An optional 6-speed automatic transmission replaces last year's 4-speed. Horsepower for automatic models increases to 212 (up from 197) and torque drops to 159 lb.-ft. (down from 164). A switch to the new SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) rating method shows manual-transmission horsepower dropping from 238 to 232, though actual engine output is unchanged.
The rotary engine has been a Mazda trademark since the early 1970s. Difficulties with meeting increasingly stringent emissions standards put an end to the rotary's use in Mazda's passenger cars, but its free-revving nature made it a natural sports car engine. The lightweight rear-drive RX-7 made its debut for 1979. A larger, second-generation RX-7 appeared in 1985, followed by the third-generation model in 1993. 1995 was the last year of RX-7 sales in the U.S., though Mazda continued selling the car in other markets. Mazda's U.S. lineup remained rotary-free until 2003, when the RX-8 made its debut as a 2004 model.
What sets the RX-8 apart from the RX-7 (not to mention most other sports cars) is its four-door design. The RX-8 has two small rear-hinged rear doors for easier access to the back seat. Power for the RX-8 comes from a twin-rotor engine called the RENESIS 13B. Another unique attribute of the RX-8 is the engine tuning, which is markedly different for manual and automatic models. Engine output for RX-8s with the 6-speed manual transmission is 232 hp at 8,500 RPM with a 9,000 RPM redline. Automatic RX-8s produce 212 hp at 7,500 RPM with a 7,500 RPM redline. Both versions have a torque peak of 159 lb.-ft. at 5,500 RPM. Manual-transmission models also get a limited-slip differential, sport-tuned suspension, and 18-inch alloy wheels in place of the automatic's 16-inch alloys. Anti-lock brakes, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags are standard on the RX-8.
The RX-8 competes in the Midsize Sporty segment against a variety of cars. Some, including the RX-8, Pontiac GTO, and Chevrolet SSR, are out-and-out performance cars. While others, such as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Toyota Camry Solara, are built for comfortable cruising. Still others, such as the Ford Mustang and Mitsubishi Eclipse, can be ordered to play either role.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Ford Mustang was the segment leader for 2005 with 160,975 sales, followed by the Toyota Solara (56,900 units sold) and Chevrolet Monte Carlo (33,562). The Mazda RX-8 sold 14,872 units in 2005.
|6 Speed Manual (M6)||6 speed manual||$26,435||232-hp / 1.3L 0-cyl||18/24|
|6-Speed Sport Automatic (A6)||6 speed automatic||$26,435||212-hp / 1.3L 0-cyl||18/25|