Not a bad car, but drive it before you decide it's wonderful
Easy to flood engine. Not a reliability issue in the classical sense, but everyone knows that the Gremlins will make it pull a stunt like this the day you're running late.
First off, the dealer flooded the engine bringing the car round for me to test.
The engine needed some time before attempting to restart. The interior felt average. It seemed well put together, but the materials had a cheap and nasty feel and look. The seat leather felt particularly poor.
Driving the car I was alarmed at how absent the torque was - I arrived at the dealer in my Ford Cougar V6. On paper the RX-8 is faster than the Cougar, but it certainly felt like an laborious effort. Above 5000rpm the Wankel engine begins to deliver some torque. This car would be great fun on a track day I reckon.
The Wankel engine also drinks fuel compared to my V6 - I returned approx 23mpg on my 3hr test drive compared to 31mpg for the Cougar. The Cougar feels faster and sounds better obviously (The Wankel sounds like an irritating dimented bee) although the RX-8 would easily out corner the Cougar. That said the Cougar doesn't get left behind on the twisties as it catches up immediately out of the bend unless the RX-8 is driven everywhere in 2nd or 3rd gear. The Cougar driver can also switch off the traction control to aid aggressive and snow driving whereas - as far as I could tell - the RX-8 was stuck with it.
In traffic I found the RX-8 a real chore due to having to work the gears to make up for the lack of torque - the Cougar pulls away without laboring at 18-20mph in 5th!
The doors on the RX-8 make the car more practical for users carrying more than one passenger frequently, but this practicality is offset by the very small boot space compared to the Cougar and 406 Coupe. In my personal opinion the 4 door arrangement on the RX-8 also destroys the side profile of the car - I hate the randomly shaped rear quarter windows and truncated front doors. Perhaps I'm being harsh, but the RX-8 seems to suffer an identity crisis between a Coupe and a saloon. A true two door would be a real looker.
Also, the car uses oil on a basis normally associated with 20yr old bangers. Enthusiasts may not mind this, but it's certainly an annoyance to someone such as myself.
Although this report seems very negative, I would like to point out that far from disliking this car, I was very disappointed in it after all the hype. The novelty of the Wankel engine wore off within minutes for me - I missed the ability to overtake or negotiate roundabouts in top gear, not drop 2-3 gears to even consider speeding up. The interior disappointed me and I was disappointed that the traction control appeared permanant (at least I never found the switch). The car is fast on paper, but feels slow, and will cost a fortune to run due to it's oil addiction and the fuel pumps located in each tail pipe.
I would encourage a potential buyer to consider seriously before succumbing to motor press hype and fashion trends.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th January, 2005