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2006 Mazda RX-8 Review
A sports car in a coupe’s body.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2006 Mazda RX-8 sets itself apart from the pack of sport coupes by being the only new production car sold worldwide with a rotary engine. The advantages of a Wankel rotary engine include the ability to produce a higher output of power for its size, a lighter weight, and fewer moving parts than a traditional piston engine. The Mazda RX-8 also has a set of rear-opening rear doors and seats four average-sized adult passengers comfortably, which represent unusual traits for a sport coupe.
Engines: 1.3-liter rotary
Transmissions: six-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Models: RX-8 Automatic, RX-8 Manual
The 2006 Mazda RX-8 is sportier, with new paddle shifts. The six-speed automatic transmission replaces the four-speed transmission and Mazda increases the rotary engine’s maximum output to 200 horsepower for cars that use the automatic transmission.
The Mazda RX-8 comes as a four-seat hardtop with, essentially, four doors. The front has full-size doors, while two smaller rear doors ease access to the rear passenger compartment. The automatic RX-8 comes standard with 16-inch wheels and power windows, locks, and mirrors. The six-speed manual model adds a limited-slip differential, a sport-tuned suspension, and 18-inch wheels and tires.
Mazda offers four option packages. On six-speed models, the Sport package adds xenon headlights, stability and traction control, and fog lights, while automatic-equipped versions also get a limited-slip differential, larger brakes, a retuned suspension, and 18-inch wheels. The Touring package provides a sunroof, Homelink, and auto-dimming mirrors. The Grand Touring package adds all of the above equipment plus heated side mirrors. The Shinka (Japanese for ""Evolution"") package adds both sporty and luxury features via a more aggressively tuned suspension and unique, 18-inch alloys.
The body of the RX-8 looks curvy, and the low hood sports a power bulge with a rotor motif. It has the appearance of a sedan with a sport makeover, but it manages to look fresh and unique. With no center pillar in the way, the rear-opening rear doors allow easy access to back compartment.
Interior standard features for the 2006 Mazda RX-8 include air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote trunk release, power steering, an overhead storage console, a 12V front power outlet, front reading lights, and a six-speaker CD stereo system.
The available Touring Package includes a Bose audio system and the Grand Touring package adds all of the above equipment plus a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated seats, and leather upholstery. The Shinka package includes Alcantara leather seating, Sirius satellite radio, and upgraded interior trim. Other available options include a navigation system and an in-dash, six-disc CD changer.
The trim and the seats use black and the color of the body. The console, transmission tunnel, and gearshift lever sport aluminum accents. The molded bucket seats are lightweight but comfortable, firm, and secure. While the RX-8 can seat four adults, the legroom in the rear seats remains snug, making it uncomfortable for taller passengers.
Performance & Handling
The 2006 Mazda RX-8 has sports car-like performance without the stiff ride that plagues most sports cars. It gives a lively performance and a smooth ride. It is nimble and has good acceleration. The suspension dampens most of the bumps in the road and most of the noise originates from the wheels on the pavement in an otherwise quiet cabin.
It contains a 1.3-liter rotary engine that produces 212 horsepower with the six-speed paddle shift automatic transmission. The six-speed manual transmission model produces 232 horsepower. The RX-8 sprints from zero to 60 mph in seven seconds and the manual transmission model completes the quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds.
All Mazda RX-8 models come equipped with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Traction control and front-seat side airbags come standard on the ES trim, optional on the LS trim, and remain unavailable for the LS-SV trim. This car does not have full-length side curtain airbags or stability control available. In government crash testing, it earns a perfect five out of five stars for front and side-impact collision protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the RX-8 an ?acceptable? rating for frontal-offset side impact protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
RX-8 manual: 16/23 mpg city/highway
- Low starting price
- Comfortable ride
- Seats four adults
- Easy entrance to back seat
- Nimble handling
- Smooth-running engine
You Won't Like
- Poor fuel economy
- Not sporty enough for a sports car
- Tight rear-seat legroom
- Mediocre torque output
- Optional features bundled together in packages
A sports car in a coupe’s body.
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