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

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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

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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.

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

Yes..

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

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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..

Seriously?!

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).

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Would you buy another?

Yes

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.

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

 

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