Best of 2012: Used Mazda RX-8 is impractical, but I love it
It’s true that I regularly drive brand-new cars, but I’ve never come close to owning anything remotely new. My newest vehicle to date was nearly six years old and had already had its first 100,000 km of experience before my name got printed on its registration. Neither freelance journalism, nor a career in auto repair are get-rich-quick schemes, it turns out.
This summer it became time to retire my faithful 1993 240SX. It was mechanically sound, but unfortunately becoming frail of body.
An alignment of planets saw me financially capable of procuring something considerably newer. As in new.
A sane person would have gone and bought an actual new car. Not me. For a certifiable car nut, a decade or more of rationally thought-out, practical front-wheel drive car ownership is only slightly better than bamboo splints under the fingernails, so I went as new as my budget allowed, and bought a low-mileage (22,000 km), two-and-a-half year-old RX-8 R3 from a west-end Mazda dealer instead.
Aside from having an adult-inhabitable back seat, there’s absolutely nothing practical about an RX-8. The spare tire-less trunk holds less than the glovebox of some minivans, the R3 model’s heavily bolstered Recaro seats remind me daily that yes, I could lose a few pounds, and the rotary engine’s thirst for oil (it’s deliberately injected for lubrication) is exceeded only by its ability to drink premium fuel at a rate that would make a Hummer H2 blush.
Despite that — and that my local Mazda dealer and I are currently not seeing eye-to-eye on some minor warranty concerns — I love the car.
It came wearing a Mazdaspeed exhaust system, a collection of stainless steel tubes which gloriously amplify the Wankel engine’s unusual giant-chainsaw-meets-sportbike exhaust note, while sharing that motor’s endearing tendency to pop during shifts with occupants and bystanders alike.
Sure, the electric steering isn’t perfect, but it is very communicative, and the chassis balances tight control with something bearing a passing resemblance to ride quality, so I’m happy.
Ironically, I feel so guilty about exposing the RX-8 to winter’s ravages (it’s never been winter-driven), that I’m desperately trying to put my other car on the road instead. It’s a 25-year-old Nissan 200SX.
Some people never learn.