Road test – 2006 Mazdaspeed RX-8

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Since it’s release in 2004, Mazda’s RX-8 has been a media darling. Quirky, unique styling with tons of neat little rotary references have guaranteed that there is no mistaking the RX-8 for any other car on the road. Personally, I’ve never gotten past the oddity of the Saturnesque suicide doors. Reviewers have praised the free revving rotary, and rightfully so. The engine revels in being spun to it’s 9000 rpm rev limiter and has a lovely, though muted howl to go along with those revs. The only weak spot seems to be the lack of torque, which rotary afficionados tend to overlook due to the ability to spin the hell out of the little engine to make ponies.

Enter the Mazdaspeed parts catalogue…

This particular car is a promo mule put together by Mazda Canada to market the Mazdaspeed brand, it has received a healthy dose of Mazdaspeed parts. Visually, the car is sporting a full body kit that includes nice, subtle front, rear and side skirts and a boy racer adjustable rear spoiler.

On the performance side, the car has a cold air intake, exhaust and racing brake pads. Rims and tires were also upgrades and visually looked stunning on the car.

On the road, the package brings the car to life. Start the engine and blip the throttle and there is a throaty sucking sound from the CAI, as the rotary whooping sound howls from the dual, stainless exhaust tips. That muted exhaust note is gone and is replaced by the scream made famous by 2 generations of rotary race cars. It dredges up memories of old Rx-2′s and 3′s and IMSA GTU RX-7′s screaming around Mosport. This thing is loud and the wail is unmistakably rotary. Perhaps the coolest thing is the double backfire from the pipes on fast shifts, up or down. I’d love to see this thing at night, as there has to be a burp of flame out the pipes on rapid shifts. To be honest, I find the stock exhaust note to be a bit of a bore, but the scream & burp of the Mazdaspeed exhaust and intake cannot be underestimated. The cool factor is extreme. It’s hard to tell if the car is actually faster than stock without performing any real tests, but it certainly feels quicker.
Through a twisty bit of on/off ramp, the handling proved to be a bit confusing for this retired rally car driver. With visions of Tom McGeer’s old RX-7 rally car drifting through corners, I tried to get the car loose and it had a strange reaction. While running quickly through a tight uphill left, rather than having the back end come loose, the front end lifted and the car began to understeer abruptly. A quick lift on the throttle planted the front end, which allowed the bck end to gently come around into the corner. Not sure if this was due to an oddly programmed stability control, or suspension dynamics, but it was weird. Then of course the exhaust note took over the senses again. Did I mention the backfires? Flames are cool!

The RX-8 really benefits from the Mazdaspeed mods. Enthusiasts who love to wind the snot out of a car will love an RX-8 with this treatment, just be sure to choose a higher gear when the local constabulary are nearby. This screamer is LOUD.

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Comments

  1. Kyle Provo says

    Hey was just wondering if u feel any diffrence with the intake and the exhaust i was thinking about getting mazda speed exhaust and intake. Still under warranty so i got to watch what I put in the car just hoping maybe this would help!!

  2. says

    The car definately felt faster. Of course feel is always subjective and you’d have to do some real performance testing to know if it really is faster.

    it sounded great.

  3. editblog ... aka Scott says

    That’s a fun post from a current RX-8 owner. I think the performance enhancements would be nice but being elderly 35 I’d pass on the look-at-me spoiler and b-piller treatment. But bring on the power! I’ve seen a couple of rumblings of an official Mazdaspeed 8 coming from the factory in 2007. I sure hope they do that as I really don’t understand why Mazda wouldn’t want that version of their high end sports car. Maybe, just maybe it’ll be a twin turbo.

  4. says

    Kyle Provo – Genuine Mazdaspeed parts (no knockoffs – so purchase from the Dealer) have thier own warranty that is offered by Mazda – so you’re safe there – just be sure to chat with the Parts Dept. to get all the info up front.

  5. says

    Gary – re-reading your review, the RX-8 will allow you to manually turn-off the DSC (stability control) and Traction Control by holding down the ‘DSC’ button (to the left of the steering column) for about 5 sec. – once you do this – you’ll be able to ‘let loose’ and DRIVE the car without any limits. To turn it back on, simply turn the car off, are the system will default to both DSC and Traction Control active once again.

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