The rotary's depressing torque output may actually be a boon to the RX-8. Instead of the simple kick of easy acceleration, the RX-8 leads you to handling nirvana where the thrills are much more satisfying. It's unfortunate that the RX-8 is a relative outcast in the sports car set, as it's an absolutely wonderful car. The Recaro seats are comfortably snug, the stubby shifter feels wonderful, and the engine spins effortlessly. The only thing the RX-8 wants is that sizeable dose of torque.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Wankel must dramatically evolve or face certain extinction. The dismal fuel economy doesn't stand a chance against the coming regulations and the low volume means each engine could practically be classified as a science project. Hopefully the 16X engine concept that Mazda showed in 2007 will come to production. With that engine's direct injection, larger displacement, and a modified crankshaft, Mazda claims both increased torque and fuel economy.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor