2008 Mazda RX-8 R3

Sam Smith David Yochum

The RX-8 is an inviting car-small, sporty, fun to drive. It's not overly endowed with power (238 hp with a manual transmission), but with only about 3000 pounds to motivate, that's plenty. It's somewhat lacking in low-end grunt (only 159 lb-ft of torque), but if you keep the revs up, it's no problem.

The seats are fairly comfortable, and the fit and finish on our test car was quite nice. The layout and operation of the gauges and stereo/climate controls very logical, but there are a couple of things I'd like to see changed.

First, the only speedometer reading is digital. There's a large analog gauge for rpm, but only a digital readout for mph. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I still like to see a round speedometer gauge.

Second, I'd change the placement of the volume knob for the stereo. After thirty years of driving, it's been ingrained in me that the volume knob for the stereo is on the left side and the channel selector is on the right. In the RX-8, the channel selector is on the left, and the volume control is a large, centrally located knob. Even after reminding myself continually which knob was which, I'd often find myself changing the station when I really only wanted to change the volume. I guess in this case, an old dog can't learn a new trick.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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