The first 6 months

May16_149_smaller_4a9811e32e078-lightboxI purchased the Rex in February¬†2009 from Church’s Performance Cars. I traded down from a 2008 Focus ST to free up a bit more cash for a house deposit. Whilst driving away in the Mazda with a large cheque in my wallet, I felt like I was ripping them off! It’s an attractive car and a darn sight more special than a Focus could ever be!

The drive back to my parents took in some dual carriageways before a rush hour crawl around the M25 and up the A1M. Christ, it was a bit different to drive! The power delivery is the polar opposite of the Focus and the engine just revs forever. By the time I got home, I knew I’d made a great choice.

Unfortunately, a few months went by where I hardly got to drive the car. I was in my final year of Uni completing my final year project and was swamped with work. Then May came, bringing the prospect of having the summer off. One of the first things I did was purchase a Toyosports ‘ebay special’ exhaust. The standard exhaust sounded far too flat and had no real change in tone through the rev range. The new cat-back certainly fixed that – heaps more character and volume.

As soon as I purchased the car, I joined the RX8 Owners club, and the first meet I attended was Japfest 2009 at Castle Combe. It was my first year at Japfest and I was amazed by two things: the HUGE attendance and the general standard of cars brought by the clubs. Despite some harsh wind and showers, a great day was had by all and I had a good time getting to know the guys & girls from the club.

Later that evening I went and played silly buggers with the South West Pistonheaders in the tunnels and overpasses of Bristol. Again a great turnout with a great variety in cars (Ferrari 348, Ultima GTR, Supercharged C5 Corvette to name a few). I ended up in a mini convoy consisting of myself, an Aston V8 Vantage, the Ultima, and the Ferrari. Needless to say, the Rex was shown up in exhaust note and volume, but out in the country roads outside of Bristol, I had a great laugh keeping up with those boys – a great night.

The biggest test to date came in late May when I went for a 500 mile ‘hoon’ around South Wales. They were roads I knew well from my ST days, so I was interested to see how the Rex got on. In isolation, the Rex can feel lacking in straight line pace, largely thanks to the power delivery. But that day, on a mix of epic A and B roads, 95% of the time I was not left wanting.

A lot is said about the handling advantages of RWD, and the Rex is a great example. Compared to the Focus, itself no slouch in the corners, the steering is more responsive and is full of feel. The front mid-engined layout of the Rex, combined with a great suspension set-up and the LSD at the rear, make a car that is both easy and very rapid to drive in the twisties.

Any downsides? Fuel economy is rubbish! Even driven boringly on a motorway run, I struggle to get over 25mpg. When thrashed, I can average somewhere in the low teens. I wouldn’t recommend the Rex as an only car. I have a little Fiesta for boring day-to-day use that gets twice as far for the money.

For my car at least, oil consumption is only an issue when driven hard for prolonged periods. And besides, how hard is it to check the oil every now and then!?

Finally, what the hell do I replace it with? It really is a unique car and for the money, it has no direct rivals.

I plan to keep the car for another 11-12 months or so, and I’ll keep this journal updated. There are loads more photos available on my Flickr page (linked in my profile)

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Peter Bonnington