has a new spin on
accessories for the latest
generation of its unique rotary-
powered RX-8 four-door sports
coupe there are none!
THE NEW GENERATION RX-8 R3, unveiled earlier this year, will hit British
showrooms in late August. However, unlike just about every other car on the
road, there are no options offered on this one. It comes in at £24,995 and that
includes a very comprehensive standard equipment list with over a dozen items
of equipment not previously available on an RX-8.
In addition to the Sports Styling Pack, larger 19-inch diameter alloy wheels
and Recaro front seats, every R3 comes with twelve new items such as cruise
control, automatic light-sensing Xenon headlamps, automatic rain-sensing wipers,
an integrated Bluetooth system and special R3-badged carpet mats.
Owners will also enjoy the new BOSE premium audio system with Centerpoint surround
sound (and AudioPilot noise compensation technology) designed exclusively for
the R3 with an eight-channel digital amplifier. A six-CD autochanger, nine speakers,
and an AUX auxiliary jack for connecting an MP3 player, complete the audio system.
Externally, the new RX-8 has a standard-fit Sports Styling Pack comprising a
sports front bumper, side skirts and rear wing all finished in body colour.
The new model's front wings no longer feature the air-extractor vents behind
the wheel arches and, instead, accommodate the indicator repeater lights.
The more aggressive appearance created by the revised styling is complemented
by the larger diameter 19-inch alloy wheels shod with ultra-low profile 40-section
tyres. These new, extra-light wheels have five 'rotor'-shaped spokes and are
finished in dark titanium.
Under this stylish new skin sits a significantly improved and retuned 228bhp
1.3-litre engine with sharper responses and better lubrication to improve driving
pleasure, a reworked chassis incorporating Bilstein shocks, front wishbones
with rear multi-links and modified brakes and steering. The redesigned, stiffer
chassis promotes better handling and greater comfort and the front-midship engine
installation and rear-wheel drive configuration delivers an ideal 50:50 weight
One thing that hasn't changed is that the four-door coupe body, with its distinctive
rear hinged 'suicide' back doors, is really a two-plus-two with a small boot.
But what lies under the curvy coupe body is, in the right hands, just as impressive
as the looks.
It may only displace 1.3-litres but the retuned engine while it sounds
busy seems unburstable. There is a penalty, though, because the high-revving
rotary engine produces one of the highest emission figures for any car
299g/km and you can expect to average under 25mpg. It will, however,
get to 62mph in 6.4 seconds and on, where permissible, to a maximum speed of
Deserving an honourable mention is the RX-8 R3's light and direct six-speed
gear change (developed from that in the MX-5) and the beautifully balanced brakes
and electrically-assisted steering.
The major controls impart remarkable feel and feedback over twisting roads,
and the compliant sports suspension generally soaks up bumps without too many
of them jarring the interior. The mid-ship front engine/rear-wheel drive set-up
accounts for a lot of this fine balance, particularly over bumpy roads, and
there's tremendous grip from the low-pro tyres.
Room in the front seats is very good even if the Recaros are a tight fit for
some users, but the rear pair is of very limited practical use with virtually
no legroom when the front seats are set for six-footers.
Excellent visibility allows the driver to easily place the nimble RX-8 R3 very
precisely on the road. Better still, it feels extremely well sorted. One caution:
due to the small back window and high tail, care is definitely needed when reversing
into a parking space.
The RX-8 R3's engine note is generally smooth but it can become harsh at higher
revs, and the big wheel/tyre combination also generates a modest amount of rumbles.
But keen drivers will find it a pleasant addiction to hear that unique engine
spinning away while the car eagerly responds to the gentlest of steering and
braking inputs. All-in-all Mazda's latest RX-8 gives so much, so well and from
so little that you can understand why it doesn't need anything else.
Mazda RX-8 R3 | £24,995
Maximum speed: 146mph | 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Overall MPG: 25mpg | Power: 228bhp | Torque: 155lb ft
CO2 299g/km | VED Band G £400 | Insurance group 16