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2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

4dr Cpe Auto

Starting at | Starting at 18 MPG City - 24 MPG Highway

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  • $25,375 original MSRP
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2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

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2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

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2005 Mazda RX-8

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

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.

Model Lineup

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).

Walkaround

The RX-8 is a car you could walk around again and again and still recognize new things to appreciate (even more so if you lift up the hood and poke around and crawl underneath).

The first thing you notice are the bulges, which if not graceful certainly have a style of their own. It's about the most aggressive shape possible in stamped steel. It's definitely aggressive, in a smallish kind of way. From the double-bubble roof, down the hood and over the bulge that's shaped like one of the engine rotors, to those big wide ears of front fenders, to the headlamps and grille and air intakes that give the RX-8 a face: wide-eyed, startled, big dimples. Head-on, the RX-8 looks like it's getting gently goosed and is saying, "Oh!"

From the rear it looks good, with upswept lines and wide fender flares. From the side you see big sharp wheel arches, plus a long black mesh angled vertical vent behind the front wheel to let hot air out of the engine compartment. The headlights aren't as dramatic as they might be. Mazda says it believes design should be expressed in sheet metal not lighting.

The front and rear doors open in opposite directions, which Mazda calls the Freestyle door system. (In the '20s such doors were called suicide doors, but we've fortunately gotten away from that expression.) This allows very easy ingress and egress for the rear-seat passengers. There is no pillar between the doors, and Mazda has carefully designed the structure with supporting steel crossmembers and braces for rigidity and safety against a side impact. Mazda says its expects to achieve top scores in government and insurance industry crash tests.

Interior Features

Even large adults find the back seat of the RX-8 comfortable. Getting into and out of the back seats is easy. And the seats are comfortable. Rear-seat passengers can't see out front, but they can see out the side windows. Unfortunately, they don't roll down, but just push outward. The console extends back between the rear seats.

The trunk can carry two sets of golf clubs. We were able to fit a desk chair and storage crate back there. A vertical compartment opens to the trunk to allow the carrying of skis and such.

For the driver, the instrument panel seems to sacrifice efficiency for style. There are three big rings, dominated by the 10,000-rpm tachometer in the center, with only a digital speedometer located at about 9:00 on the tach face. The two large outside rings only include gauges for water temp, fuel and oil pressure. We miss having a separate speedometer. The instruments are illuminated with indirect blue lighting.

The RX-8 has great seats, a nice fit with good bolstering, though the cloth seat material wasn't as attractive to our eyes as it might have been. We like the stitched leather three-spoke steering wheel, both for its style and feel. Another great thing was the drilled aluminum pedals, including a very secure dead pedal. The brake pedal is designed to make rotation of your right foot easier, for heel-and-toe downshifting, and it also releases upon impact, to lessen leg injuries in the case of a head-on crash. Each knee is comfortably and firmly supported during hard cornering.

The panel forward of the gearshift lever is trimmed in a combination of leather and high-quality vinyl and glossy black plastic. The stereo and climate control knobs are integrated; redundant controls are on the steering wheel spokes. The air conditioning wasn't as effective as we expected it to be.

The doors and seatbacks have ample pockets and cranny space, and four CDs can fit in the console, but there aren't a lot of cubbies up front. The soft triangular shape of the engine rotors are found throughout the interior, most noticeably and stylishly in the headrests.

Driving Impressions

The RX-8 has great balance and precise turn-in. The suspension is soft enough for daily comfortable use and not as stiff as say, the Nissan 350Z, which corners like a race car but pays the price with a stiffer ride.

The electronic stability control (Mazda calls theirs DSC, or Dynamic Stability Control) works well. The RX-8 wasn't completely forgiving when driven hard on an autocross circuit. With too much throttle it would understeer, or plow the front tires, although it should be noted that most cars would have been hopeless under the same abuse. At first we were surprised that the DSC didn't intervene and correct this, so we repeated the experiment until we felt the DSC kick in. What we learned is that the DSC is programmed to tolerate small errors but saves you from the big ones. In other words, it will let you get away with two feet of understeer in a curve, but not six feet.

And when it does take over, it does it with brakes, by braking one or more wheels needed to correct the imbalance. Some cars do it by cutting the throttle, which skilled drivers find intrusive. The RX-8 will eventually cut the throttle too, but not so early that it frustrates you.

When we switched the DSC off, we discovered two things that together seem paradoxical: how good the DSC is (because we could barely feel it when it was on), and how superb the balance of the RX-8 is, because we could feel it in its natural state.

