Fleet News

Mazda RX-8 231

Mazda

Review

IT IS hard shifting my focus away from our RX-8’s performance and handling, especially now I’ve sold my motorbike and binned the helmet, jacket, gloves et al.

Anyhow, for now the Mazda is my therapeutic safety net staving off the inevitable high-octane ‘cold turkey’ until the nasty man from Mazda comes to wrestle the RX-8’s keys from me. Then I’ll worry.

For now, the RX-8 just gets better despite the too-frequent fuel stops and race-car hard suspension. But even with that ride I prefer pockmarked and undulating minor A and B-roads to smooth and often congested motorways. On them the RX-8 gets bored.

Baulked by slower overtaking traffic, and with a frustrating absence of any torque, constant use of the smooth-changing gears is called for.

Off the main roads it can legally stretch its legs in the close-stacked intermediate gears, and I can play at being F1 ace Fernando Alonso.

Barring the odd irritation, the RX-8 has been reliable… there has been the engine’s occasional reluctance to fire-up on the first turn of the key – predominantly in wet conditions, or after sitting out in hot weather. And then the Bose audio system which, on a whim, refuses to fully load my CDs, trapping them where they can’t play or be ejected.

Cunning measures have been called for: a short length of thick double-sided tape carefully fed into the loading slot and some gentle downward pressure on the CD’s top face is just enough to grab and retrieve it.

The car’s first service is due at 12,500 miles, so I’ll ask the dealer to look into this, and the increasingly squealing brakes.

The RX-8’s ‘freestyle’ rear doors have caused a few heart-in-mouth moments despite my customary pre-boarding and alighting ‘close the rear doors first’ lecture to any passengers.

Mazda must have foreseen this, adding strategically placed extra-thick door seals where expensive metal-to-metal contact could be made.

There has been an improvement in oil consumption which seems to have coincided with Shell Helix Ultra oil being used for top-ups.

Initially, minor top-ups were required every 400 miles, but of late this has extended to 600 miles or so. Fuel consumption, on the other hand, is firmly pegged in the low 20s mpg.

Model: Mazda RX-8 231
Price (OTR): £22,100 (£25,900 as tested)
Mileage: 10,600
CO2 emissions (g/km): 284
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £256 per month
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 24.8
Test mpg: 21
CAP Monitor residual value: £9,725/44%
HSBC contract hire rate: £441 Expenditure to date: £10.49 (litre of oil) 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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