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Consumer Reviews for the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

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4.8 out of 5 stars37 Reviews
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5 out of 5 stars

Drive It Like You Stole It

scmtbdoon, 01/16/2020
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I own a 2019 MX-5 RF. I never considered a soft top to be practical enough for my daily driver. The MX-5 isn’t really that practical (like a Mazda3 hatch), but it is practical enough - it is weather tight and holds my gear. The new 181 hp engine with 7500 rpm redline also provides broader horsepower and torque bands – and a wailing good time! There is a reason that Porsche sells … Boxters and Caymans. They have shown there is a market for a soft and hard top version of basically the same car. Porsche has also shown there is a market for both automatic and manual transmissions in sports cars. It increases the overall sales volume and amortizes the cost of development over more units. This makes a 2 seat vehicle (that appeals to a small fraction of buyers) a more commercially viable proposition. Mazda is trying to do the same thing, at less than half the price. And unlike the more insulated / isolated Boxter and Cayman the MX-5 can be wrung-out at less than lethal speeds. My 2019 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring Retractable Fastback has a 6 speed automatic. It stays in automatic when traffic is stop and go. But 99% of the time I drive it in the manual shift gate for more control on curves and grades. I prefer slap-shifting the stick, but the paddles are just as fast. Stomp the gas pedal and it instantly kicks down 2 gears to pass. You can bounce it off the 7500 rpm rev-limiter and it will not shift up. It will shift down automatically – but only as the car rolls to a stop. Every up-shift is a speed shift because you never take your foot off the gas. No power pause between gears. It looks great with the top up or down. So much control and feedback to all your senses. Bashing about on mountain 2 lane it makes you feel like you are going fast even at 45 mph. With the top down, you hear the engine, smell the forest, feel the air rush over the car body, feel the road condition through the steering wheel, the suspension and the brakes. All responses are instantaneous, precise and linear – whether turning the steering wheel, pressing the gas pedal, down shifting or applying the brakes. The steering is very precise, with immediate turn-in. You can place the car exactly where you want it with no steering correction. Good torque as low as 2500 rpm with great torque from about 3500 to 7000 rpm. And it sounds strong and smooth all the way to redline. In the RF, with the top down and windows up with temperatures in the low 40s you’ll be nice and warm without a jacket or sweater. EPA says the automatic is more gas-frugal than the manual. Professional reviewers report that 0-60 mph is only about 0.2 seconds slower than the manual – around 6.0 to 6.5 seconds depending on how much you are abusing the engine and transmission. Head into a posted 30 mph bend at 45, down shift into 2nd gear and start applying gas as you reach the apex. No brakes, just exhaust note as the auto-box does a rev matching down shift, then momentum into apex and 3 seconds of 2nd gear acceleration before entering the next bend. You’ll be grinning, with no hooligan stunts required – just fast (almost legal) snaking through the S-bends. You’re going 30-60 mph but it feels faster and way-more-fun than a heavier more powerful car. At 70 mph in 6th gear with the top up the engine and tire noise are not intrusive. You can have a conversation in fairly normal tones. The head rest speakers and speed sensitive volume adjustment work quite well to deliver good sound. As a daily driver, your size matters. At 5’-10” / 165 lbs. I am 3 notches from maximum seat travel and find the seats very comfortable and supportive – no sliding around, even without huge side bolsters. I have plenty of room for my U.S. size 9.5 feet and my knees don't touch the steering wheel, center console or door. However, at 6’-2” or 200+ lbs. you might have issues. Cockpit storage is small and not very convenient. The (extra cost) Mazda cargo net is about $40 on the web and a Rubber Maid bin from the hardware store is around $20. Both will add flexibility when finding a home for your stuff – and when quickly emptying the trunk so you can go to the supermarket for 3 bags of groceries. The new telescoping steering wheel will help you find a good seat position. The 4.5 cubic ft. trunk is small, but deep and well-shaped. However, the opening is fairly small. Definitely take your “gear” to the dealership and give the trunk and the cockpit cubbies a fit-test when you go for a test drive. There is no jack and no spare tire – just a compressor that runs off the car battery and injects magic goo into the tire. If you use the compressor and goo I believe you may be buying at least one new tire, and possibly a set of 4 (if the surviving 3 are visibly worn). This wake-up call from my long-time Michelin tire store. So keep your mobile phone charged and use the free 3 year Mazda roadside assistance to have the car hauled to the tire store so the flat can be patched!
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