The Spirited 2010 Mazda RX-8

Remember that famous animé, Spirited Away, and its insatiable black monster? This summer another black monster from Japan spirited me away. Its cheeky plates read Cool RX-8. Yes, monster: It’s probably been called Tyrannosaurus RX by other writers and you could see why.

A canon with laser precision
Imagine 232 HP@8,500 rpm from a 1.3 rotary engine. Yes, rotary, which has always been an efficient design, balancing output of power with lightness of weight.

Speaking of efficiency, the 6-speed manual transmission has a short shifter, putting you into the next gear that much sooner. Less shifting means sooner acceleration.

Speaking of shifting, the keyless start might confuse you if at first (as people do when getting used to a standard transmission) you stall in traffic. Instinctively you reach for the keys at the ignition but they’re not there.

Smile, embarrassed, while that bonehead behind honks because you’ve held him up now for 3.4 seconds. Restart. Release the clutch. Roar! You’re beyond his sight in 2.4.

Nothing more than feelings
A lot of math went into the suspension: double wishbone up front and rear multi-link, both with stabilizer bars. Meaning? Bump and whip – you’re in the drive. In the corners? Handling and thrust so precise, you understand how a curve ball feels.

Meanwhile assisted rack and pinion steering provides even more feel of the road. The whole experience is almost tactile.

Wicked design
The RX-8 has a face is like an angry insect. Already low to the ground with high wheel arches, its body lines seem to take their inspiration from somewhere between a concert cello and a jungle cat preparing to pounce.

Technically, it’s not only a four-seater it’s also a four-door. Practically, it’s something else but it looks cool.

Those mini freestyle doors open backwards, their handles cached in the side. So, front and rear doors swing apart, mimicking open hands to greedily take you in and any very short friends you have for the back. Shorties make excellent ballast should you decide to test the aforementioned performance.

All together, it’s a drive auto writers euphemistically call ‘spirited’.

MSRP from $43,795

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