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Used buyer's guide: Mazda RX-8

The stylish Mazda RX-8 coupe is cheap to buy, but expensive to run

What to look for

• A compression test is essential to be sure of engine health. Also check the age of plugs and leads.• Anti-roll bar links can fail. This will cause car to lean into corners more and bring an MoT failure.• Rotary engine is designed to use oil; fail to top it up regularly, and the engine could suffer badly.

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The Mazda’s door arrangement is stylish, but makes rear access a pain. To get in and out of the back, the front doors have to be opened and the seatbelts unlatched, so the rear doors can be opened. Rear legroom isn’t great, either.

Beware of grey imports, which may not be to UK specification. Any car with an automatic gearbox is an unofficial import, while a 250bhp edition was also offered in some overseas markets.

Recalls

So far, the RX-8 has been recalled three times. The first was in May 2004 and concerned cracked or loose gearbox heat insulators on cars made in July and August 2003.

In August 2005, models built in July and December 2003 were recalled over a suspension ball joint that could separate, leading to steering loss. Also in August 2005, cars produced between July 2003 and December 2004 had to be checked because of possible fuel tank damage if the engine was run at high revs while parked.

Check out the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) website for up-to-date recall information.

Driver Power

Our view:The RX-8 finished a poor 89th last time it featured in our Driver Power satisfaction survey. Its best placing was 14th in 2005. Sadly, reliability issues are now common and running costs are high, while practicality is poor. However, braking, performance and handling are all excellent.

Your view:Ben Jubert, from Poole in Dorset, owns the RX-8 pictured here. “It’s a bit on the thirsty side,” he says, “but what else could you buy for so little cash that has so much equipment, such excellent handling and such a fantastic engine? It also looks and sounds incredible.”

Contacts

Official: www.mazda.co.uk   Owners' clubs: www.rx8ownersclub.co.uk | www.rx8club.com | www.mazdarotaryclub.com Forum: www.mazdaforum.com

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