News

Mazda RX-8: The family man’s sports car

Having kids changes a guy’s life. If you’re a car guy, it likely means that your days of driving a two-seater are more or less behind you — or at the very least dependent upon whether you can find a babysitter, how often you want to abandon your family in favor of a back-road blast, and/or if you can wait until one of your kids is old enough to ride shotgun.

On the wings of its venerable Miata, Mazda has sold more two-seat roadsters (900,000 plus since 1989) than any other carmaker. Now that I have two young daughters, though, the four-seat Mazda RX-8 appeals to me in a way I hadn’t previously considered.

I’ve had a mild man-crush on the Mazda RX-8 since my neighbor bought a new red one back in 2003, and my affection for the car only grew stronger when I first drove Automobile Magazine’s Four Seasons finicky example in 2004. It’s only now, after driving an RX-8 for the first time since becoming a father, however, that I can truly appreciate versatility of this sports car.

Despite the RX-8’s nimble feel, great balance, and extremely flingable nature, it’s actually fairly spacious inside. The best features for parents, though, are the clamshell-style back doors, which allow supersimple access into the surprisingly accommodating pair of back seats. Installing two car seats (one infant carrier and one convertible seat) was nearly as easy a task as it is in a typical sedan — and much easier than contorting myself into the back of a Chevrolet Camaro, for instance. The clamshell doors yield an extrawide opening, too, so they’re out of the way when loading the kids. The Mazda’s trunk can even hold a decent amount of baby gear, although the double stroller was out of the question, and the trunk opening is fairly skinny. The only other minor complaints I have are that (1) I had to squat down more than usual to get the kids into the low-roofed coupe, (2) there wasn’t much legroom for my wife to sit in front of our infant’s long, bulky, basket-handled seat, and (3) my two-year-old had way too much fun kicking my seatback (I knew there’s a good reason I usually put her behind my wife).

The RX-8 would be a pretty terrible primary family car, don’t get me wrong. But if your family of three or four already has a minivan, station wagon, or crossover in the driveway, car-loving dads (and moms) owe it to themselves to check out the RX-8 — especially if you can bear the rotary-engine car’s sketchy cold-weather performance and excessive fuel and oil consumption.

Comments

We’ve Temporarily Removed Comments

As part of our ongoing efforts to make AutomobileMag.com better, faster, and easier for you to use, we’ve temporarily removed comments as well as the ability to comment. We’re testing and reviewing options to possibly bring comments back. As always, thanks for reading AutomobileMag.com.