The sound of the rotary engine is intoxicating too, giving cause to row through the 6-speed manual transmission just to hear the
|The sound of the ultra-smooth 238 horsepower rotary engine is truly intoxicating. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press) |
revs charge up to 9,500 rpm between intervals - although max power comes on at 8,500. At this point it makes 238 ultra-smooth horsepower, propelling the 1,384 kilo (3,051 pound) car forward without hesitation. Still, at 6.8 seconds to 100 km/h it isn't going to win many stoplight challenges. It's quicker than the MazdaSpeed Miata, by a touch, and every other Mazda product, which is a good thing it being the brand's flagship, but there are many similarly priced competitors that are faster off the line. So if sprinting from stoplights isn't what the rotary is all about, what does it do well? It's simply spectacular once the revs are up, ideal for high speed passing. Charging down short straights in between bends is the car's forte too, acting like a slingshot aided by the able suspension.
Just in case you'd prefer an automatic transmission, a 4-speed steering-column mounted paddle-shift unit is available, mated to a
|At the very reasonable price of $36,795, the RX-8 measures at or near the top of its class in just about every category. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)|
reconfigured engine with reduced power and torque. It's a stellar gearbox, and didn't feel a heck of a lot slower than the much more powerful 6-speed version when I tested it last year.
For this review I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about interior quality, which is superb, features, which are many, or any other RX-8 attributes - these were covered in previous reviews dated January 3, 2003, July 28, 2003 and June 8, 2004. What matters most to its many buyers is that it measures at or near the top of its class in just about every category, and does it for the seriously approachable price of $36,795. Pack on the extras, which include the auto transmission at no cost, a power glass sunroof for $1,000, and a new navigation system
for $3,000 (added midway through 2004), and the price tops out at $43,595.