The Mazda RX-8 is a four-seat sports car, and the latest in a long line of rotary-engine sports cars from the Japanese automaker.

In addition to its unusual engine design, the RX-8 follows a unique quad-coupe body style, with two small rear-hinged half doors allowing better access to the rear seating positions

The RX-8 was introduced for the 2004 model year, after its predecessor, the RX-7 had been absent from the U.S. market for most of a decade.

While the RX-7 in its later years had become a heavier—more bloated, some might say—grand tourer, laden with tech features

the RX-8 took the light, nimble feel of the Miata and was, from the start, more affordable.  the RX-8 took the light, nimble feel of the Miata and was, from the start, more affordable.

The RX-8 design was absolutely like no other, and blended form and function in better fashion than most other sports cars of its time

In front—which is where you want to be—you sit low to the road, though slightly more upright than other sports coupes, with a small-diameter steering wheel and close cockpit-style gauges. Mazda RX-8

The 232-horsepower, 1.3-liter twin-rotary engine doesn't make much torque, and to access the bulk of it you have to keep the engine revving  Mazda RX-8

Thank goodness, it's extremely rev-happy and satisfying to exercise to its upper ranges.  Mazda RX-8

Peak power is made at 9,000 rpm, and the engine gets a motorcycle-like wail when it's up there.  Mazda RX-8

In 2009, the RX-8 received some structural improvements, as well as a reconfigured suspension geometry

which resulted in even more confident handling while reducing interior noise and vibration.  Mazda RX-8

With these newer models especially, the RX-8 is actually a lot more civil than you'd expect. Mazda RX-8

Also for 2009, Mazda rolled out a top-of-the-line R3 package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension

Bilstein shocks, and high-performance tires on 19-inch smoky forged-alloy wheels, plus foam-filled front-suspension crossmembers.  Mazda RX-8