A brief word about that 50-50 balance, and where it comes from. The rotary engine, which is extremely smooth and simple (lacking pistons, valves, crankshafts, camshafts, etc.) has been developed by Mazda for 40 years now. The RX-8 features the latest and by far the best rotary engine design, which Mazda calls Renesis. The engine is about 30 percent smaller than an inline four-cylinder as found in economy cars. Its compact dimensions allow it to be mounted in a low and rearward position that results in that perfect balance. It also keeps the center of gravity low and the curb weight down to a stunning 2940 pounds.

Out on the open road the RX-8 feels even better. It hugs the road progressively, meaning the deeper it gets into a turn the harder it grips, which is wonderfully confidence inspiring.

The engine offers a sweet unique sound under acceleration and is very refined now, with little of the rotary rasp that early RX-7s were known for. The exhaust note is almost hypnotic on a rhythmic road. It revs extremely quickly, although its significant weak point is mid-range grunt. Downshifts for quick acceleration are definitely necessary. Acceleration performance from 0 to 60 mph is less than 6 seconds, according to Car and Driver magazine, making the RX-8 nearly but not quite as quick as a Nissan 350 Z.

Downshifting is redefined by the rotary engine, especially when paired with the brilliant close-ratio six-speed gearbox. You can drop the RX-8 into second gear at a speed that would cause almost every other car on the planet to scream, if not explode.

When the automatic is equipped with the sport suspension and 18-inch wheels (standard on the manual RX-8), the brake rotors measure a massive 12.7 inches in front and 11.9 inches in rear, with increased ventilation ribs for more resistance to fade. The fact that the RX-8 is a featherweight, thanks not only to the rotary engine but also to thoughtful design with aluminum in the hood and rear doors, reduces the stopping distance to an impressive number, comparable to a Nissan 350 Z.

Summary

The RX-8 is a unique sports car. Its four-seat, four-door configuration is an original design that works. The rotary engine is super smooth, simple, high-revving and almost indestructible. It's complemented by a beautiful six-speed gearbox and great brakes. It's a great car with an innovative approach and admirable engineering.

New Car Test Drive correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from Irvine, California. With Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$25,375
Model lineup:
Mazda RX-8 AT ($25,375); MT ($26,875)
Engines:
1.3-liter twin-rotor rotary 197 hp (AT); 238 hp (MT)
Transmissions:
four-speed sequential automatic with steering-wheel paddles; six-speed close-ratio manual
Safety equipment (Standard):
ABS; front, side and side-curtain airbags; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability control and traction control; seatbelt pretensioners
Safety equipment (Optional):
none
Basic warranty:
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:
Hiroshima, Japan
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Mazda RX-8 MT ($26,875)
Standard equipment:
in-dash 6-disc CD, keyless entry, power windows, mirrors and door locks
Options as tested:
Sports Package ($1,300) includes xenon headlights, DSC with traction control, fog lamps; in-dash 6-disc CD ($500); Rotary Accent Package ($139)
Destination charge:
545
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$29,359
Layout:
rear-wheel drive
Engine:
1.3-liter rotary
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
238 @ 8500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
159 @ 5500
Transmission:
six-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
18/24 mpg.
Wheelbase:
106.3 in.
Length/width/height:
174.2/69.7/52.8 in.
Track, f/r:
59.1/59.3 in.
Turning circle:
34.8 ft.
Seating capacity:
4
Head/hip/leg room, f:
35.8/NA/43.0 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:
35.5/NA/23.0 in.
Cargo volume:
7.6 cu. ft.
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
N/A
Suspension F:
A-arms, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Suspension R:
multi-link, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Ground clearance:
5.3 in.
Curb weight:
3029 lbs.
Tires:
225/45R18 Bridgestone Potenza
Brakes, f/r:
disc/disc with ABS and EBD in.
Fuel capacity:
15.8 gal.

Printable Version

2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Opt
Fog Lamps Opt
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance 4 Years/50,000 Miles

Mazda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Each Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle comes with a 12-Month / 12,000 Mile Vehicle Limited Warranty with no deductible on covered components, which begins when the factory warranty ends. If it's out of warranty, the 12-month/12,000 miles warranty begins on the certified retail date.

Coverage begins on the limited powertrain warranty from the original retail sales date and covers 7-Years /100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2008-2014 model years and less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150-Point Detailed Inspection

Autocheck® Vehicle History Report with 3-year buyback protection from Experian, subject to all Experian & Experian Automotive buyback terms and conditions.

Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 24hr Roadside Assistance for the life of the Powertrain Limited Warranty offers confidence on the road around the clock.
Special Financing Yes, see your Mazda dealer for details.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2005 Mazda RX-8 Coupe

Data on this page may have come in part, or entirely, from one or more of the following providers.

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