The fans of Japanese cars know the RX-8 very well. In the early 2000s, it was one of the most iconic vehicles across the globe. Sadly, Mazda discontinued it in 2012 after failing to meet the EU emission standards and a drop in sales in Asia. However, just like its “big brother”, the RX-7 model, it’s still very popular, especially among race drivers. This is a compact, RWD model with decent power output.
It can’t compete with the newer sports cars, though, especially when it comes to acceleration, fuel efficiency, and that raw power. Now for the good part: while the Best cold air intake for Mazda RX-8 won’t turn it into a rocket, it will introduce a lot of positive changes to the powertrain. So, join me, and let’s check out the worthiest offers!
Best Cold Air Intake for Mazda RX-8 (Updated March, 2023)
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Best Cold Air Intake for Mazda RX-8 Review
1. AEM – Best Cold Air Intake for Mazda RX-8
First up, we’ve got an all-around solid air kit from AEM. It was specifically designed for Mazda’s RX-8 and is available in four different color combinations, with the polished one being the most expensive option. Speaking of the price, it’s this product’s biggest downside. So, if you’re on a limited budget, this will probably not be the smartest investment for you. On the bright side, folks with thick wallets should appreciate all the strong sides of this cold air intake.
Most importantly, it features low-restriction aluminum tubing. The tube is mandrel-bent, manufactured from the ground up to improve the overall performance of the engine. It was pre-tuned and dyno-tested to achieve the best possible results on the race track. Add a powder-coated heat shield and a high-flow, synthetic filter (cleanable and reusable), and you’ll see why the steep price is justified.
Available in different colors, packed with a premium-quality mandrel-bent tube, and protected by a high-grade heat shield, the AEM air kit is a bargain. The reusable filter is very easy to clean, too. However, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny for this air intake system, as it’s not particularly cheap.
2. K&N – Best Performance Air Intake for Mazda RX-8
You’ve probably heard of this company even if you’re not a big fan of replacement air kits. They’ve got a strong presence on the market, thanks to a stellar reputation and premium-quality gear. With this cold air intake, you’ll get a guaranteed improvement of uphill, off-the-line, and towing performance. Now, while most RX-8 owners don’t really like to haul anything, you most certainly will appreciate the boost in uphill performance when “climbing” a steep road.
It’s also important to mention the larger-than-average air filter that ensures optimal airflow and prevents contaminants from damaging the engine. I did, however, notice a minor loss of low-end torque, in contrast to the added efficiency on higher revs. And what about the installation process – can the average driver handle it? The answer is yes, they can because the K&N kit will be a bolt-on, OEM type of installation.
The fast, hassle-free installation and the “all-inclusive” increase of performance make the K&N air intake a decent option for the RX-8. It’s got an oversized filter and a powerful intake tube. Together, they greatly outperform the factory system and make sure the engine delivers its a-game.
3. aFe – Best Mazda RX-8 Cold Air Intake
The first thing that’ll probably catch your attention is the somewhat bold design – it looks pretty great in Mazda’s engine compartment. The engineers specifically chose this design to make the cold air intake as effective as possible. As a result, it’s a perfect match for the RX-8. You won’t have to do any tuning, calibration, or anything like that after the installation. Just hit the gas pedal, and that’s it!
Another big pro of this unique design: it gives a significant boost to the throttle response, making the car start faster. Improved acceleration is one of those things that most sports car owners dream of. Well, you’ll get exactly that with aFe! My only complaint has to do with the delivery times. Some buyers claim shipment takes too long, especially in the farther corners of the US.
Despite the minor delivery issues, the aFe cold air intake system is a worthy investment. It rocks a trendy design, fits the RX-8 like a glove, and improves the throttle response, making the car accelerate faster.
4. S&T Racing – Best Cold Air Intake for Mazda RX-8 1.3L
Moving on with my list of the finest aftermarket air kits, let’s take a closer look at S&T Racing. While this brand isn’t nearly as popular as, say, K&N or aFe, it does have a couple of trumps up its sleeve. Most importantly, it’s one of the least expensive replacement cold air intake systems out there and appeals to a long list of drivers on a tight budget. Secondly, it’s covered by a 60-day factory warranty that protects the buyer from manufacturing defects.
In addition, the package includes premium-quality hardware for installation. I’m talking about silicone couplers, high-grade hoses, stainless steel washers, bolts, and more. They will serve for a very long time and prevent any “wobbling” of the kit. On the downside, while most racers like their cars to be as loud as possible, some drivers might find the roaring tones a bit too loud. Ultimately, it’s a subjective thing.
If you’re looking for a decent-quality, yet affordable third-party air kit, put S&T on your list. It tends to get a bit too loud at higher RPMs, but that’s well-compensated by the low price, generous warranty, and top-notch installation hardware that you’ll get as a part of the package.
