Fast Friends: Having a wankel with Alex Hope


There’s very little that’s conventional about Mazda’s RX-8 and, thanks to a rather unique ownership experience, the same can be said for its owners.

Yep, the thing is that, despite sickening residuals and vicious running costs, there are plenty of people that have thrived off the individuality of these pistonless coupes.

My good friend Alex Hope is one of those people, he talks about his beloved RX-8 R3 below



Okay, so what was it about the RX8?

I have always liked the look of the pre-facelift RX8 and when I got bored of my Fiesta ST I knew I had to have one. Then I saw the R3 version and knew it was the car for me.

Everything seems to be bigger and smaller versions of the same car lately, designers have become lazy, but I think that the RX is unique and I love that about it. Occasionally I see other cars that interest me but none that I actually want to buy. I guess that’s why I love it so much


Tell us more about the R3 model

Well, along with aesthetic improvements, the R3 featured stiffer Bilstein dampers and other suspension tweaks, Recaro seats and a revised version of the higher output (228hp) Renesis engine.

How long have you had the RX8?

I’ve had it for 3.5 years and have covered 20,000 miles in that time.


20,000 miles, ouch thats a lot of fuel in one of these, right?


Lets not beat about the bush, RX8s are known to have a bit of a drinking problem, how bad are we talking?

I get 21mpg(UK) around town, and the lowest I’ve seen is 8mpg – I’m really enjoying the reduction in UK fuel prices at present


What about oil?

I’m on first name terms with the staff at my local Mazda dealership, and they already know what I’m going to ask before I get to the counter..


Yes! I purchased 4 litres of the stuff from the Mazda dealership in early December ’15 and I’ve got about 500ml left (March ’16).


Tell us the best thing about life without pistons

The smoothness of the drive, you really have to experience it for yourself

Whats it like to drive?

There’s plenty of power from 6,000rpm all the way to the 9,500 rpm limiter – where you get a loud beep!

The gearbox is good enough there’s real pleasure to be had from using it. The interior is also a really nice place to be.


Where is the car at its best?

The RX8 isn’t a car to race people from the lights with, it’s all about having fun in the twisties

Had any reliability issues with the car?

I had friends that told me this car would blow up on me within a few weeks but in truth I’ve had no problems. The internet is full of horror stories with these cars but my car is proof that, when looked after correctly, these can be very reliable


Is it true that the RX8 requires some special attention?

There’s an engine start/stop procedure that should be followed, it involves holding the vehicle at a certain rpm for around 10-15 seconds both before and after a drive. This way the engine stays sufficiently lubricated and doesn’t flood with fuel. It’s something I’ve followed religiously since owning the vehicle.

This isnt a car for someone with a shared driveway, then..

 Nope, it’s pretty annoying at times and makes you look like a bit of a knob in a car park.. I once had to leave detailed written instructions on this procedure for a female friend to follow once I went on holiday


Bloody hell, that’s a bit of a nightmare, is there anything you really don’t like about the car?

Only the associated costs: the tax is brutal at £505.. actually, it’s well over what it costs me to insure the car for a year. Being picky, on longer drives you’ll notice the cabin gets very warm, other than that I’ve got no complaints.


Would you buy another?


Whats next then Alex?

I’ve got no plans to part with this car. Next will most likely be a CBR600 – once I get around to my bike test that is.



Related: Fast Friends: Tom Parsons’ modified Nissan GT-R


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  1. Hi Oli,

    Great pictures and excellent interview. The Mazda RX-8 is a great car, but I love the old style of less modern japanese cars, specially the Mazda RX-7 and the old Nissan Skyline GTR (R-32, R-33 and R-34). I’m a nostalgic man 😉

    Wich lenses have you used? Have you an f/2.8 lens? The quality and sharpness of your photographs is very high

    (Excuse me for my peculiar English language, because it’s not my mother tongue)

    Best regards from Madrid (Spain),


    • Hey Mikele, great to hear from you again and I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      I’m with you when it comes to the 90’s Japanese stuff, some of my favourites in there!

      I tend to use Fuji’s 35mm and 14mm XF lenses, they’re both very fast at f1.4 and f2.8 respectively.

      Don’t worry, your English is very good!

      All the best,


  2. Great article. I have an R3 too. I’ve also owned 2 S1 RX8s over the last 7 years. You don’t need to follow the shutting down procedure if the engine is warm. It doesn’t provide any benefits at all unless for some reason you need to shut the engine off whilst it is still cold, then it will prevent flooding. My source is the, this topic and the infamous Mazda tech video on youtube explaining the starting/shutting down procedure has been discussed quite a few times.

    • Thanks Lee, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the info on the shutdown procedure – as a man who’s only dealt with pistons I find the whole subject pretty fascinating.

  3. Great Article! There is so much lengthy articles and reviews on these things. Nice to see something short and sweet. Probably the only one I’ve actually read to the end 🙂

  4. I am a fellow Series 2 RX8 owner, it seems you are going through a lot of oil (judging from your mileage). I go through probably 1 quart/liter every 2 months and by average put on more miles than you and also drive my RX very hard (as you’re supposed to, redline shifts all day). Are you checking the oil levels when the car is warm? It has a thicker/ more condensed viscosity at cold which may prompt you to fill top up when it’s not needed.

    • Hi Steve.
      Thanks for your comment about oil usage. To be fair, usually it’s not too bad, but when the petrol prices plummeted before Christmas I went a bit nuts and did several long distance trips over a relatively short space of time. I’ve calmed down a bit now and oil usage is back to “normal” levels.
      I take your point about checking when it’s warm, on the couple of times I tried it, I found that I got inconsistent readings, but will give it another go.

  5. As a fellow RX-8 owner (but i had a little preference for the S1) I am always glad to see someone interested in them.
    As a fellow blog writer, the pics are just astonishing (and far better than mine obviously) and the interview is really well reported.

    Just keep going !

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