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2004 Mazda RX-8

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$54 — $13,054 USED
Coupe
4 Seats
21 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
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Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Price and refinement
  • Smooth ride for a sports car
  • Easy-shifting gearbox
  • Easy backseat entry
  • Cocoonlike front seats

The Bad

  • Overly civilized sports car
  • Tight rear-seat legroom
  • Small trunk opening

What to Know

about the 2004 Mazda RX-8
  • Dual-rotor engine
  • Shapely styling
  • Freestyle door layout
  • 50/50 weight distribution
  • Optional navigation system

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2004 Mazda RX-8 Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
Mazda offered its last rotary engine in the RX-7 sports car, which expired after the 1995 model year. Since then, fans of the rotary power plant have hoped for a revival, and now their wish has been granted. Mazda’s new RX-8 sports car is equipped with a modern version of rotary-engine power; it went on sale in July 2003 as a 2004 model.

Instead of a two-door coupe with space for two passengers, the rear-wheel-drive RX-8 is a four-door sports car that carries four occupants. Rear-hinged half-doors permit easier entry into the backseat, and there’s no center pillar to block the way. Weight distribution is a balanced 50/50 in the front and rear.

With its long history of rotary power, Mazda has a sporting heritage that reaches back not only to the RX-7 series but also to the 1967 Cosmo Sport. Developers came up with three ingredients for the RX-8. First, it needed to flaunt “striking original sports-car styling.” Secondly, it had to be a superior blend of sports handling and performance. And finally, it had to deliver suitable ride comfort and practicality for four adults.

Mazda’s Renesis next-generation rotary engine is smaller and lighter than prior rotaries, yet it yields more power. With its new side-intake side-exhaust configuration, and without using a turbocharger or supercharger, this engine produces either 197 or 238 horsepower, depending on the transmission.

Prices start below $26,000 (excluding the destination charge) for models equipped with a four-sp...

Vehicle Overview
Mazda offered its last rotary engine in the RX-7 sports car, which expired after the 1995 model year. Since then, fans of the rotary power plant have hoped for a revival, and now their wish has been granted. Mazda’s new RX-8 sports car is equipped with a modern version of rotary-engine power; it went on sale in July 2003 as a 2004 model.

Instead of a two-door coupe with space for two passengers, the rear-wheel-drive RX-8 is a four-door sports car that carries four occupants. Rear-hinged half-doors permit easier entry into the backseat, and there’s no center pillar to block the way. Weight distribution is a balanced 50/50 in the front and rear.

With its long history of rotary power, Mazda has a sporting heritage that reaches back not only to the RX-7 series but also to the 1967 Cosmo Sport. Developers came up with three ingredients for the RX-8. First, it needed to flaunt “striking original sports-car styling.” Secondly, it had to be a superior blend of sports handling and performance. And finally, it had to deliver suitable ride comfort and practicality for four adults.

Mazda’s Renesis next-generation rotary engine is smaller and lighter than prior rotaries, yet it yields more power. With its new side-intake side-exhaust configuration, and without using a turbocharger or supercharger, this engine produces either 197 or 238 horsepower, depending on the transmission.

Prices start below $26,000 (excluding the destination charge) for models equipped with a four-speed-automatic transmission and just above $27,000 for models that feature the six-speed-manual gearbox. A fully equipped Gran Touring RX-8 costs approximately $33,000.

Exterior
Displaying an abundance of curves, the four-door RX-8 leads off with an aggressive front air intake. A power bulge in the low hood features a rotor motif. Short overhangs in the front and rear are coupled with overfenders to enhance the appearance of stability on the road. Functional side vents sit behind the front wheels.

Lacking center pillars, the freestyle door system gives the RX-8 a look all of its own. The front doors are hinged at the front, and lightweight aluminum back doors are hinged at the rear. A safety lock mechanism allows the back doors to open only if the front doors are open. Steel pillars in each rear door serve as “virtual” B-pillars, according to Mazda. The shape of the rear pillars and back window recall the company’s prior sports cars. Mazda claims that the RX-8 driver can see all four corners of the car.

A long-arm double-wishbone suspension is used up front, and a multilink beam suspension is featured at the rear. Rack-and-pinion steering employs an electric pump.

Designers “began by sculpting a body with a dynamic feeling of motion,” according to Mazda, which says the RX-8 is “reminiscent of a top athlete.” The automaker says its dimensions are virtually identical to those of the Porsche 911 Carrera. The RX-8 stands 52.8 inches tall, measures 174.3 inches long overall and rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Rear combination lamps have chrome accents and sit above dual exhaust outlets. Manual-shift models get 18-inch tires, while 16-inchers accompany models equipped with the automatic transmission. A spare tire is not included, and a moonroof is optional. A Sport Package includes xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, fog lights and Dynamic Stability Control.

Interior
Mazda calls the two-passenger cockpit “pleasingly snug,” emphasizing special textures and metallic materials. An aluminum-framed center console and a rear parcel shelf are included. The seats and trim are two-toned in black and the body color. Aluminum accents the console, transmission tunnel and gearshift lever. The front headrests, side sill covers and shift lever have a triangular shape to suggest the engine’s rotors. A high backbone is located in the upper portion of the transmission tunnel, running from the front bulkhead to the rear bulkhead.

Lightweight front bucket seats have a rigid molded form, and they have three bolsters to hold occupants in place during fast driving. Leather upholstery and a navigation system are optional. The sun visors are mesh-textured. Two golf bags can fit into the trunk.

Under the Hood
The new Renesis 1.3-liter twin-rotor engine generates 197 hp at 7,200 rpm and 164 pounds-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm with the four-speed-automatic transmission. With the six-speed-manual gearbox, the same engine pumps out 238 hp at 8,500 rpm and 159 pounds-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm.

Safety
All-disc antilock brakes, side curtain-type airbags, side thorax (or chest) airbags and front seat belt pretensioners are standard. Dynamic Stability Control senses skidding and then applies the brakes and controls engine torque as needed.

Driving Impressions
Extra doors don’t impair the RX-8’s sports car status, but this rotary-engined beauty is almost too easy to drive. Not much effort is required to extract snappy winding-road performance from the well-behaved steering and suspension.

The seats are snugly bolstered to cocoon the occupants and comfortably cushioned to take advantage of the surprisingly good ride qualities. Though it is clearly taut to produce confident control, the suspension takes the edge off all but the worst bumps.

As expected, the RX-8’s acceleration is spirited — even exuberant — with the six-speed, but it’s not at the top of the pack. The gearshift is inviting to use and corresponds well with the mannerly clutch.

Other than some tire noise, the RX-8 is quiet. While accelerating at all but tepid speeds, the rotary engine emits a siren’s song that makes the driver want to push it harder.

Forward visibility is fine, but the door pillar impedes the driver’s over-left-shoulder view a bit. A large tachometer in the center of the instrument cluster contains a digital speedometer. Despite a small opening, the trunk has a fair amount of space and a small pass-thru.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.2
70 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(3.7)
Value For The Money
(4.1)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Fun Sporty Car

by MrSportsCar from Minneapolis, MN on September 24, 2019

This car is the funnest thing I have driven. It feels as if you are driving a go kart on the road and is a great handling car! Read full review

(5.0)

5 Rotary's never a Apex seal problem.

by Moveover188 from Chicago on June 6, 2019

You have to drive rotary motor hard !! If you drive like xxxxx !! RX cars are not for you !! If you flood a rotary , change plugs Start it up!! Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2004 Mazda RX-8 currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2004 Mazda RX-8 has not been tested.

Latest 2004 RX-8 Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The RX-8 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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