From its distinctive exterior styling to its unique rotary engine, the Mazda RX-8 is a mold-breaker. It is in serious need of a cabin-tech upgrade, but its precise handling and high-revving engine are a joy.
The RX-8's suicide--or "freestyle"--doors open and close without the need for a B-pillar. For this design to work, the back door has to be closed before the front door (which latches to it, as it would to a B-pillar).
The real story with the RX-8 is its 1.3-liter Renesis rotary engine, which is the only one of its kind currently in production. It works by replacing the pistons, valves, and other reciprocating parts of a regular internal combustion engine with two chambers, each containing a three-sided rotor orbiting a central axle. Despite its low displacement, the rotary engine puts out around 240 horsepower.
The RX-8's Grand Touring's standard audio system comprises an in-dash, six-disc changer without the ability to read MP3 or WMA discs. From the evidence of a redundant button on the right of the stereo, it appears that the RX-8 may have once offered tape deck and even minidisc playback capabilities.
Another notable feature of the RX-8's design is the prevalence of triangular symbols inside and out: A reference to the engine's three-sided rotor, these devices adorn the headrests, the gear shifter, and even the top of the hood, giving the cabin a slightly Masonic feel.