Most people know that Mazda builds sporty cars. But for some, it's the company's history of building true sports cars with lightweight rotary engines that sets it apart from the competition. The Mazda RX-8 was one of these models, and it enjoys the distinction of being the only one with a four-door configuration, providing reverse-opening rear access doors and a genuinely accommodating backseat. Sold from 2004-'11, the RX-8 didn't change much during its lengthy run.
The heart of the Mazda RX-8 is a 1.3-liter rotary engine with a thrilling 9,000-rpm redline: that is, if you can find one with the six-speed manual transmission. The available six-speed automatic was limited to 7,500 rpm, yielding about 10 percent less horsepower. With either transmission, torque from the rotary engine is very modest, and shoppers should note that this engine is known for both significant oil consumption and poor fuel economy. But with its perfectly balanced weight distribution, sharp steering and svelte 3,000-pound curb weight, the rear-wheel-drive RX-8 is one of the best-handling cars ever made.