Mazda RX8 Coilover Upgrade Guide

Mazda RX-8 Coilover Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

What the Mazda RX-8 lacks in power, it makes up for in handling. Once ranked a top-10 handling car for under $100k, the RX-8 is one of the best handling cars on the street and on the track. However, coming in around 185whp, it certainly doesn’t offer much in the form of straight line power. While some simple RX8 bolt-on mods can bump power output up to around 210whp it is still far from straight-line fast.

With serious power being expensive for the RX-8, some of the best performance mods are suspension mods. One of the best suspension mods for both the street and track are coilovers. Coilovers not only provide ride height adjustability for those looking for stance but also improve handling and cornering and reduce body roll.

Mazda RX8 Coilover Upgrade Guide

Coilover Considerations

When you are selecting coilovers the two most important factors are your goals and your budget. However, there are some important things to consider with respect to the design and functionality themselves. Tube design and damping control are two of such considerations that we’re going to cover in more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss RX-8 coilovers vs lowering springs as a set of struts/springs is also popular amongst the RX-8 community.

On another note, RX-8s are extremely cheap nowadays. This is mostly due to their age and relatively unreliable 13B engines. We are going to mention some budget coilover options but higher quality street setups are going to run $1,000+ and likely closer to the $1,500 mark and track or drift setups will run $2k+. Just keep that in mind as you decide which features you need and want.

Monotube or Twin-Tube

This refers to the internal engineering of the coilovers. We aren’t going to get into the details but we will hit the important parts.

Monotube coilovers are more sensitive to small movements which makes them more precise and offer better performance and handling. If you ever track your RX-8, you want to get a set with a monotube design. They can be slightly less comfortable for street driving since they are more sensitive but most monotube coilovers come with dampening control which can help offset this.

Twin-tube coilovers are a budget-friendly option. They are less precise which means they aren’t great for the track. However, they are a bit more comfortable for street driving. They are going to offer less performance benefits over stock than monotube’s but that is also reflected in the price with some twin-tubes costing about half of what a monotube setup would.

Higher performance = monotube. Budget friendly = twin-tube.

Damping Control

Damping/dampening refers to the shocks. The shocks are responsible for controlling the compression and rebound of the coil springs. Coilovers have two options: pre-set or adjustable. Pre-set means that the manufacturer presets the compression and rebound to best suit the spring rates and provide a balance between comfort and performance.

Adjustable coilovers come with 8 to 32 different adjustment levels that allow you to control the rebound and compression. This allows more control over the softness and stiffness of the ride and allows for fine-tuning for track purposes. Track-level coilovers also offer independent compression and rebound control so that the two can be adjusted independent of each other.

Adjustable dampening = a must for track cars and advanced-level street cars. Great for street/track hybrids.

Pre-set damping = budget friendly option.

Dual/3-way adjustable damping = top of the line, for dedicated track cars.

RX-8 Coilovers vs. Lowering Springs & Struts

An RX-8 community favorite is combining a set of Koni Yellow struts with a set of lowering springs. This can be done for about $550-$600 and offers a good performance boost over stock suspension. The Koni’s have adjustable damping and work with just about any lowering springs. This is usually considered the budget alternative to getting a set of coilovers with adjustable damping which is going to run $1k+.

The only downside to going for a set of struts and springs is that you don’t get the height adjustability. If you are looking for performance then this might not matter, but if you are looking for stance then this isn’t really an option. Most people consider coilovers a bit overkill for a daily driver or just street use which is why this is a popular option. However, there are some budget coilover options available on the market that are cheaper than Koni’s + springs, albeit they don’t offer as much performance.

Ultimately, if you need ride height adjustability then you need coilovers. If you want stance then you need coilovers. If you are chasing performance on a budget and don’t need to adjust ride height then a set of struts/springs is the best.

Performance street “coilover” with damping control on a budget = Koni Yellow’s + Lowering Springs.

Ride height adjustability for stance on a budget = setup #1 below.

Performance street coilover with ride height adjustability = setup #3 below.

Mazda RX8 Coilover Upgrade Benefits

  • Adjustable ride height from approx. 0-3″
  • Improved handling and cornering with less body roll
  • More comfortable ride
  • Damping adjustability
  • Good replacement for worn stock suspension

While some say coilovers might be overkill for a street car, we think they are one of the best handling mods you can make. A good set of coilovers will perform better than Koni’s with springs albeit at a slightly higher price point. Additionally, with the age of these cars now upgrading the stock suspension is going to provide a very noticeable improvement to handling and performance. With a set of factory struts and springs costing $600+, upgrading to coilovers is a fantastic option instead of replacing the factory suspension.

