The 2011 RX-8 is a rear-wheel drive sports coupe powered by a 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine that produces 212 horsepower in vehicles with automatic transmissions and 232 horsepower in RX-8s with manual gearboxes. A limited-slip rear differential is standard on manual-transmission models. In addition to its unique engine design, the RX-8 features larger rear seating than most sports coupes by using a pair of small rearward-opening "freestyle" doors to permit easier access and more legroom for passengers.
The RX-8 was offered in three trim levels for the 2011 model year with automatic transmissions only offered in the base Sport and Grand Touring trims. The Sport trim featured 18-inch wheels, air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system and full power accessories. The Grand Touring trim added several luxury features to the sport including leather upholstery, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, xenon headlights and the limited-slip differential of the manual Sport model on all Grand Touring cars. A touchscreen navigation system was optional. The performance-oriented R3 trim came with the xenon headlights and upgraded audio system of the Grand Touring model, but it dropped many of the other interior upgrades in favor of Recaro sport seats, a more aggressive suspension design and 19-inch wheels.