Mazda RX-8: PH Carpool
Following one that was flooded and one MoT failure, this PHer has an RX-8 for keeps!
Car: Mazda RX-8 R3
Owned since: May 2016
Previously owned: VW Golf MkII, Mitsubishi Colt, Mazda MX-5 MkI x2 and two other RX-8s (a 192 and another R3)
"I had owned two RX-8s previous to this one, starting with a blue R3. I loved it, but sadly the 2014 floods put paid to that! The budget was tight, so I bought a 2004 192hp RX-8 to tide me over, and it did well until the MOT failure sheet was rather long...
"Enter the new R3! I knew from my previous experiences that I wanted another RX-8, specifically an R3 as they come with some gorgeous alloys, more aggressive styling and some plush Recaro seats inside. The one that I'd found was somewhat of a bargain low-miler as it had previously been written off. The repairs looked good, and having owned a couple before, I knew my way around it with a spanner to fix any issues that may arise. I also knew the damage that had happened to it, which was almost all cosmetic front and rear."
What I wish I'd known:
"Not much, to be honest. I went in to it with eyes wide open in terms of the damage and thought I had the measure of some of the issues that it had because of it. I was soon stuck at a Cadwell Park track day though as the rear diff began whining quite badly... But I swapped that out thanks to an RX-8 breaker and Rotary Revs up in Batley and things have been happy ever since!"
"9,500rpm and a stainless steel exhaust! As per a quote on the CobraSport Exhaust reviews page it sounds 'Like god stepping on a Lego brick' - which is spot on. With the de-cat pipe on for track work it sound tested at 101dB!
"Beyond sounding like a wailing banshee, the chassis is just so well balanced with the engine nice and low and the 50/50 weight distribution. The handling is phenomenal regardless of whether you're on a country lane or a racing circuit.
"The drive of the rotary engine is also intoxicating. Low on torque, but high on revs, it just lures you in to pushing it up higher and higher in the rev range. Just wait until the remap happens and that limit creeps above 10,000..."
Things I hate:
"The new A6 Allroad which has replaced it as my daily driver! A lie, in truth, as I do like the barge for daily duties.
"Things I hate about the RX-8 are few and far between, the main ones being that you can't just move it around on the driveway without warming the engine up first. The fact it is a smidge too low to get on to my ramps at home mean I have to get wooden blocks out every time, and the fact that the exhaust has a propensity to melt the rear bumper on track days... You know, trivial things!"
"RX-8s aren't cheap things to run. Full stop. I bought into it knowing this full well, but it does still surprise me at times. The 19-inch alloys aren't cheap to put tyres on, it does around 23mpg day to day - which isn't ideal - although the oil consumption is far lower than the skeptics would have you believe. Road tax isn't so friendly up in the top bracket (£515 a year).
"Modifications aren't cheap for the R3 and replacement parts can be hard to come or expensive by as there were only about 800 originally sold in the UK before the EU emissions regulations put paid to new sales in the UK. Thankfully there are a lot of friendly breakers on the RX-8 Owners' Club forum, so you can find the odd part when you need it!"
Where I've been:
"All over the UK so far - up to Edinburgh, down to Brighton and all points in between. My job requires a fair amount of travel and up until two weeks ago it has been my daily driver, covering about 15,000 miles.
"A supercharger? Oh, next car?! I don't know. I can't envisage selling it any time soon as the rotary engine is just so special. I'd love to get a completely standard FD RX-7, but the amount of money they're commanding at the moment is crazy. I think I'd quite like to have a go in something big and V8 - complete opposite end of the spectrum - something with all the torque in the world but that doesn't like to turn corners."
I liked it though. If the running costs weren't so hairy...............
I like 'em, they're a left field kind of car and that floats my boat, but I wouldn't own one.
It was much more practical than a Audi TT I was also thinking of buying... The only thing that bugged me was to open the rear doors, you had to open the front doors first. Doesnt sound like much, but it became a tight squeeze to get my sons in & out while on the weekly supermarket duty!
I never had any issues with the car - I lie, a xenon bulb went once... £60 later!
Am I right in thinking the R3 had a revised engine with extra oil nipples or something that make it more reliable and less prone to rotor tip failure?
Really hope mazda come good with the RX9 they were rumoured to be working on, even if it has to be a hybrid, sticking a generator straight on a 9krpm rotary would surely produce 1.21 Jiggawatts of power!
Lovely car, but I think I'd be sticking with the standard exhaust!
And with regards to the reliability that people mention, the later R3 is a much more reliable beast, but they are similar to classic cars in the respect that they need to be thoroughly looked after - regular oil changes, warmed through etc.
If you treat them right then they last well enough (they still suffer from tin-worm as most japanese cars do), and the lack of torque means you have to drive them different, but if you do you'll be rewarded!
They're not straight line weapons, though...
Combustions per minute is rather different and obviously in the case of a piston engine depends massively on the number of cylinders. A wankel engine fires three times per revolution, so the same as a six cylinder four-stroke engine.
ETA: It's arguably more analogous to a three-cylinder two-stroke, though.
Increasing the rev limit can be done also, hence why I'm getting it done :P Mainly because the power drop off happens at about 9,300ish with the optimum shift point at about 9,800. As such it should make for a slightly better rounded track machine as the 2nd to 3rd RPM drop can be a bit big for my liking...
And the above posts regarding the rotary RPM are both correct :P the Eccentric shaft (rotary equivalent to a crank) spins at the denoted RPM, so 10,000 times per minute, but the rotors themselves on rotate at a third of that.
So for every single rotor revolution, the E-shaft spins 3 times.
However after 6000 miles and a track day, proper 4 seat usability and a driving experience that really rewards working the gears and hunting redline, it has really got under my skin.
If you like instant thrust of modern V8 / diesel / turbo cars, this is absolutely not for you. If you like to work the box and engine, then it is great fun.
It is the slowest car I have owned in over 10 years, but it is up there with the funnest for day to day driving.
£ for lb, I think these are unbeatable as fun sports cars, and unique if you want high revving NA, manual box, RWD and real 4 seat practicality, wrapped up in a very neat coupe body.
Handling and usability was utterly fantastic. It was our 'family' car with a toddler and a baby...it really was that practical. Also loved the MX-5 derived gearbox. Still one of the best of ay car I have had.
I was getting 16-20mpg no matter how I drove it. I only had mine for a year and 6k miles, but apparently the MPG improves a little once you got into year 2/10k miles plus. Same for oil consumption - I was going through a lot of oil, but noticed that lessen towards the end of my ownership. The biggest ballache is not the MPG, but the tiny tank. I was having to fill up every 225 miles. I always said that if I could put twice as much fuel in, I wouldn't care what the MPG was - it was just a pain standing at the pumps as often as I had to.
As for the torque - it's not so much that it has 'none', but that the curve is so flat. If you are used to that non-linear curve giving you a shove and then tailing off, you really will feel like it has no torque...and ok it doesn't have loads, but it is just 'different' and fun in it's own right.
I ultimately got rid of mine after a year because after my experience with the original car, I never fully trusted the second one. I was always waiting for the cough and white smoke. Just never really trusted it. So whilst it was in for it's 1st service (£99!!!) I walked across the road to the VW dealer and bought a Mk5 GTI that was in the showroom. Lost my shirt in depreciation on the RX8, but there you go!