The Mazda MX-5 RF GT is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. The most obvious of course is the joy experienced while driving with the top down in a cute little sports car, but this is just the beginning.
The ‘RF’ designates that the MX-5 I drove had a retractable hard top roof, which I prefer over the soft top available on the Roadster MX-5 variants. To drop the roof you simply press a button on the dash and when the roof is fully lowered a message appears on the digital display to the left hand side of the driver’s dash advising that the operation is complete.
With the roof down and driving at 100km/h there was some wind buffeting around my head, but hardly any within the cabin. Mazda have thought about this though with the integration of speakers in the head rests, so you can hear the radio or carry on a conversation on your Bluetooth phone connection.
Depress your left foot on the light clutch to engage first gear on the 6-speed manual transmission and point the MX-5 towards your favourite driving road and you will understand completely why I found this little rear-wheel drive sports car to be so much fun. The gearbox offers short-throw changes and I was able to nimbly navigate the box while driving some of my favourite hill-climb routes.
The 2.0 litre, four cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol engine produces a modest 135kW and 205Nm of torque, but this is more than enough to have you grinning from ear to ear as the MX-5 weighs just 1,107kg and has perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
Another energising feature of the MX-5 was that the exhaust note is all-natural with nothing fake about it, something you will enjoy this as the engine enthusiastically revs out to its 7,500rpm red line. Chasing the higher revs on the centrally mounted analogue taco is a must because the maximum power comes at 7,000rpm. The higher revs meant I didn’t achieve the claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.9 l/100km, with my figure being 10.6L/100km.
Even under hard acceleration and pushing into the corners the MX-5 did not get phased and I never felt that the MX-5 was going to spit me off into the bush at the prod of the accelerator. I found the ride to be comfortable, which is good because you do not get any adjustment through drive mode selections; there is only one mode available and it is labelled ‘fun’!
The seats in my MX-5 were Burgundy Nappa leather and could be manually adjusted for forward/back and recline; with the driver getting additional front height manual adjustment. They are also heated, which is something you will want to have if you are enjoying top-down driving on those crystal clear, blue sky winter’s days. Overall I would have liked a little more contouring and side support from the seats, but they were comfortable enough.
The leather steering wheel is thin, but feels lovely to hold and the wheel-mounted controls are logically laid out. The voice control button is designated by a masculine looking silhouette and its functionality worked well for me for making calls, but it did not want to set a destination on the sat nav.
There’s a 7-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can enjoy your tunes through the Premium Bose 203 watt amplifier with nine speakers. The other media sources available include AM/FM radio, DAB+, Bluetooth, USB and internet radio integration with Aha and Stitcher.
Cabin storage is limited in this sports car; it’s so small that even the transmission tunnel protrudes into the foot well on both sides. There is a lockable storage cubby between the two seats, which is large enough for a clutch or purse. Behind the driver’s left elbow there is one cup holder and in front of this near the manual handbrake is a small cubby in the centre console that is large enough for your sunglasses. At the front of the centre console is a cubby for your phone that has a non-slip base and two USB ports and one AUX inlet. The second cup holder awkwardly mounted on the passenger side of the centre console.
There is no glovebox or any storage cubbies in the doors either. The boot is large enough to carry enough luggage for a weekend away, if you can pack lightly and with soft bags. My weekly shop quickly filled the boot though, so the remainder of my shopping had to go on the passenger seat.
Being the MX-5 is so small and low to the ground I did feel a bit vulnerable on the road when I was driving it. Driver safety aids include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, Smart City Brake Support (Forward & Reverse), traffic sign recognition, and lane departure warning. One annoying thing though was the lane departure warning could not be turned off and even on the lowest volume setting it was still audible. The MX-5 has a 5-star ANCAP (2016) safety rating and comes with four airbags (front and side driver and passenger). You also get a standard rear view camera with reverse parking sensors and standard cruise control as well.
All new Mazda vehicles are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus five year’s Mazda Premium Roadside Assistance. The service intervals for the MX-5 are every 12 months or 10,000kms, whichever comes first. Using the Mazda website I calculated the cost for the first five basic services on the MX-5 would cost $1,750.
Mazda Australia recently announced the introduction of the Mazda MX-5 GT RS models, which are designed to appeal to driving enthusiasts. They add a Brembo brake package and a high-performance brake pad specification that offers stronger pedal feedback while improving fade resistance by 26 per cent. All-up, the Brembo front brake package reduces unsprung mass by 2kg, improving every aspect of the MX-5 GT RS’s handling dynamics.
For increased road presence and further weight reduction, the Mazda MX-5 GT RS models also feature a specific 17-inch forged alloy wheel design by renowned high-end wheel manufacturer, BBS. These are fitted with Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres, measuring 205/45/R17.
These upgrades are paired with sophisticated Bilstein gas-pressurised dampers that are designed to deliver track-ready grip and feedback, while still smoothing off the sharpest road edges in day-to-day driving. Under the bonnet of the RS models there is a solid alloy strut tower brace, linking the front suspension struts for improved rigidity and steering response.
Wireless Apple CarPlay has been added as standard equipment to all models, connecting seamlessly to the 7.0-inch touchscreen MZD Connect Display. The revised pricing sees the MX-5 RF GT with a black roof and manual transmission increase to $49,120 plus on-road costs. The options fitted to the MX-5 reviewed here include Polymetal grey metallic paint ($495) and floor mats ($186.23).
In a year as complicated as 2020, it was refreshing to drive a car as uncomplicated and enjoyable as the Mazda MX-5. I suggest you visit your preferred Mazda dealer to have some zoom zoom fun with the MX-5 for yourself.
|The engine and gearbox||Lack of storage|
|Retractable hard top roof||Seats need more side support|
|Speakers in the head rests||Can’t turn off lane departure warning|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.