Yeah, I was always taught to keep my hands on the wheel at all times, so I was curious when the 'issue' came up - when I figured out what it was, I just kinda shrugged and thought 'different strokes'.
You've nailed it on the head - the RX-8 was the best handling car in multiple segments, if I recall correctly. One of the road tests on TTAC was basically almost all non-stop praise until the tester looked and saw he was getting 16 MPG, which in all fairness is pretty horrendous.
Still, that's part of the trade-off for the Wankel, eh? Anything with the Renesis isn't going to have beating its competition off the line as an end-all goal, anyway, and besides; it's not like the RX-8 was totally slow, either. It had enough power for its needs, but if you just wanted a straight quarter-mile car there were better options out there.