Fleet News

Mazda RX-8 231

Mazda

Review

I WAS talking to a fleet manager the other day who has responsibility for more than 2,000 company cars and vans.

A total of 20% of her fleet is funded through an ECO scheme, where employees opt out of the traditional company car scheme and take a cash for car option, and a handful of those cars are made up of Mazda RX-8s.

The drivers have to dig fairly deep into their own pockets because the business mileage they are allowed to claim back from the company is less than they would have paid at the pumps.

Such examples prove the desirability of a car like the RX-8, whose individuality and stylish good looks mean those who want and can afford to have one as a company car or through an alternative company car scheme are prepared to pay extra for the privilege.

Despite being rear-wheel drive, which can make the back end a little twitchy in wet conditions, with some considerate and careful driving the car behaved impeccably during the recent snowy weather.

Spending time behind the wheel of the RX-8 is a grin-inducing experience – whether on a long motorway journey or zipping through a city. But it’s on dry country roads where the car is most fun – it sticks to the road like a go-kart and boasts precise steering that takes you exactly where you want to go.

Having a rotary engine ensures there’s no shortage of conversation about the car in my local pub with many regulars fondly reminiscing about the RX-7 of the 1990s and others concerned that rotary engine technology is still not proven. This is despite it first being introduced in the 1960s.

Those in the know about rotary engines also query the car’s fuel consumption, remembering how thirsty they were.

Well, the RX-8 is certainly thirsty – the official combined figure is 24.8mpg and I’ve recently been achieving just over 21mpg.

I’m still meticulously checking the oil level every 400 or so miles as rotary engines consume oil at a higher rate than conventional engines. This does reduce as the car ploughs through the miles but it’s important to be disciplined in this area.

Many companies are put off allowing staff to drive sports cars because they think their image can be seen as too flashy and, subsequently, too expensive.

If a company driver was to arrive at a customer’s premises in an RX-8 I believe he or she would portray an image of being stylish, creative and forward thinking.

It’s a cracking car that’s not only great fun and looks fantastic but providing there is no need to transport too much work-related paraphernalia, can prove an ideal company car.

However, company motorists must be prepared to check the oil regularly and not be too surprised at how many fuel fill-ups they will need to make. Mike Roberts

Fact File
Model: Mazda RX-8 231
Price (OTR): £22,100 (£25,900 as tested)
Mileage: 4,504
CO2 emissions (g/km): 284
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £256 per month
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 24.8
Test mpg: 21.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £8,875 (41%)
HSBC contract hire rate: £501.94
Expenditure to date: Nil

  • Figures based on three years/60,000 miles
  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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