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2009 Mazda RX-8 R3 Review


Weekend Escapist

A three-quarter front view of a red 2009 Mazda RX-8 R3 in Los Angeles

In short: A unique and fun-to-drive sports coupe.

rapped in taut, aggressive lines and decked with a rear wing spoiler, Mazda’s RX-8 R3 is unmistakably a sports car. The R3 trim, one above the Grand Touring, is new to the RX-8’s lineup in 2009, but retains the coupe’s distinctive features, such as four freestyle doors with the back doors on rear hinges, allowing passengers easy access in getting in or out of the vehicle. Under the hood, this subcompact shows off a distinctive, lightweight 232-horsepower rotary engine, which the Japan-based automaker claims makes the RX-8 the only mass-produced rotary-powered passenger car in the world.

Our tester came with a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and dynamic stability control, features that provided an entertaining, smooth ride with responsive handling. Inside the automobile is a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio and cruise controls, and front Recaro sport seats (with leather side bolsters) and roomy rear bucket seats. Standard to the car is an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink; Bluetooth hands-free phone capability; and a 300-watt Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer, MP3 capability, an auxiliary audio input jack and nine speakers.

Read a review of the 2004 Mazda RX-8

Warranty/Service: Three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; three-year/36,000-mile 24/7 roadside assistance program.

Base Price: $31,930 / As tested: $32,580

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel drive; 4-passenger, 4-door coupe

Engine: 1.3-liter 2-rotor RENESIS rotary
Horsepower: 232 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Torque: 159 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual overdrive with short throw shifter

Curb weight:
3,064 lbs
Wheelbase: 106.4 in
Length/Width/Height: 175.6/69.7/52.8 in
Turning circle: 34.8 ft

all-wheel power-assisted ventilated disc brakes with ABS and EBD
Suspension: independent double-wishbone in front; independent multi-link in rear; stabilizer bars in front and rear; Bilstein shock absorbers
Traction: dynamic stability control with traction control

0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
Top Speed: 141 mph

EPA City:
16 mpg
EPA Highway: 22 mpg

Smog Index:

dual front airbags; side airbags and side air curtains; tire pressure monitoring system

fun to drive; handling; value

gas mileage; somewhat temperamental gearbox



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Photography: AlphaMedia

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