Mazda RX-8

26 Nov, 2012 10:00am

Plenty of choice for between £1,000 and £2,500 - the Mazda RX-8 is one of our favourites

Not all of your options at this price bracket need to be front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks.

You can get behind the wheel of the fun yet practical rear-wheel-drive Mazda RX-8 coupe for a touch under £2,500.

The four-seater is an Auto Express favourite, and the combination of revvy rotary engine, low-slung coupe body and reverse-hinged half doors makes it unlike anything else on the road. The chassis is well balanced, and even in 228bhp Hi Power guise, the RX-8 is fairly easy to handle.

Of course, the engine is thirsty – for oil as well as fuel – but if you factor in the higher running costs, you shouldn’t expect any nasty bills. Buy one that’s been cared for properly, and it should be reliable, too.

We saw a 2004 RX-8 Hi Power with 67,000 miles and a full history for £2,150 – and it came with air-con, heated mirrors and an electric sunroof.

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Seriously... first the poorly informed buying guide a couple of weeks ago and now AE are recommending £1k-2.5k RX8s as a low maintenance option?

I've now had mine for 7 years and it's truly a fantastic car, but even at the top end of this price range you're very unlikely to find one without issues. Budget £3-4k for a well looked after example from an owner who knows what they're doing - that's a real bargain and a better bet than a knackered Boxster (AE's £2500-5000 best buy).

Also make sure you get a proper rotary compression test on the engine by a Mazda dealer or a rotary specialist or you're asking for trouble and a £2k+ engine rebuild bill.

Pre-March 2006 cars attract much lower road tax than the later cars if that's important to you. And for the record whilst the rotary is designed to use oil as part of the combustion process, they really don't use much oil compared to many performance cars - this is a myth that's been floating around amongst journalists and pub "experts" for a decade. Half a litre every thousand miles won't break the bank nearly as much as the fuel bills will - whatever anyone tells you you'll struggle to get 20mpg in the real world.

Key specs

  • Price: £2,150
  • Miles: 67,000
  • Engine: 1.3-litre rotary
  • Power: 228bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 146mph