Mazda RX-8 -- 2004 Review: Fantasy and reality are normally mutually exclusive concepts. Think of the Hollywood stars that comprise your “list,” and now gaze over at your significant other. Imagine the exotic locale at which you most wish you could be relaxing with your favorite ice-cold beverage in hand, and now stare ahead at the brake lights of creeping morning rush-hour traffic while you’re late to your eight o’clock meeting. Dream of slicing through canyons on perfect blacktop two-lane, and then go look in the garage at your humdrum sedan.
Wait a minute. Rewind to that last fantasy vs. reality scenario. Mazda’s got you covered with the RX-8 sports car. Sometimes, fantasy can become reality.
A sports car and a family car in one package
Seriously, the Mazda RX-8 is a true sports car, but with four doors and room aboard for four average-sized adults. Even the trunk is configured to meet the requirements of a daily driver, if not a family road tripper. If there’s anything to complain about here, it’s a dearth of engine power at low revs, natural design concessions given the RX-8’s dual-intent mission, and cartoonish styling that appeals from few angles.
Stylish, but not attractive
Perhaps too stylish for its own good, the Mazda RX-8 is most handsome in profile, with its smiley face front end and boy-racer taillights hidden from view. The front fenders bulge prominently, and side gills add visual interest. The simple five-spoke alloy wheels on our test car, part of the highly recommended Sport package, are gorgeous. In front, the RX-8 possesses a disconcerting smile through its five-point air intake and narrow, upswept headlamps, looking more like a toothless, angry, Bozo the Clown than a menacing sports car. At the rear, especially from a three-quarter viewpoint, we’re reminded of the Studebaker Avanti, a groundbreaking design that, in various permutations, lasted about three decades longer than it should have. Beautiful, like the 1993-95 RX-7, the RX-8 is not, but at least it’s got style and won’t get lost in a crowd.