Used Mazda RX-8 Coupe 2003 - 2011 review

Category: Coupé

A brilliantly designed, fine-handling and well-built sports car at an affordable price

Mazda RX-8 Coupe (03 - 11)
  • Mazda RX-8 Coupe (03 - 11)
  • Mazda RX-8 Coupe (03 - 11)
Used Mazda RX-8 Coupe 2003 - 2011 review
Star rating

What's the used Mazda RX-8 coupe like?

Sports cars this talented just don't come this cheap. Or at least, they didn't until the Mazda RX-8 came along. It's a bargain as a new car, and if you plump for a used example, it's even more of a steal.

What sets the RX-8 apart from other coupes is its practicality. The wonderfully inventive design gives it four doors and four seats, the rearmost of which will carry adults in comfort. Not many four-seat coupes can say the same. There's even a decent sized boot.


A brilliantly designed, fine-handling and well-built sports car at an affordable price

  • The most practical coupe, and fantastic to drive
  • The rotary engine guzzles oil and petrol

It's the drive that really impresses, however. Both versions give exhilarating performance, and the engines make a great noise.

The handling is terrific, with seemingly endless grip and wonderfully direct steering. The ride is a touch firm at low speeds, but not offensively so, and it becomes impressively comfortable at high speeds.

There's plenty of equipment on both versions, build quality is excellent and you can look forward to cast-iron reliability.

Ownership cost

What used Mazda RX-8 coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mazda RX-8 coupe?

Considering the amount of car you'll get for your money, there's not a lot in the coupe market that can touch it.

It's still not a car that everyone will be able to afford, however. The RX-8 cost well over £20,000 when new, and strong residual values, and the fact that the car has only been on sale since 2003, means that even the oldest used examples will still cost a lot.

Running costs can be crippling, too. While rotary engines are immensely powerful, they're also very thirsty. The 228bhp version returns just 25.2mpg, and the 189bhp car doesn't do much better with 26.7mpg. And, that's on paper - start to use anything like full power on a regular basis or spend a lot of time in town, and you'll see that drop to nearer 20 in the real world.

Insurance bills won't be cheap, either. The 189bhp car has a group 15 rating, while the 228bhp version is in group 16. Servicing isn't exactly cheap, but compare your maintenance costs to those of the Audi TT or Alfa GT, and you'll be quids in.

Our recommendations

Which used Mazda RX-8 coupe should I buy?

All RX-8s use a 1.3-litre rotary engine, which uses spinning rotors rather than cylinders to generate its power. This allows a higher rev limit, so you can squeeze more out of each gear. Mazda is the only manufacturer to use such an engine, but they've been at it for years and really know what they're doing.

You can have either a 228bhp version, or a slightly de-tuned version that delivers a still-healthy 189bhp. Both are very quick, but the 228bhp gives that bit of extra performance that makes you feel like you're in something really special. That makes it our favourite, but whichever version you choose, you won't be disappointed.

There's just one trim level for both versions, but lots of kit is provided. All cars have alloy wheels, climate control, electric windows, a nine-speaker Bose sound system with CD multichanger, electrically adjustable seats and stability and traction controls.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda RX-8 coupe?