Mazda MX-5 RF Review
Mazda launch a lively addition to their hugely successful MX-5 range.
- Fun to drive
- Decent boot capacity
- Sleek exterior styling
- A lot of cabin noise
Mazda have quite the heritage when it comes to sports cars, the now classic Cosmo Sport from the sixties powered by a rotary engine looked the business. But over recent years it’s the buzz of the MX-5 which has gained the brand more followers.
2015 saw Mazda launch the fourth generation of the MX-5 convertible and the start of 2017 sees the RF Retractable Fastback released for those wanting a hard top, which considering the inclement weather in the UK it’s a good choice.
We took it for a spin on the UK launch on the coastal roads around Devon.
On the Road
It comes with a choice of two petrol engines, a 1.5-litre producing 131PS with 150Nm of torque and has a top speed of 126mph. It’s actually all you need for the car, it does need a bit more oomph on inclines but it’s nippy enough.
A short ratio six-speed manual transmission comes with both engines and for the first time in the UK an automatic transmission is also available for the 2.0-litre which delivers 160PS with 200 Nm of torque and gets from 0 - 62mph in 7.4 seconds. This is likely to be the most popular engine out of the two and it’s also 80 kilograms lighter than the previous generation engine.
If you’re looking for a fun car to drive then this is it. The Mazda MX-5 has always captured petrolhead hearts, it was the UK Car of the Year in 2016 and the RF certainly lives up to the hype of the convertible.
Handling is precise, you can feel confident turning into tight, twisty bends with plenty of feedback through the steering. It feels such a light, agile car, you can really lean on it into corners and it offers phenomenal levels of grip. It really does goad you into pushing it to its limits and it was a joy to drive it on the sweeping roads on Dartmoor.
The ride is what you come to expect from a sporty number, it can feel quite harsh at times crashing over the merest of rough road surfaces.
If you’re looking for a quiet ride then this won’t be the car you’re looking for, it gets very noisy in the cabin from the tyres and wind, the latter seemed to batter through the passenger window. Mazda claim they’ve added more insulation to combat this but on the motorway you really had to raise your voice to have a conversation.
Mazda have designed a little pocket rocket, seeing it out on the roads it’s a cute little roadster; the long, grooved bonnet making it very distinctive, along with its sleek profile.
In the car
Jumping in the driving seat and it’s a neat little cabin, the large air vents and dials dominate the interior along with the protuding 7-inch colour display screen which is operated using a dial down between the seats. DAB radio and Bluetooth come as standard on the entry level SE-L Nav trim which also features LED headlights, cruise control, air-conditioning and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Sport Nav adds heated seats, a rear parking sensor, keyless entry and dusk-sensing lights, while the limited Launch Edition has recaro seats, a twin tone roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and is available in two paint colours, Soul Red and the new Machine Grey.
The seats are comfortable providing plenty of support when you’re pushing it around corners, although they are a bit short in the leg and visibility is a real issue when checking the blindspot as the rear section of the car is in the way.
It is a two seater and although you really do sit very low there is enough leg and head room. Cup holders are situated in the centre just behind driver and passenger and they can cleverly unhook so that the passenger can have their drink by the centre stack.
The roof is electronically opened and shut in 13 seconds of speeds up to 6mph, ideal if you suddenly get stuck in a downpour.
Boot space is a deep 127-litres, suprisingly we got in a case, a rucksack, a handbag and a couple of coats so there’s more room than you think when you lift the boot and the folding roof doesn’t encroach on this space either. Road trip, anyone?
The Mazda MX-5 RF is priced from £22,195 and there’s a Launch Edition, limited to 500 costing £28,995. Not surprisingly these are going like hot cakes with less than half remaining. Extras include £550 for metallic and pearlescent paint and £400 for a Nappa leather trim.
The Mazda MX-5 RF certainly rates highly when it comes to the drive as it’s so much fun and it’s well priced compared to the Toyota GT86 which starts at £26,410.
Running costs are good with the 1.5-litre having a combined 46.3mpg and emitting 142g/km in CO2, with 40.9mpg for the 2.0-litre which also emits 161g/km in CO2, as of of April this year it will cost £200 and £500 respectively in road tax.
Piano black high gloss finishes with soft touch leather on the Launch Edition make it feel like a high quality car, yes there are some plastics that don’t feel as durable, but Mazda have produced a good model.
You can’t fault reliability when it comes to the MX-5, in the past it has been named as Britain’s most reliable car and the previous generations are still hugely popular to buy now. Expect this generation to be just as reliable, Mazda are onto another winner with the MX-5 RF.
The Mazda MX-5 scored four stars in the Euro NCAP tests with 84% for adult protection in 2015.
It comes with front and side airbags which even protect occupants should the roof be down, ISOFIX points on the passenger seat, a tyre pressure monitoring system and the model also features Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technology.
Available on the MX-5 RF is lane departure, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and pedestrians will be protected in a potential collision with the bonnet automatically rising to protect their head.