We’ll do our best to avoid potential conflicts on the rotary-versus-piston engine debate, because the Mazda RX-8 is a neat sports car with lots of potential. We suspect that’s why Car Throttle’s video man Alex Kersten picked up the red racer you see above, and let’s be honest – just about every warm-blooded car enthusiast has been tempted by an inexpensive RX-8 at some point. That’s especially true when the car is offered for just £650, but as you might expect, a cheap rotary-powered sports car usually comes with some baggage. And we’re not talking about matched luggage in the boot.
This RX-8 runs and drives, and doesn’t look too bad aside from a bit of panel damage on the outside. However, Kersten seems rather confident that the mighty 1.3-litre rotary under the bonnet isn’t making all 238 bhp as when it was new. That’s partly because it likely never made that power – many RX-8 enthusiasts believe flywheel hp was closer to 210 – but mostly because the rotary is down on compression. Anyone familiar with the Wankel rotary engine knows all about worn apex seals, and they could well be an issue on this particular RX-8. That’s an issue to be addressed later, but first, the Mazda heads to the dyno to see just how much power is missing.
Gallery: Crippled Mazda RX-8 on dyno
Three pulls are made to get an average, and as you can see in our screenshot gallery above, at least one of those runs delivered 162.8 bhp (121.4 kW). It should be noted that this particular dyno calculates drivetrain loss automatically, so the number on the screen doesn’t represent power at the wheels, but power at the flywheel. That’s significant, because this one pull suggest the RX-8 is down upwards of 50 bhp (37 kW) from new.
Do the other two runs deliver more power? We’ll leave that mystery to the video, but let’s just say the Mazda’s prognosis doesn’t look good.