ROTARY ROLLERCOASTER RIDE
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Sep 13, 2006
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
ROTARY ROLLERCOASTER RIDE
The ultra-cool Mazda RX-8 caught the eye of the American public when it made its theatrical debut in the blockbuster movie X2 : X-Men United. In the movie, the RX-8 was the car of X-man Cyclops, and was then borrowed (without permission) buy the attitude - aggressive Wolverine. The RX-8 became the star vehicle of the movie, and a vehicle predator in its own right and in the mainstream of American sport cars culture.
Being the world's only rotary - engine four -passenger sports car, I'm excited to sink my teeth into the RX-8 and put it thru her paces. The first thing I notice is its street predator styling. With aggressive curves and low profile, the RX-8 looks like it belongs riding on a rollercoaster. The sleek lines glide over the 18-inch high performance tires and rear "suicide" doors.
Getting into the RX-8 was easy enough for somebody short like me . For a larger person, it might be an issue. And with no middle (B) pillars, getting into the rear seats seemed easier than any other sports car. The car is equipped with four-bucket seats.
Inside the RX-8 , everything you need is at hands reach. " Compact " might be a more fitting word . I d on 't have to extend my reach to get anything. This car fits like a glove for the vertical ly challenged person. The instrument cluster and radio is set-up for ease - of - use and is intuitive to the driver. The full-length front - to - back center console , and sporty look of the leather seats with two-tone racing stripe inserts , caps off the interior.
When one start s up the RX-8, one hear s the roar of a rotary engine - a very distinctive sound over standard engines. This RX-8 is armed with a 1.3-liter RENESIS (Rotary Engine genesis - or rebirth of the rotary engine) two -rotor engine pumping out 232 h orsepower , with a 10.0:1 compression ratio and a six -speed manual transmission. The RENESIS engine has no cylinders, pistons or valves - just three major moving parts and an extremely broad powerband. It's smaller than standard engines (some 60 percent smaller than a comparably powered V-6, and 40 percent smaller than a four-cylinder). It ' s also lighter in weight , which adds to better performance ( 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds) . This makes it the perfect engine for sports cars . Not only does the smaller engine make more room in the cabin , its lightness and positioning behind the front axl e provides better weight distribution and, hence, better handling. The car is also quick off the line , and the shifting is not only smooth, it's exciting - all the way to its 9000 rpm redline .
Being low to the ground, the car is one of the best handling cars I have driven in a long time. Using a new aluminum double-wishbone front suspension ( reducing unsprung weight over stand ard steel suspension components) , the car is agile and i s able to accomplish some exciting maneuvering.
Driving the RX-8 provides all the thrills of a rollercoaster ride. Test-driving through the steep winding hills of Valencia, C alifornia, the RX-8 is in its element. It handles and glides all the turns and grades while keeping in complete control (okay, you can say " z oom- z oom" now!).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT Excitement personified - and it 's still useable for day-to-day driving.For more on Mazda products, go to www.mazdausa.com .
Games People Play
For those of you who like to play online games, check out the RX-8 Drift Game .
Vehicle: Mazda RX-8
Price as tested: $26,995.
Engine Type: 1.3 -l iter RENESIS two -rotor rotary
Horse Power: 232 @ 8,500 rpm
Gas Mileage: EPA 18 city, 24 highway