5. R&L Racing – Best Cold Air Intake for Mazda RX8 to Increase Horsepower
The final stop for today is an air kit crafted by R&L Racing. It’s got a pretty “tanky” design that allows it to keep the air cool for a long time. This is achieved through the top-shelf heat shield. The intake tube, air filter, and installation hardware are also of the highest quality. The package, in turn, includes a detailed user guide that will help with the installation process (which is pretty simple and straightforward).
Speaking of the package, this cold air intake arrives in a protective box. And, the company is very fast with the deliveries – you won’t have to wait for weeks for the gear to arrive. So, yes, overall, the R&L Racing air intake kit is a solid choice for RX-8 drivers. Keep in mind, however, that it is not CARB-compliant and can’t be legally bought or used in the state of California.
Quick shipment-delivery, high-quality components (housing, intake tube, and air filter), and decent performance on various terrain turn the R&L Racing kit into a must-have. The intake is not street-legal in CA, though, but that’s the only significant con.
Cold air intakes come in all shapes and sizes. How do you sort through the “jungle” of air kits and find the perfect fit for the RX-8? I’ve got good news for you: if you read this guide thoroughly and follow my tips and tricks, you’ll master the art of picking the right kit for your vehicle. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so, let’s go ahead and see what’s what!
Pricing: the Golden Middle
The RX-8 is a relatively older nameplate, but there are literally dozens of brands crafting cold air intakes for it. So, the #1 thing to decide will be your budget for the gear. If you’ve got 100-300 US dollars to spare, I salute you, because that’s the “sweet” spot for air kits. This price range offers some of the most reliable, durable, efficient, and user-friendly intakes. Performance-oriented designs, high-grade materials, and superb engineering will be a part of the deal.
Moving up the “ladder”, we’ve got the $300-500 category. The big question here – is a 500-dollar unit worth it, or not? Well, with it, you’ll get a generous warranty deal (it will probably include a 30-day refund + a 2-year standard quality guarantee). On top of that, premium-quality intakes are crafted from even more expensive materials and are usually vehicle-specific for utmost efficiency.
As for the 100-150-dollar price range, it’s still pretty decent, but will provide only a mild boost in HP, torque, and acceleration. The $50-100 range, in turn, should only be considered if it’s just an intake tube, with no filters, housing, or even installation hardware. My advice to you: go with the $100-300 air kits, and you won’t be disappointed.
Do you know why the stock cooling system isn’t on par with aftermarket gear? Because of the restrictive air intake tube, of course. It’s simply not as effective, especially when the engine is pushed to the limit and getting dangerously close to overheating. Top-notch tubing will increase the airflow by up to 40-50%, keeping the temps in the engine bay at normal operational levels for the motor.
Now, the best tubes are mandrel-bent, implement a performance-oriented design, and are manufactured from the finest types of aluminum. T-6061, for example, is considered to be a market leader. It is flexible, durable, lightweight, and protected against rust. Stainless steel is also a decent option, along with high-grade plastic. In most cases, engineers go for a mix of aluminum and plastic – this combo has proven to be cost-efficient and reliable.
Housing is another important component of any cold air intake system. Basically, it’s a big box that accommodates the intake tube and the filter. Also known as the heat shield, it’s got two purposes: to keep the hot engine air at bay and to prevent the cold air generated by the tube from running away. Make sure the housing is powder-coated; otherwise, it will be taken over by corrosion.
This can be very hard to see with a naked eye, but the road is full of potentially dangerous contaminants for the engine. Debris, sand, dust, and even pollen “sneak” through the front bumper, grille, hood, and find their way into the motor. Over time, they can cause a lot of damage to the engine and make it overheat. This problem can be eliminated, though, if you’ve got a proper air filter installed.
The factory cooling system is usually equipped with paper filters that are pretty weak against the most aggressive contaminants. Aftermarket units, in contrast, are almost twice as effective, thanks to the 3- or 5-layer design and the usage of high-grade materials.
Well, there you have it – the best replacement intake systems for the RX-8. As we learned today, a high-quality air kit can greatly improve Mazda’s performance in pretty much every direction. I’m confident that you’ll find the perfect fit for your RX-8 on the comparison table. If you’re on a tight budget, pay extra attention to the S&T Racing intake – it is very affordable.
Or, if you’ve got some bucks to spare, go with AEM. This is a rather expensive kit but does compensate with a long list of pros. If you’re a bit hesitant and want to choose on your own, the Buyer’s Guide will help you in that. Once you learn your way around third-party intake tubes, filters, and heat shields, it will be much easier to find the right pick.