I bought my Touring RX-8 new from the dealership in Burlington, Vermont. As of now it has 35000 miles. I bought it because of how well it test-drove. I like my car to dance. This one certainly does. The 350Z drove like a tank compared to this.
Braking is excellent, acceleration is snappy, top-speed is far higher than anything any road in Vermont can handle, and the cornering is incredible! It sticks to the road like glue.
I drive my RX-8 to and from work on a daily basis. So it gets both city and highway driving regularly. However, I tend not to drive it as much in the winter, simply because it is flat-out dangerous for an average driver on any kind of slippery (ie. ice/snow) surface. Putting a set of performance all-season radials on it did wonders for slippery surface control.
From day 1, I noticed that the transmission is a bit noisy. But, perhaps that is only because the engine is so quiet that I even notice it. Tranny makes more noise than engine. When shifting, RPM matching is critical. Tranny is not very forgiving in that department. Miss it by more than a few hundred and whole car will lurch. But that is more of a driver issue.
Engine flooding isn't really a problem for me. Just let it run for a few minutes like Mazda says. If you are starting and stopping it too soon, knowing that it will flood, that is your fault. Even then, just follow the corrective actions and you will be fine.
Biggest issue came when the block decided to crack. It happened during a particularly cold winter day. Perhaps the rapid temperature change from -20F to +150F and back did it in. Vermont winters are known to be rough on cars. Coolant starting flooding one of the rotor chambers. Got to be almost impossible to start. But once it warmed up, was fine. Mazda replaced under warranty.
Other minor issue was the back light assemblies literally flooding with water. I solved this problem by drilling a small (1/16") hole at a low point in each assembly. No more water in the lights.
Mileage is as advertised.
Rotary engine burns oil by design, but not much. Feel free to carry a quart of 5w-20 in the trunk. If the oil light comes on, check your oil level more frequently.
From the very beginning, the brakes have had a slight squeal at light braking pressures. It's not terrible. But it is noticeable. The rust is simple surface corrosion of the brake dust on the rotors. While not pretty to look at, it is irrelevant. It comes right off as soon as you brake.
Note to all: if you use less than 90 octane gasoline, the engine light will come on after a couple tanks. Reverting back to 90+ will stop the light from coming on after couple more tanks. It performs better with the higher octane gas anyway. Don't be cheap. You spent the 30+ thousand bucks on a performance car. Put the good stuff in it.
My biggest complaint has been the expense of new tires. The Bridgestones that come on it from the factory are WAY overpriced. I put Goodyear Eagle GT all-season radials on once the Bridgestones wore out. They cost about $150/ea rather than nearly 300.
My recommendation to Mazda is to beef-up the engine's internal strength. Perhaps they cut some corners in an effort to get the weight distribution right. I'd rather it be a little less than perfect if it will make the engine more reliable. I would also like to see the RPM matching issue go away, or at least be a little less demanding. The rear light assemblies need drain holes.
My recommendation to potential buyers: you are looking at a performance vehicle for a very reasonable price. Like any performance car, the cost of ownership is going to be higher than the average vehicle. Don't be afraid to exercise it. But don't beat on it. Keep up-to-date on the scheduled maintenance.