And the award for ‘Most Gut-Wrenching Depreciation Suffered By An Early 2000s Sports Car’ goes to… the Mazda RX-8! Speech! Speech! Speeeeeech!
Oh, he’s gone to the bar for a top-up. The crazy bastard drinks like he’s at Shane McGowan’s wake.
Alcoholism aside (and partly thanks to the drink habit), the RX-8 thoroughly deserves its depreciation award. Because while £5,000 Honda S2000s and £6,000 Nissan 350Zs are wallet-twitchingly tempting, the Mazda RX-8’s value has dropped quicker than a D-lister’s knickers. You can now buy an RX-8 for LESS THAN £3,000. Why on earth wouldn’t you?
Well, inevitably, we’re back at fuel consumption. The RX-8’s fizzy Wankel engine might rev to the moon and give you the other-worldly thrill of not having pistons, but even driving sensibly on a middle-lane motorway run, you won’t break 30mpg – around town, you won’t even do 20. Even in Mazda’s own pictures, the RX-8 is barely a quarter full…
Its reputation for oil use is similarly deserved, although perhaps not as petrifying. As the oily bits of the engine aren’t separated from the exploding bits by piston rings or such rubber-sealy goodness, the oil gets burnt. It was all part of Mr Wankel’s design – and other than being annoying, is nothing to worry about. Check the level every-other time you fill up (so, quite often), and expect consumption of no more than 1 litre per 1,500 miles.
Anything else to be aware of? Well, yes. Mr Wankel’s rotary engine doesn’t like cold starts – the RX-8’s instruction manual even tells you to not switch off the engine unless it’s had time to reach temperature. While you’re all intelligent enough to follow this advice, previous owners may not have been – so cars with incredibly low mileage that never reached temperature aren’t necessarily good news. Make sure you ask the owner if they do lots of short trips.
At the other end of the spectrum, make sure the car starts when it’s warm – if it struggles, the problem could be anything from coil packs to spark plugs to a dodgy starter motor or low compression. Hot starting problem = not a good one.
But other than avoiding short journeys, tolerating the fuel consumption, checking the oil and making sure it starts when hot, the RX-8 handles and thrusts well enough to be a pleasure to own. If you can ignore the handbrake, which always looks like it needs adjusting and gets in the way when changing gear. Bloody RHD conversions.
Now you know the basics, you can choose between the 192 and 231bhp versions – and it’s not as simple as just going for the gruntier one. The 192bhp version actually has a smidge more torque (162lb ft versus 156) and a 5-speed gearbox to the pokier version’s 6-speed, giving it a slightly longer legged gait. It’s best to ignore the power and just buy on condition, history and the geeky enthusiasm of the owner.
So. The RX-8 does demand more of you than a barrel chested 350Z or ballet loving S2000, but handles just as well and costs over £2,000 less. It’s got to be the sportscar bargain of the year – and just think how many Nectar points you’ll get from your local BP.