2004-2005 Mazda RX-8 / RX8 Renesis Rotary Review – Modern Racer – Auto Archive

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2004-2005 Mazda RX-8 / RX8 Renesis Rotary Review – Modern Racer – Auto Archive

2004-2005 Mazda RX-8

Pros :

– Return of lightweight rotary engine.

– Four-door practicality.

– Two-door sporty looks.

– Well-balanced chassis due to front mid-ship engine placement.

– Affordable price.

Cons :

– Improved, but still poor fuel economy.

– Rotary engine expensive to repair.

– Four-passenger interior results in oddly-proportioned exterior.

– Not as powerful as its 2-seater rival, the Nissan 350Z.

– Claustrophobic rear passenger space.

Interior :

Press Coverage :

The new Mazda RX-8 is the company’s new-generation halo model following the demise of the RX-7. The RX-8 marks the return of the notorious rotary engine to the United States. The twin-rotor rotary engine is a Mazda trademark, as no automaker has dared to try out the rotary. The rotary engine was developed by German engineer Dr. Felix Wankel decades ago and fine-tuned by Mazda all these years.

The new-generation Renesis rotary is Mazda’s latest version of the engine, consisting of all of the RX-7 rotary’s hallmarks — compact in size, lightweight and super-smooth.

The rotary is a proper high-revving engine for a proper sports car. The Mazda RX-8 is no doubt a proper sports car, but it even has room for four full-size adults, with two rear-hinged suicide doors that swing out 80 degrees. The rear doors can only open when the front ones are open.

When all four doors are open, there are no center roof pillars. The drawback to the RX-8’s shell is that the C-pillars are thick, impeding driver visibility. The rear side windows don’t roll down, but tilt out slightly for ventilation. Also adding to rear-passenger discomfort is that the RX-8 is low, so getting in and out of the back seat is somewhat of an annoyance.

The interior is very quiet when all the windows are rolled up, and all the seats are fairly supportive, especially the front buckets. The RX-8 interior has rotary cues all over the place, with headrests, shifter and stereo face shaped like an engine rotor. The ergonomics of the whole interior setup is pretty good overall, and the tachometer is centrally located on the gauge cluster, with the speedometer reduced to a small digital readout only.

Safety features include front side airbags and curtain side airbags.

Besides the miniscule speedometer, other quirks include V8-like fuel economy, which is not a good thing of course. And the engine requires an oil change more often than most other new cars on the road. Moreover, the dipstick is hard to reach in the first place, requiring the removal of the plastic engine cover every time. Also, Mazda failed to keep its promise of delivering a whole 250 hp figure.

However, given the RX-8’s ability to provide immense driving pleasure, the quirks appear minor.

The cheaper 4-speed automatic model comes with only 197 hp, redlining at 7500 rpm. Standard features include manual-shift ability, 16-inch wheels and softer suspension. The 6-speed manual model is the real sports car of the range, with standard 18-inch wheels, sports suspension and a screaming 238 hp rotary that revs up to 9000 rpm. The manual also costs $1500 more. However, sports suspension and 18-inch wheels are available as options on the automatic.

Xenon headlights, 900W stereo, leather, DVD navigation and a light body kit are optional on both models.

ModernRacer.com

With the RX-8, Mazda will reintroduce the rotary engine, but in a more affordable, practical package than the RX-7.

The Mazda RX-8 will use a new, normally aspirated version of the rotary engine rated at 250 horsepower; the proposed engine is 30 percent lighter and smaller than the engine used in the RX-7. Unlike the third-generation RX-7, the RX-8 is not turbocharged, making its engine less costly.

Poor fuel economy and high levels of exhaust pollution have been challenges for the rotary engine in the past, but the RX-8 rotary engine features a new design that Mazda says will boost economy and clean up emissions. The redesigned engine also features a sporty low-pitched exhaust rumble, instead of the rotary engine’s more typical high-pitched drone, Mazda executives said.

As before, the compact engine is mounted in the front of the car, but behind the front axle, to provide perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution for ideal handling characteristics. A new oil pan, half as deep as the sump on the RX-7, allows the engine to sit lower in the car, contributing to a lower center of gravity for better handling. A six-speed gearbox transmits power to the rear wheels, adding to the RX-8’s sports car credentials.

The company has aggressively trimmed mass from the RX-8 concept using aluminum and plastic for body panels and even installing a carbon composite driveshaft. Double-wishbone suspension (also known as unequal length control arm suspension) and large-diameter disc brakes reside at all four corners, boosting expectations that the RX-8 will put smiles on the faces of drivers who value responsive handling.

To broaden the car’s appeal, Mazda has packed sedan-like interior space into the RX-8, squeezing that space under a coupe-styled exterior. The company boasts that the 10-cubic-foot trunk area will accommodate a pair of size 67 Samsonite suitcases. Access to the relatively spacious rear seat is through a pair of rear-hinged suicide doors, similar to the third door on the Saturn coupe.

While this design makes the RX-8 unquestionably more flexible than the RX-7, the jury is out on whether the resulting styling will be popular with prospective customers. Sports car and coupe buyers are a fashion-conscious lot after all.

The styling is notably smoother and more attractive than the RX-EVOLV concept, which foreshadowed some of the RX-8’s styling themes when it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1999. RX-8 is slightly reminiscent of the styling of Mazda’s MX-3 2+2 coupe of the early ’90s. The view from the rear looks a bit like a Miata with the optional hardtop in place.

The high roofline that gives the Mazda RX-8 its slightly hunchbacked profile provides headroom for adult rear-seat passengers. That space, combined with the ease of entry and exit through the rear doors will make the RX-8 a practical sports car.

Nctd.com

With no quick-release handle to tilt the front seats forward, rear passengers have to wait in claustrophobic silence to be let out. To ensure that the pillarless RX-8 should be at least as safe in a side impact as a similar-sized four-door saloon, it has ‘virtual B-pillars’, integral crash beams, locking pins, special steel latches, and side and curtain air bags.

Front seat passengers are rather better catered for. The steering wheel only adjusts up and down, but the seats’ every-way adjustment more than compensates for even tall drivers. The chairs are comfortable, with excellent side support.

Spin the starter and you are rewarded with that typical rotary whirr. Blip the throttle and the rev-counter needle flips up, changing only the engine’s pitch, not its volume. You need to use those revs, particularly when pulling away and through the gears, but the clutch and throttle electronics are refined and swapping ratios is no hardship.

Ford’s best set-up men have been working on the RX-8’s handling and it shows. Don’t expect kart-style, flat cornering, that’s not what this car is all about. The chassis responds accurately, and while the body does roll, it is well restricted.

The electronically-assisted steering is reminiscent of the Ford Focus; well weighted, and full of feel and life, but it’s the fluidity of the handling that impresses most.

On a smooth track, the Mazda would be outclassed, but on real-world, opposite camber, slippery and bumpy corners, the RX-8 is an agile and super-fast machine. Stability control electronics don’t induce the understeer of rival systems, even allowing a small amount of oversteer before reining things in.

With them switched off, the RX-8 is a flattering and controllable machine, with none of the unpredictable oversteer that made early RX-7s so terrifying. The all-round disc brakes are powerful stoppers, with good pedal feedback; anti-lock and electronic brake force distribution come as standard.

Evo.co.uk

History:

1993-1997 Mazda MX-6 LS

2,507 cc / 164 hp / 160 lb-ft / 2833-2911 lbs / 0-60 mph 8.0 sec.

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