Best Mazda RX-8 Coilovers

As we mentioned above, the term “best” really depends on what you are looking for. We are going to provide 4 different setups here: stance, entry level street, performance street/track, and dedicated track. We are doing our best to cover all budget options and potential setups based on what your goal is.

1) Raceland RX8 Coilovers

Tier: Stance & Budget OEM Replacement
Price: $439
Lowering: 1-3″

Raceland coilovers are our bang-for-the-buck option for people looking for stance or a cheap option to replace their worn factory suspension. These coilovers likely won’t provide a ton of performance benefits over the stock suspension (unless it’s shot) but provide great ride height adjustability and come with a lifetime warranty at an exceptional price.

This setup is going to make your ride quality closest to stock level and offer a bit better performance when lowered moderately. These are the best coilovers for going slammed or stanced out, although ride quality won’t be fantastic when dropped this far, as is true with any coilover when slammed. If you’ve picked up a cheap RX-8 and are just looking for some general lowering or stance, this is the way to go. If you are looking for high-performance street or track quality coilovers then we suggest skipping down to #3.

Overall, this is a great budget option for those who aren’t looking for high performance and but want ride-height adjustability on a budget.

2) Budget Street Performance

This category is for the folks looking for a bit more street performance than the Raceland’s but still trying to do it on a budget. These setups include damping adjustability for more ride quality and performance control. The Megan Racing option is a monotube design with 15-way adjustable dampening. Tein Flex’s are twin-tubes and offer 16-way dampening control. At a cheaper price with a monotube design, we prefer Megan Racing over the Tein Flex option.

The most budget option here is Koni’s with springs but keep in mind this does not provide ride height adjustability. The Koni’s will performance just about as well as the other options on this list at a slightly lower price point, albeit at the sacrifice of ride height. The only other positive to this option is that you can choose your own springs which allows you to pick the lowering amount and spring rates.

Rx8 Street Performance Coilovers

  • Megan Racing
  • Tein Flex
  • Koni Yellows + Lowering Springs (not height adjustable)

3) High-Performance Street & Occasional Track

This option is for people willing to spend a little bit more for high performance street options that are also good for track use. These options are all monotube designs with adjustable damping and ride height control.

While these come in closer to the $1,500 range, they offer the best combination of street performance and quality while being well equipped for frequent track use. The adjustability makes these great for cars that are daily drivers and weekend warriors as the setups can easily be adjusted for comfort and performance. While you can get away with some of these options for dedicated track cars, we recommend stepping down to the next section for those.

RX-8 High Performance / Track Coilovers

  • KSport Slide Kontrol
  • BC Racing BR
  • Stance XR1
  • Fortune Auto 500

4) Dedicated Track Coilovers

Once you break past the $2k price point you start getting into dedicated track setups. These coilovers are also all monotube designs. One of the biggest differences however compared to the high performance street coilovers is that they offer 2-way or 3-way control over rebound and compression. The Moton’s for example have 3-way adjustability allowing for rebound, low speed bump compression, and high speed bump compression to all be adjusted independently.

These setups are top notch for dedicated track cars since the independent adjustability allows for precise tuning of the suspension and handling. Moton’s are absolutely overkill unless you are professionally racing. KW V3’s and Ohlins are our favorite track setup for the budget conscious and can also be used on the streets for those that daily drive and track but don’t want to sacrifice track performance.

Best RX8 Dedicated Track Coilovers

  • KW V3
  • Ohlins
  • Moton

RX-8 Coilover Upgrade Summary

Overall, coilover selection depends mostly on your budget and what you intend to do with the car. If you just picked up a $3k RX-8 and you are trying to refresh it a bit and lower it or add some stance then we recommend sticking with a budget option like Racelands. While Racelands won’t provide a huge performance benefit over the stock suspension they are budget friendly and get about as low as you can go. At the end of the day unless you need high performance these coilovers are going to be everything you need.

If you are looking more for performance and don’t care about stance or ride height as much then you can opt for a set of Koni struts and lowering springs. If you want more street performance and height control then get some Megan’s or Tein Flex. A step up from here is high performance street and occasional track time for which Stance, KSport, and Fortune Auto are our favorites.

And for the heavy hitters, KW V3 and Ohlins are the best-dedicated track coilovers. Moton’s if you can fathom spending $6k+ on coilovers.

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