The thing that sets the RX-8 apart from the pack is its rotary engine. The great thing about the Mazda’s rotary is how progressive the power delivery is. There’s no power lag or surge. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t really come alive until you hit 6000 rpm, below that it feels as if it’s in slow motion.
That being said, it is a competent, easy car to drive, that’s great for around town errands. It small size makes it easy to maneuver in crowded grocery store parking lots but its trunk is still big enough to hold a fairly large amount of stuff. Don’t plan on hitting the Home Depot, though. It can’t swallow oversized items and because the trunk is so shallow even things such as small shrubs won’t fit without lying them on their side. I guess it’s a good thing the back seats are barely fit for even the smallest adult human and are rarely used…they’re better used to strap in a pair of junipers after a splurge purchase at the landscaping store.
The front seat is also quite tight. The storage bins in the doors are so narrow my garage door opener barely fit lying flat. Even the footwell feels extremely tight. That feeling is exacerbated by a gas and brake pedal that are placed a little too close to the driver in relation to the clutch. Thankfully, because of the low-slung dash and the high-set seats, the view forward is clear and helps the tight cabin feel more airy.
When the new RX-8 first appeared, it had oodles of cache because of its rotary. Now that the cache has fizzled the RX-8 is just a sports car with a unique engine but no spark. A redesign of the cabin that offered more room and an increase in the low end grunt of the rotary would do wonders for this somewhat invisible car.