Zoom…Zoom…Zoom. I have often felt that the people behind that famous phrase were geniuses. After all, it perfectly sums up Mazda’s emphasis on sporty fun, which the company seems to build into every vehicle that they make. This is particularly true of their 2006 Mazda RX8.
By Kevin “Crash” Corrigan
To call this car sporty is a bit like saying; “Mr. McCartney has had a little success with one or two of his songs”. The RX8 truly has to be one of the best looking sports models for the money on offer today.
The way which the fender lines follow those of the 225/45/18 rubber that the RX8 sits on is automotive design at its best. This is one sexy looking automobile which can turn heads with the best of them. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that it has the makings of a budget Super-Car.
Of course, there are not too many Super-Cars running around with 1.3 L engines, then again, they don’t have Mazda’s famed rotary engine in them. Over the years, a few manufacturers have dabbled with rotary power but Mazda has stuck with the idea and has produced some quite impressive vehicles utilizing this alternative engine design.
Unlike the more conventional engine, the rotary design does not have any pistons. Instead, it produces power via a triangular rotor running in what is basically an epileptical chamber. This idea involves much fewer moving parts, and it tends to runs smoother than the engines which we are used to. It also allows for much higher revs, in this case, almost 9000 RPM. Now, that is impressive! All this, of course, does come with some cost, as typically the rotary engine uses more oil than most and also tends to be a tad (premium) fuel thirsty.
Some of my colleagues have been heard to say that the RX8 could use a little more power, but I think that it is simply a car that you have to get used to. Because of the power plant, you need to become accustomed to driving it, and in particular, using the rev counter more. Of course, your ears tend to tell you when it is time to change gear, and we all trust them. With the RX8, the red-line is much higher than you think, and so you have to ignore that little inner voice and use all of the revs at your disposal. When you do this, and you work the six speed box effectively, this vehicle is no slouch. The figures say that the RX8 accelerates from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds. I don’t think that this is too shabby for a car of its size and its relatively small engine displacement; in fact, I’d call it quite impressive.
The ride of the RX8 is firm yet still manages to be comfortable. It holds the road extremely well and there is some nice feedback through the steering, even though it is electrically assisted. This car can corner with the best of them and I might even go as far as to say, that it has the edge on the Speed6 which I recently reviewed, and that’s an AWD vehicle; this is RWD.
This brings us to the interior of the RX8 which is equally as impressive. Mazda has made good use of quality materials and have produced a cabin area which is comfortable, yet can still yield excitement. The leather trimmed seats boast pleasant contrasting colors and the dashboard layout is typically Zoom...Zoom.
Everywhere on the vehicle you’ll find a distinctive triangular designed logo which relates to the rotary power unit. It can be seen in the shape of the hood, the front, the rear, and even on the interior carpets. This shows that the styling ideas have been truly thought through, and it is nice to see a manufacturer take that much care.
Opening the rear clam shell-like door gives access to the rear seats. As with a lot of coupes nowadays, rear leg room is more suitable to young children than adults, unless of course, you have cartoon-like characteristics, or are a contortionist. Then again, as with all RX models, this really is a driver’s car and this vehicle is definitely more about Zoom than room. After all, Mazda makes plenty of nice four door models if you need the latter.
So what’s the verdict? Is the RX8 a vehicle that I would want parked in my driveway?
Well, throughout this review, you may have noticed that I have used one particular word quite often, that word is “impressive”. That is exactly how I see this vehicle. It certainly has the looks, I like the performance, the sound of the engine, and the interior is a nice place to be. All in all, I was suitably impressed and I would have no objection whatsoever in making a little space available for one.