Nice pairing here; the book ends of Mazda’s long-running rotary RX sports car series, and both in black too. Will there ever be another?
I’ll take the one in front, please.
My brother-in-law regrets selling his early model RX-7!!!!
Mazda should have made an RX-5 Miata when they had the chance. Mass hysteria about the sky falling has eliminated the option of building such a car for the middle class public now.
And that same panic button nonsense threatens a lot of other cool cars we have now. Sad.
It’s striking how much larger the RX-8 appears, in part due to the wheels.
Looks like the RX-7 has a flat right-rear tire.
I was just watching a video on rotary engines on “Engineering Explained” on YouTube, and it’s really no wonder the rotary went away. It’s certainly an interesting idea, but in an age where emissions and fuel mileage matter, there’s almost no way to make one of these work all that well (comparatively). I think smoothness and “revability” are their only advantages.
It’s similar to how Jay Leno describes the turbine engine in his Turbine Car; a new technology has to be better than the old one for it to catch on, and for all its faults, the reciprocating internal combustion engine is still the best choice (for now).
Those were my thoughts as well; it’s a great idea which has had a hard time overcoming its limitations. I do commend Mazda for trying.
There seems more hope for the Wankel in the light aircraft field (N.B., when searching, beware of the term “rotary,” as it was another type which used to power WW1-era aircraft).
http://www.rotaryeng.net (actually Wankel!)
Their main advantages were size and weight for a given output. They were also simpler with fewer parts.
Problem is, those facts impress only gearheads; the main thing the average car buyer might notice is smoothness, which has improved enough in recip. engines since then to make it a marginal selling point. And then there’s fuel consumption, which rivals small-block V8s & damaged Mazda’s RX sedan sales in the Oil Crisis era.
Even now, the RX-8’s EPA combined figure of 18mpg is a little less than that of a Chevy Silverado!
Yeah that’s kind of the problem. Gearheads may have appreciated the compact performance but they also feared the poor durability, while typical consumers couldn’t understand why it got such poor mileage.
It was a neat idea but never really well suited to cars.
I’ve always thought the RX8 was attractive and loved that the backseat seemed to be usable unlike many coupes, however I’m reminded of what Car and Driver said while testing one for their “best handling car in America” – “This is a great chassis searching for an engine.”
That crew cab coupe thing sure didn’t set the world afire did it? I thought the RX8 was the worst successor to a legendary car in the history of cars when it came out, now that I’ve matured a bit since it’s release I now realize it’s only the third or fourth.
I love the quad coupe concept. I was hoping that this meld of coupe styling with better rear seat access would finally kill off frumpy sedans for good. But some stupid regulations about having child seats mandated til a person is like 17 years old and how they can only exit curbside is what took this off the table.
I had concerns about body flex with this design but apparently the RX-8 is supposed to be very rigid yet light. Mazdas own engineers built the chassis to handle a LOT more power but that never came to fruition.
There are regulations about which side it’s legal for a child to exit on? Really??
Dont quote me on it, but I remember reading somethign to that effect. My brother in law (who has an extended cab p/u with clamshell doors) was even griping about the same, since he occasionally takes my nieces to school instead of my sister. It may have been a state law, and if you think about it, there IS a hint of merit to it, since exiting on the drivers side does put you in the path of some idiot barelling thru a school zone. That said…common sense and responsible parenting falls on the individual, not lawmakers.
The ’57 Travelall, ’67 Suburban, and ’97 F-150 had a third door on the curbside because that’s just easier for picking up passengers. Any “regulations” are probably just windmills made up by the anti-reg crowd.
I haven’t heard about any regulations over which side children must exit on, but perhaps that explains why the rental Yukon I had only had LATCH anchors for the middle and curbside seats. The back seat of my 2007 Megacab has LATCH anchors for all 3 seating positions though.
I also thought that the clamshell doors were a neat idea, but the only non-pickup trucks I know of that got them were Saturns, the RX8 and the Honda Element.
Clamshell doors are a PITA if you actually haul people, since you have to open the front doors first and you have to swing them both pretty wide open to have space to get through.
It depends on the point of reference. If you are comparing clam shells to the ingress and egress of a Toyota Camry, it is probably easier to get in the back seat of a Camry. But then you are getting in the back seat of a Camry. If you compare the clam shell doors to using the back seat in a Mustang/Camaro/Challenger/name the sports car, then the ease of ingress/egress from an RX-8 with the freestyle doors is brilliant and useable on a daily basis. In fact, the front seat passenger/driver does NOT need to get out of the seat in order to let the rear passenger out from the same side.
“I thought the RX8 was the worst successor to a legendary car…..”
I guess that’s why they gave it a different number. Was it ever supposed to be an RX7 successor? I always thought of it as a different model.
Makes the RX-7 look like a toy. Has there ever been an engineering design that had more hype and less market success? Good grief, every single car mag of the 70s was breathlessly in love with the rotary engine and scarcely an issue would go by without some mention about how the design was coming to this car or that car. Nobody ever built one but Mazda and, what, NSU? Done in by too many technical problems and not enough to offer.
