The Guide to Mazda RX-8 Coilover Upgrades. What the Mazda RX-8 lacks in power, it more than compensates for in handling. The Rx8 is one of the best handling cars on the street and on the track, and was once ranked as a top-10 handling car for under $100,000. However, with a power output of around 185whp, it doesn’t offer much in terms of straight line power. While some simple RX8 bolt-on mods can increase power output to around 210whp, it is still nowhere near straight-line speed.
Suspension mods are some of the best performance mods for the Mazda Rx8 because serious power is expensive. Coilovers are one of the best suspension upgrades for both the street and the track. Coilovers not only allow for ride height adjustment for those seeking stance, but they also improve handling, cornering, and body roll.
Coilover configurations differ depending on your objectives. The best coilovers for your RX-8 are determined by whether you want stance, street performance, or track performance. We’ll go over some key coilover considerations before delving into different coilover options for each goal: stance, street, and track.
Considerations for RX-8 Coilovers
The two most important factors to consider when choosing coilovers are your goals and your budget. However, there are some critical points to consider in terms of design and functionality. Tube design and damping control are two such considerations that we’ll go over in greater detail. Furthermore, we’ll compare RX8 coilovers to lowering springs, as struts/springs are also popular among the RX8 community.
Aside from that, Rx’8 are extremely cheap these days. This is due primarily to their age and the relatively unreliable 13B engines. We’ll go over some low-cost coilover options, but higher-quality street setups will cost $1,000 or more, probably closer to $1,500, and track or drift setups will cost $2,000. Just keep that in mind as you determine which features you require and desire.
Twin-Tube vs. Monotube
This refers to the coilovers’ internal design. We won’t go into specifics, but we will cover the essentials.
Monotube coilovers are more sensitive to small movements, allowing for greater precision and better performance and handling. If you plan on racing your RX8, you should get a set with a monotube design. Because they are more sensitive, they may be slightly less comfortable for street driving, but most monotube coilovers include dampening control, which can help offset this.
Twin-tube coilovers are a low-cost option. They are less precise, which makes them unsuitable for racing. However, more comfortable for street driving. They will provide less performance benefits over stock than monotubes, but this is also reflected in the price, with some twin-tube setups costing about half the price of a monotube setup.
Monotube = higher performance. Twin-tube = economical.
The shocks are referred to as damping/dampening. The shocks are in charge of regulating the compression and rebound of the coil springs. Coilovers come in two varieties: pre-set and adjustable. The compression and rebound are pre-set by the manufacturer to best suit the spring rates and provide a balance of comfort and performance. Adjustable coilovers have 8 to 32 adjustment levels, allowing you to control the rebound and compression. This allows for more control over the ride’s softness and stiffness, as well as fine-tuning for track use. Track-level coilovers also provide independent compression and rebound control, allowing the two to be adjusted independently.
Adjustable dampening is a must-have feature for track cars and advanced-level street cars. This is ideal for street/track hybrids.
Pre-set damping = less expensive option.
Dual/3-way adjustable damping = top-tier performance for dedicated track cars.
Lowering Springs & Struts vs. RX8 Coilovers
Combining a set of Koni Yellow struts with lowering springs is an RX8 community favorite. This can be done for around $550-$600 and provides a significant performance improvement over stock suspension. The Koni’s have adjustable damping and can be used with almost any lowering spring. This is typically regarded as a less expensive alternative to purchasing a set of coilovers with adjustable damping, which can cost $1,000 or more.
The only disadvantage of using struts and springs is that you lose the ability to adjust the height. If you’re looking for performance, this may not be an issue, but if you’re looking for stance, this isn’t an option. Because most people consider coilovers to be overkill for a daily driver or just street use, this is a popular option. However, there are some budget coilover options on the market that are less expensive than Koni’s + springs, albeit with less performance.
Finally, if you want to adjust the ride height, you’ll need coilovers. Coilovers are required if you want stance. If you’re looking for performance on a budget and don’t need to adjust ride height, struts/springs are the way to go.
Koni Yellow’s + Lowering Springs = Performance street “coilover” with damping control on a budget.
Adjustable ride height for stance on a budget = setup #1 below.
Setup #3 is a performance street coilover with ride height adjustment.
Benefits of Mazda RX8 Coilover Upgrade
- Adjustable ride height from 0 to 3 inches
- Better cornering and handling with less body roll
- Ride that is more comfortable
- Adjustable damping
- Excellent replacement for worn stock suspension.
