The Good With its high-revving rotary engine and consummate handling, the swoopy 2008 Mazda RX-8 delivers a smooth, well-balanced ride with plenty of poke near the redline.
The Bad The RX-8 suffers from lackluster performance at low rpms and lamentable gas mileage. Its cabin electronics are in urgent need of an upgrade.
The Bottom Line With its distinctive high-revving rotary engine and comic book exterior styling, the Mazda RX-8 differentiates from the competition. Its cabin tech is badly outdated, but that doesn't stop it from being a blast to drive.
2008 Mazda RX-8 Grand Touring 4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)
If there is any justification for Mazda's claim to being the brand of "zoom zoom" driving, it is the RX-8 coupe. With its tiny rotary engine, chiseled exterior profile, and racing heritage, the RX-8 is an attractive and individual package that competes with cars above its price range.
Not much has changed in the drive train, exterior styling, or cabin tech of the RX-8 since its launch in 2004. Besides a slight reduction in power (the current model's 1.3-liter Renesis twin rotor engine delivers less horsepower than its '05 predecessor) and a new color scheme, the swoopy coupe has, like Honda's S2000, rested on its deserved laurels without any major upgrades. (An updated 2009 model of the RX-8 is scheduled to be unveiled at next month's Detroit auto show, we hear.)