Well put. Its time for Mazda to pull the plug on the ‘chookcooker’ (derogatory Aussie slang for the rotary engine). It nearly bankrupted them how many times?
The cars they could have built if they weren’t pouring money into the bottomless pit called the Wankel engine…………..
Plug was pulled in 2012.
I didn’t think Wankels were common enough to inspire a slang term anywhere!
Recall that AMC’s Pacer was designed with a rotary in mind. Pretty foolish, designing a car around a novel, unproven technology, esp. one from competitor GM. And the Vega should’ve been sufficient warning about GM’s competence in developing even moderately innovative engines.
By contrast, Mazda didn’t design the Grand Familia/RX-3 around their rotary, as they also had a 4-cyl version.
I like both, but the RX-8 makes that FB look *tiny*!
Make mine an FD, please. One of the most beautiful automotive designs of the 90’s, full stop, plus a brilliant performer.
Agree on the FD.
+2 FD was one of my favorite sports car designs ever
The angle makes the 7 look absolutely toy-like. Here is a similar comparison from a different angle.
And the angle of your shot makes the RX-7 look much bigger in comparison than it should. It’s even more skewed than mine. 🙂
What we need is a shot of them both bumper to bumper, at the curb, from the side.
If I still had the RX-7 I would take a pic, but alas, sometimes cc’s become COLA’s.
Exterior dimensions are surprisingly similar.
1983 RX-7: Length 170.1 in., Width 65.7 in., Height 49.6 in., Wheelbase 95.3 in.
2005 RX-8: Length 174.3 in., Width 69.7 in., Height 52.8 in., Wheelbase 106.4 in.
The wheelbase is the largest difference in the standard items of measure. The other significant difference is the lenght of the roof and the lateness of the taper to the roof and rear window on the RX-8 for the purpose of accommodating a rear seat area. When the RX-8 was introduced Road and Track published an special issue regarding the engine, design, and all aspects of the 8. The only way for the project to be green-lighted by Ford, which held a controlling stake in Mazda at the time, was to make the car a 4 seater. The designers were insistent on retaining sports car profiles, size and overall aesthetics, which had a major impact on all elements of the overall design, including the use of clam-shell doors.
Here is another angle.
From another angle.
I never understood the RX8; it came to exist when Mazda seemingly lacked a lot in resources; it had natural aspiration right before DI/forced induction became the accepted path to performance, so there was nothing to compensate for the low mpg/high oil consumption/high heat; and it had four doors which made its styling seem quite compromised. I get the idea when you’re talking about a car like a Saturn Ion or Veloster–sporty in appearance while making accommodations for buddies–but a car like the RX-8 is meant to be a little more special and exclusive (that’s my take on it, anyway), and if access for rear passengers mattered, this sort of design wouldn’t cut it.
I like the idea of keeping the rotary engine alive and it sounds as if Mazda is interested in going forward with another iteration, but the RX8 had strange priorities and was oddly un-compelling (I don’t think that’s a real word). They aren’t without their charm, though, and they’re near the bottom of their depreciation curve. If you lack the same reservations I have, it’s a great time to buy one.
I would offer that the RX-8 is better understood by recognizing that the FD RX-7, only offered in the US through 1995, continued in production in Japan through 2002. The RX-8 began production in 2003 as a 2004 model. Consequently, there is less break in the rotary vehicle bloodline than we might notice in the US. The FD RX-7 with its twin turbo engine had become horribly expensive to buy and own, thus jumping the shark from the concept of the original RX-7, a simple, lightweight roadster without the convertible top given that in 1978/79 convertibles were becoming extinct.
In that background, and recognizing that Ford now had a controlling interest in Mazda when decisions were being made for a successor to the FD, two things were made clear to the roatary believers in Hiroshima: Any rotary successor would have four seats, and any rotary successor would be more simple/less expensive. In other words, twin turbo extravagence would be dead.
As the owner of two RX-8’s, I can offer that the engineering packaging regarding the rear seat and rear doors is brilliant. The rear seat of the Mustang and Camaro is non-existent for actual human occupation. The rear seat of the RX-8 absolutely accommodates two adults. Ingress and egress is not a problem. Once in the seat, there is plenty of room. Do you want to sit back there for four hours? Probably not. Is a half hour or hour ride a problem? Not for a reasonably sized adult.
The only drawback to the RX-8, in my opinion, is gas consumption. I average 19 mpg in mixed highway/city driving. Oil usage? 4 1/2 quarts for an oil change. Add another quart around 1,500 to 1,750 miles. A total of 5 1/2 quarts per oil change. That is not exactly a burden.
RX8 grew with its core demographic’s entry into familydom. Or that’s what it was supposed to do, I suppose. IIRC the release of these caused an upward blip on the FD’s values amongst the hardcore.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2021 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.