknell

Buying guide contents:
Rolling Chassis
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Comments (94) Join the discussion on the forum

  • SimonSaid 28 Mar 2013

    I thought it was fuel consumption, more than oil, that was so offputting with these?

  • carinaman 28 Mar 2013

    This feature is a bit too magazine like in it's approach IMO. When magazines have articles on buying used (CAR had one on these and RX-7s a couple of years ago) and they have a list of owner club and model specialist URLs it's a bit of a hint all the information you need is online.

    It's also a bit flaky when magazines consult owners clubs and they then leave an important, juicy bit from the article that subsequently appears in the magazine, especially when it's a well known problem that can kill motors, though that article was about a normal combustion engined car and not something as exotic as an RX-8.

    From reaidng online I've gathered that part of the issue with the ignition is the unburnt fuel washing the lubrication from the rotor tips leading to wear which leads to compression and starting issues. I am not sure that's clear from the third paragraph of the powertrain section.

    In the piece Dale Lomas did when he got his he mentioned that some owners put 2 stroke oil in the take with the fuel, pre-mixing and rigging up a separate oil feed so the engine uses that rather than using what's in the sump:

    Seems Dale didn't procure or fit the sohn adpator before his splendid looking RX-8 died at the ring.

    As a low mileage driver these have some appeal there may be something useful to be gleaned from the rest of the text.

    In the CAR article on them they said Mazda in the US opened a facility up to take back and repair RX-8 motors that died prematurely. They took 'ownership' of the problem and provided a solution there.

    Edited by carinaman on Thursday 28th March 13:48

  • big_boz 28 Mar 2013

    three words....

    Rotary Revs Batley

    20 minutes speaking to the owner will convince any non believer.

  • R26Andy 28 Mar 2013

    They 231's usually achieve about 160-170whp so there not as fast as quoted, at least in a straight line. The fuel economy therefore is the killer, if I was getting the quoted power output I may have put up with 15mpg but not when luke warm hatches and cdti's can just about keep up.

  • velocgee 28 Mar 2013

    big_boz said:
    three words....

    Rotary Revs Batley

    20 minutes speaking to the owner will convince any non believer.
    good advice on his website. what he does omit though is the shutting down procedure for a cold engine, which is to hold the revs at 4k rpm for about 7-10secs and switch off holding the throttle at that position. in 6 years i NEVER flooded my engine.

    i gave away a rather good Rex to someone of a censored and regret it to this.

    cracking cars.

    Edited by slinky on Thursday 28th March 18:08

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