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Headline:AutoRoadTests.com Mazda RX8 PZ Road TestDate:06/11/2006
Source:AutoRoadTests.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:AutoRoadTests.com Mazda RX8 PZ Road Test

 
 

AutoRoadTests.com
Review

 

Mazda RX8
PZ



Our Thoughts
Mazda's great 4-door coupe + Prodrive = the recipe for delight ?
 
 

Background

  Ask most people what they would do to the RX-8 to improve it and I bet the majority would say give it more power. However when Mazda approached Prodrive with a remit to make the car more focused Ė that particular enhancement wasnít on the agenda. Instead they have made a number of changes to the carís looks and character which they think will fit the bill.

Add to that the fact that only 800 examples of this car will be made and you have a pretty interesting diversion from the standard car. In fact if you want to be even more exclusive choose the Galaxy Grey colour of our test car as only 320 of the 800 will be in that colour, the rest will be Brilliant Black

 

Exterior Styling

 


Darker, meaner and lower. PZ looks the part.
The PZ takes the RX8 look to a whole new level, itís darker and more aggressive. Specifically the PZ gets unique 10 spoke 18-inch OZ alloys, upgraded twin rear silencer, new rear spoiler, lowered suspension, different door mirrors, mesh grille inserts in the front and rear bumpers. Oh and one or two PZ and Prodrive badges.

The rear spoiler has been tested in the MIRA wind tunnels and has been proven to generate more down-force, thus making the PZ more stable at higher speeds it also plays a big part in making the car look more serious. On each of the spoiler are carbon fibre Prodrive and PZ badges (Prodrive on passenger side and PZ on drivers side).

The mirrors are designed to reduce drag and again they distinguish the car from the standard one. Both front wings get PZ badges just behind the side vents, the wheels have central carbon fibre centre caps branded with both OZ and Prodrive. Finally the new exhausts have prodrive stamped on the top.

My favourite colour for the PZ is black, although the Grey still looks great.

 

Interior Styling

 

PZ gets leather cabin of standard car - well spec'd but no PZ touches.

The PZís interior is the same as you would find in a leather-upholstered high powered RX8. There are no specific changes for the PZ, so really you are only aware of being in the PZ by the door mirrors and rear view mirror which are both visible from inside.

Read what we thought of the interior in our high powered RX8 review.

 
 

Ride, Handling & Steering

 


Firmer setup, further improves handling - ride remains great.
Apart from the visual changes, the majority of effort that has been expended by Mazda and Prodrive concerns the PZís ride and handling.

Mechanically, Prodrive has lowered the ride height by 15mm all round. They have fitted special Bilstein dampers and Eibach coil springs to help reduce roll and pitch and therefore achieve much flatter cornering characteristics. The spring rates have been increased by 60% and also the front bump stops have been shortened by 10mm. The suspension geometry has been revised to make the most of these changes however crucially the rest of the car has been left standard to ensure rear passenger ride comfort.

In practice the PZ does drive a lot firmer and you really notice the lack of roll when you're cornering. You really feel confident pushing the car. The standard car was a very neutral car with great balance and on the road you are very happy with the car. However with the PZ you notice things have stepped up a gear and the car is just that bit more connected to the road beneath it.

On the flip slide ride is not compromised by the firmer setup and so the car is fine to use everyday and for long journeys.

On the track the car is great fun to drive and again comes across as very amenable to whatever you throw at it. If you switch off the traction control you have to really provoke the car to get it out of shape. The car will understeer and run out wide unless of course you provoke the rear, in which case you balance the car through fast tight corners. Around Castle Combe I was completely happy driving the car hard with the traction control disabled such is the nature of the car. On a couple of occasions my abilities failed to match my ambitions but in both cases the car saved the day.

In all the PZ is an involving and entertaining car to drive.

 

Engine, Gearbox and Performance

 


Same performance, but enhanced sound definitely makes it feel quicker.
Whilst there have been no changes to the cars engine, the car does benefit from upgraded rear silencers. Officially the change has made no impact on the cars performance it merely enhances the sound of the car both inside and outside.

What I can say is that from my point of view the car feels faster. Now whether this is subjective or actually a fact I canít say. When we tested the standard high power car we achieved a 0-60 time of 6.72secs and a 0-100 time of 17.26secs. Unfortunately, England reverted back to normal for the week that we had the car and so road conditions were at best wet. As such we didnít get a good chance to Vbox the car.

It seems a little obvious to say it, but you really have to rev the car to get the most out of it. With a red line at an eye watering 9,000 rpm youíd kind of expect that. Thing is Iím not sure I really got the hang of this until the last couple of times that Iíve driven the car. Certainly, towards the end of this last week that I drove the car, I felt far more comfortable with the cars performance. As with the standard car the gearchange is very good and the gearstick itself is short and stubby with a nice short throw.

The place I noticed the lack of ultimate power though, was on the track. In this case I was driving around Castle Combe. It was clear when driving the turbo powered Mazda 6 MPS that the RX8 wasnít as fast on the longer straights. That said, it is more accomplished as a complete package though.

Fundamentally this is where your thoughts wanderÖ. what would the car be like if theyíd been able to play with the engine. There has been talk of a turbo version of the engine and that really excites me Ė but at the moment that is exactly all it is - talk.

As things stand I think the PZ is a definite improvement over the standard car, even if that may only be an audible enhancement. . I guess the main thing for me is that I preferred the sound the car made, and as a result enjoyed driving it more.

  Here are the performance figures for the standard High Power car, which according to Mazda are identical for this car:

Acceleration0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100
Mazda RX8 High Power (1 (03 - ))
(2.5)

(4.1)

(5.5)

(7.1)

(9.3)

(11.6)

(14.2)

(18.1)
Mazda RX8 High Power (1 (03 - ))
AutoRoadTests.com

(2.57)

(4.01)

(5.21)

(6.72)

(8.81)

(10.91)

(13.80)

(17.26)
*All AutoRoadTests.com stats are performed on private roads and repeated several times with the average displayed.

 

Practicality

 


No compromise to this car's practicality over the standard car.
Crucially non of the PZ changes effect the carís practicality, economy or emissions in fact the only implication of choosing the PZ model over the standard high power car is an insurance grouping that is one higher (17E).

Also some of the modification like the unique wheels is actually priced similarly to the standard wheels. Although you wonít be able to fit them on your standard car as they can only be order if you have a PZ.

 

Conclusion

  Iím sold! the PZ is a great sports car, it handles really well and has plenty of go. It also looks the part. Add to that the still unique four-door coupe aspects and you have a really attractive proposition on your hands. When Iíve previously consider my thoughts if I was in the market for buying a RX8, Iíve always had my eye on the Nissan 350z, which is a close competitor Ė albeit with only 2 seats. With the PZ, I wouldnít be thinking about the Nissan.

At 25,995 the PZ compares to the £22,900 for a standard high power car (£21,400 for the low power model). However, once you add the leather and metallic paint which are both options on the high power RX-8, that takes the price to £24,825. Making the PZ look a lot of car for the money, sure it comes across new rivals, but as we concluded when we reviewed the high power car there arenít many true rivals for the RX-8.

One last thing did I mention its sounds great too ?
 
Neil
 
 
Related Links
Full Set of Photos taken during the test

Original comfirmation of RX-8 production

More News on the RX-8

Background on the Wankel Engine and Mazda's latest RENESIS engine

Press Release about the RX-8 PZ



Our Road Test of the Mazda RX-8 high power


Our Road Test of the Mazda RX-8 low power



Read about our long term RX-8 high power


Mazda UK's RX-8 website

RX-8 PZ Subsite

Mazda RX-8 Advert
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