While some may argue that coilovers are overkill for a street car, we believe they are one of the best handling upgrades you can make. A good set of coilovers will outperform Koni springs, albeit at a slightly higher price. Furthermore, given the age of these vehicles, upgrading the stock suspension will provide a significant improvement in handling and performance. With a set of factory struts and springs costing $600 or more, upgrading to coilovers is an excellent alternative to replacing the factory suspension.
Mazda RX8 Coilovers at Their Finest
As previously stated, the term “best” really depends on what you’re looking for. We’ll offer four different setups here: stance, entry level street, performance street/track, and dedicated track. We will do our best to cover all budget options and potential setups based on your objectives.
1) Raceland RX8 Coilovers for Stance and Budget
Tier: Stance and Low-Cost OEM Replacement
1-3′′ reduction in height
Raceland coilovers are our best bang-for-buck option for those looking for stance or a low-cost replacement for their worn factory suspension. These coilovers are unlikely to improve performance over the stock suspension (unless it’s shot), but they do offer great ride height adjustability and a lifetime warranty at an affordable price.
This setup will bring your ride quality as close to stock as possible while also providing slightly better performance when moderately lowered. These are the best coilovers for going slammed or stanced out, though ride quality will suffer when dropped this far, as with any slammed coilover. If you bought a cheap RX8 and just want to lower it or change the stance, this is the way to go. If you’re looking for high-performance street or track coilovers, we recommend moving on to #3.
Overall, this is a great budget option for those who don’t need high performance but still want ride-height adjustability.
2) Street Budget Performance
This category is for those who want a little more street performance than the Raceland but are still on a tight budget. These configurations include damping adjustment for improved ride quality and performance control. Megan Racing’s monotube design features 15-way adjustable dampening. Tein Flexs are twin-tube shock absorbers with a 16-way dampening control. We prefer Megan Racing over Tein Flex because it is less expensive and has a monotube design.
The least expensive option here is Konis with springs, but keep in mind that this does not provide ride height adjustment. The Konis will perform roughly as well as the other options on this list at a slightly lower price point, albeit at the expense of ride height. The only other advantage of this option is that you can select your own springs, allowing you to customize the amount of lowering and spring rates.
Coilovers for the RX8 Street Performance
- Megan Motorsports
- Flexi Tein
- Lowering Springs + Koni Yellows (not height adjustable)
3) Occasional Track & High-Performance Street
This option is for those who are willing to spend a little more for high-performance street vehicles that are also suitable for track use. All of these models are monotubes with adjustable damping and ride height control.
While these are more expensive, they provide the best combination of street performance and quality while also being well equipped for frequent track use. Because the setups can be easily adjusted for comfort and performance, these are ideal for daily drivers and weekend warriors. While some of these options are acceptable for dedicated track cars, we recommend moving on to the next section for those.
High Performance / Track Coilovers for the RX-8
- Slide Control KSport
- BRBC Racing
- XR1 Stance
- The Fortune 500
4) RX8 Track Dedicated Coilovers
When you get past the $2k mark, you start getting into dedicated track setups. These coilovers are all monotube designs as well. One of the most significant differences between them and high performance street coilovers is that they provide 2-way or 3-way control over rebound and compression. The Motons, for example, have 3-way adjustability, allowing for independent adjustment of rebound, low speed bump compression, and high speed bump compression.
These setups are ideal for dedicated track cars because the independent adjustability allows for precise suspension and handling tuning. Motons are completely unnecessary unless you are racing professionally. KW V3s and Ohlins are our favorite budget track setups that can also be used on the street for those who drive and track on a daily basis but don’t want to sacrifice track performance.
RX8 Dedicated Track Coilovers at Their Finest
- KW V3
Summary of RX8 Coilover Upgrades
Overall, coilover selection is primarily determined by your budget and what you intend to do with the vehicle. If you just bought a $3k RX-8 and want to refresh it by lowering it or adding stance, we recommend sticking with a low-cost option like Racelands. While Racelands will not provide a significant performance advantage over stock suspension, they are inexpensive and get about as low as you can go. At the end of the day, unless you require high performance, these coilovers will suffice.
If you’re more concerned with performance and less concerned with stance or ride height, you can go with a set of Koni struts and lowering springs. Get some Megans or Tein Flex if you want more street performance and height control. The next step up is high performance street and track time, which Stance, KSport, and Fortune Auto are our favorites for.
The best dedicated track coilovers for heavy hitters are the KW V3 and Ohlins. Moton’s if you can afford to spend $6k+ on coilovers.