Years, Trims, and Variants
The RX-8 was produced for
- US/Canadian model years 2004 through 2011
- European model years 2003 through 2010
- Japanese model years 2003 through 2012
There was a generation change from US model year 2008 to 2009. This means that US spec 2004-2008 RX-8s (Series 1) are NOT the same as 2009-2012 RX-8s (Series 2). There are many changes between the cars. A full list of changes is available on RX8Club.com here
The Series 2 RX-8s are generally "better" cars, with most of the changes being good changes. Most modifications for the Series 1 are possible on the Series 2, although perhaps not from the same vendor. The SOHN adapter is one of the few items that is usable on a Series 1, but there is no Series 2 option.
The following applies to the US only
- 2005-2006 Whitewater Pearl (25D)
- 2007-2011 Crystal White Pearl (34K)
- 2004-2008 Sunlight Silver Metallic (22V)
- 2006-2008 Galaxy Gray (32S)
- 2004-2005 Titanium Gray Metallic (29Y)
- 2007 Metropolitian Grey Mica (36C) (40th Anniversary Only)
- 2009-2011 Diamond Grey
- 2004-2008 Brilliant Black (A3F with Clearcoat) (PZ without Clearcoat)
- 2009-2011 Sparkaling Black Mica
- 2004-2011 Velocity Red Mica (27A)
- 2006 Copper Red (32V) (Shinka Only)
- 2004 Lightning Yellow (A4J)
- 2004-2005 Nordic Green Mica (27C)
- 2004-2006 Winning Blue Metallic (27B)
- 2006-2007 Phantom Blue Mica (32C)
- 2007-2008 Stormy Blue Mica (35J)
- 2009-2011 Aurora Blue (R3 Only)
- 2005 Black Cherry Mica (Shinka Only) (28W)
Major Trims and Packages
The following applies to the US only
In 2004, there was only 1 "Trim" level, officially: Base
In 2005, an additional trim was officially added: Shinka.
For 2004 and 2005, all commonly referred to trims were option packages. This means that all 2004 and 2005s will NOT list their trim level in 3rd party databases. You have to visually take a look to see what is in the car. For 2005, most cars will show as "Base/Shinka", meaning "Base or Shinka, we don't know".
Major Option Packages, and later trim levels (only significant parts of the packages are listed)
- Sport Suspension option package: 18" wheels to fit over larger brakes, carbon fiber driveshaft, stiffer sway bars, firmer shocks and springs
- Touring option package: Automatically got Sport Suspension, plus a moon roof and fog lights
- Grand Touring option package: Touring plus heated leather seats
All manual transmission equipped RX-8s automatically got the 6-port engine and the Sport Suspension package.
So having an Automatic transmission and not having any of these packages left you with what we have termed the "Base Automatic". These are actually rare, since even many of the lower trim automatics were ordered with the Sport Suspension as well, even if not with Touring or Grand Touring packages. The Base Automatic was most remarkably different in that it was a combination of missing so many things that made the RX-8 good. It was missing the higher RPM redline, missing the better suspension, missing the better brakes, missing the carbon fiber driveshaft, and it's 16" wheels make it look a bit out of proportion with more wheel gap than even the stock 18s. For the 2004s and 2005s, it also had the lowest power engine that costs the most to replace and is the most prone to failure from carbon caking, as well as the fewest transmission gear count. It can't really even be referred to as more focused on touring, since it was missing nearly all the driver comfort features too, like leather, heated seats, premium audio, moonroof, etc... Largely, it's recommended to avoid these, since they are likely priced the same as RX-8s with the more desired features, but you get so much less for your money up front, and run a greater risk of repairs, repairs that cost more. The cost of converting a Base Automatic to even a Sport Automatic would be more than the purchase price of the car at this point.
- 2005 Shinka
In 2005, Shinka as a trim was basically a GT with the unique Black Cherry Mica exterior paint, parchment color leather interior, upgraded shocks (Tokicos), and a few minor items like satellight radio, shinier trim around the lights and at places in the interior, dark chrome'ed stock wheels, and a eurethane foam filled front crossmember. There is a specific registry of Shinka production numbers for 2005 here: PDF: 2005 Shinka Production Numbers
- 2006 Shinka
In 2006, the major option packages were converted to official trim levels, and were largely the same. Shinka was retained, however Black Cherry Mica was not. Shinkas could now come in a number of different colors, however of those colors, only Copper Red Mica was available on the Shinka.
- 2007 40th Anniversary
In 2007, Shinka was dropped, however the 40th Anniversary Edition was released for 2007 only. It was very similar as the Shinka of prior years, only a unique Metropolitian Grey Mica color exterior, an orange/brown interior called "Cosmo Red", Bilstein shocks instead of Tokicos, and the 40th AE wheels were a different design that was later re-used for the 2009-2011 R3. All other Shinka special items transfered to the 40th.
- 2009-2011 R3
In 2009, Touring was dropped, and R3 was introduced. R3 was the first significantly different trim produced for the RX-8, including some of the driver features from the GT trim, but not including the main 3 GT items that increase weight. So no leather, no heated seats, and no moonroof. The seats were rather expensive Recaros, and the exterior bodywork was changed rather noticeably from the Sport and GT trims. They also got unique 19" wheels (re-using the same overall look of the 40th AE's 18" wheels), Monotube Bilstein shocks, specific springs, and stiffer sway bars. The R3 was only available in a few colors in each geographical region. The US got Velocity Red Mica, Sparkaling Black Mica, and Aurora Blue Mica. Only Aurora Blue was not available on the GTs and Sports. Canada, Japan, and the UK got Crystal White Pearl R3s, with one of the other colors as well (varies, and I am unsure which countries got which)
Navigation was an option Touring and Grand Touring trim levels, it was not automatically included for either. It was expensive (+$2,000), and not all that good, so it is also fairly rare. Updates are almost non-existant, so about all it's good for now is the motorized hood is popular among people that install tablets or mini-PCs in the hood. If you paid for it brand new, you likely wasted the entire price of adding it.
- Appearance Package
The appearance package for the Series1 includes the front lip and side aero flares. It was not included automatically on any trim, but was an option for all. At a guess I'd say roughly 40% of RX-8s had this installed at the dealer or factory. (total WAG). The appearance package doesn't make any appreciable difference in the drag or downforce of the car.
- Rear Spoiler
It is NOT a wing, it is a spoiler. There is a difference. Wings add downforce and drag, spoilers reduce drag, and sometimes reduce lift ([I]which is the opposite of downforce, and reducing lift doesn't mean increasing downforce[/I]) The rear spoiler was not included automatically on any trim, but was an option for all. The rear spoiler is actually functional, decreasing the coefficient of drag by 0.02.
- Rotary Accents
The rotary accents are silver or chrome plastic inserts that fit on the front and rear rotary symbols that are molded into the bumper. They are rather expensive from a dealer, and they are often lost if the bumper flexes, like slowly bending against a parking curb from mis-judging the distance.