2nd Hand Spotlight: Mazda RX-8
We do love a good Wankel here at TorquingPoint (stop sniggering at the back). Editor Tim used to have a gorgeous RX-7 and fell in love with the smoothness and lightweight, free revving nature of the engine. But the rotary engine has gained a slightly tarnished reputation over the years as being unreliable and temperamental, which was the case in the older cars, and puts buyers off.
This would be a real shame if people did dismiss the rotary engine, as they would be potentially missing out on one of the biggest performance car bargains of the century – the Mazda RX-8. There were two power options when it was new – 192 bhp and 231 bhp from the 1.3 litre Wankel engine. Sure it’s a little low of torque, but this is an engine that loves to be revved and the 231 bhp model has a decent turn of pace. 62 mph comes up in 6.4 seconds on the way to a 146 mph top speed – certainly not to be sniffed at.
But the engine is only part of the equation with the RX-8, you also get stunning looks and surprising practicality. There is a real sportiness to the styling, especially at the front with the bulging front wings and low nose. But then the RX-8 shows its real trump card – open the front doors and you can flip a catch and open a smaller set of rear suicide doors as well, giving access to a really usable set of rear seats.
What surprises most is how much they are now worth. We’ve found this beautiful red 2004 RX-8 231 with just 34,000 miles – barely run in – for an amazingly cheap £2995. That’s absolute pocket change for such a good looking and practical sports coupe. You also get 18” alloy wheels, a striking black and red leather interior and a whole host of other toys.
We really can’t think of a coupe that covers all the bases like the RX-8. Okay so you need to be a little more careful with the start-up and cool-down procedures for the engine if you want to prolong the rotor tips and it uses a fair bit of oil (half a litre per 1000 miles), plus the economy isn’t great, but for the bargain purchase price you can afford to have something a bit more thirsty and shell out for Mazda main dealer servicing to make sure everything stays working 100% as it should.
Images courtesy of Auto Trader