2005 RX-8 New Car Test Drive
The ingenious Mazda RX-8 is a true four-seat sports car and its small but powerful rotary engine makes this possible. The RX-8 drives like a sports car, with perfect 50-50 weight distribution for balanced handling and a high-revving engine. It reminds us of the brilliant third-generation RX-7 and it's $13,000 cheaper.
The RX-8 is a true sports car that can pull double duty. It's perfectly capable of taking the kids to soccer practice, with ample passenger room for four full-size adults. There's enough room for a weekend's worth of luggage or two full-size golf bags, and the small rear doors and hatchback design make trips to the home improvement center possible. The muscular styling has a Zoom-Zoom edge.
RX-8 was launched as an all-new model for 2004 so the 2005 Mazda RX-8 carries over with minimal changes. Among them: a new exterior paint color and a Sirius Satellite Radio option.
RX-8 comes in two variants: the MT ($26,875) with a six-speed manual and the AT ($25,375) with a four-speed automatic transmission. They are two different cars due to the nature of the high-revving rotary engine.
The six-speed manual benefits from 238 horsepower at 8500 rpm and 159 pound-feet of torque at 5500 rpm, while the automatic produces considerably less: 197 horsepower at 7200 rpm and 164 pound-feet at 5000 rpm. The AT also has smaller wheels and brakes and a softer suspension. The transmission is sequential, with steering-wheel mounted thumb controls. The bottom line is that the manual is for driving enthusiasts. The automatic is for owners more interested in the looks and feel of a sports car than in ultimate performance.
Safety features: The full complement of airbags includes forward and side thorax airbags for the front passengers, and curtain airbags front and rear.
Optional packages: The MT Sports Package ($1,300) includes xenon headlights, DSC w/Traction Control, Bose audio, auto day/night mirror w/Homelink, moonroof and fog lamps. Grand Touring ($4,250) includes all that plus leather trimmed upholstery, faux leather door trim, six-way power driver's seat, heated seats, lumbar support, fog lamps & heated mirrors. Additional options include a six-disc CD changer ($500), an appearance package ($970) consisting of front air dam and side and rear aero flares, and a rear spoiler ($355).