The Rotary Legacy; Mazda’s RX-8
The Mazda RX-8 was released in 2004 and was designed to be the successor to the RX-7. Well-known for its amazing performance and impeccable handling the RX-7 left some big shoes to fill for the RX-8. Mazda chose to continue to use a Wankel rotary engine to power the RX-8 as with previous models. The RX-8 offered more convenience features than the RX-7; while the RX-7 was built as a true sports car, the RX-8 tames down performance in order to provide a more suitable daily driving experience.
The Rotary Advantage
When the RX-8 was released in 2004, Mazda’s use of rotary engines was well-known and well-received. Rotary enginesfeature fewer moving parts, and are lighter and simpler than conventional piston engines. These characteristics make them ideal for performance applications as Mazda had so clearly demonstrated with the RX-7. Wankel engines also feature higher redline limits than conventional engines; the 1.3L Wankel found in the RX-8 was capable of a solid 247 hp and featured a redline of 9,000 rpms.
While this output was very similar to that of the twin-turbocharged RX-7 that had come before it, the RX-8 was also heavier. This meant that the RX-8 wasn’t quite as sporty as its predecessor, but what it sacrificed in speed, it gained in convenience.
The RX-7 was known for its great handling but also for its lack of features; in order to keep the car light many convenience options were omitted. The newer RX-8 is several hundred pounds heavier but still manages to maintain the engaging driving dynamics of the RX-7. Drivers could equip the RX-8 with Recaro racing seats, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, keyless ignition and entry, heated leather seats, and even a Bose stereo among many other available features.
The RX-8 exemplifies the spirit of the RX-7 soundly by maintaining the tight handling and solid performance the esteemed import was known for. While the RX-8 doesn’t quite match the RX-7 in terms of performance, it makes a much more suitable choice as a daily driver thanks to the updated interior.