Final drive in the Mazda MX-5RF
The Mazda MX-5 soft-top roadster was introduced in 2015 and debuted Mazda’s striking ‘Kodo’ design language for the little sportscar. The MX-5 is one incredibly popular little car and has been since its introduction in 1989. It is considered to be one of the best handling vehicles of all time. Mazda has removed it from the local line-up as the focus is on crossovers and SUV’s. We had one last go in the RF model, here is what it was like.
MX-5 RF (retractable fastback) is a hard-top convertible offering slightly different styling to the soft-top and is available only as a 6-speed automatic and without the mechanical limited-slip differential. The new roof design and the auto transmission add 40 kgs over the now-defunct roadster and the suspension has been tweaked for a softer ride. This has detracted from that iconic enthusiastic driving experience that made the car so popular.
Underneath the bonnet, the 2.0-litre engine is highly responsive and surprisingly torquey for a naturally aspirated motor. It’s, however, not the sort of drivetrain you gently lean on to make progress as you would in a turbocharged car. Peak power of 118kW is made available at 6 000rpm but with Sport mode engaged the transmission will allow you to push to 6 800rpm. Once you realize that the car is not the fastest thing on four wheels, you can actually enjoy the experience. You can push the car hard and it returns a relatively fun driving experience. The soft suspension is not very sporty if we are honest and the body roll is fairly excessive but the MX-5 rewards you with a sense of balance and loads more grip than the chassis needs.
The interior is a bit tight but there is a sporty feel from behind the wheel. Mazda has been using decent materials in their cars of late. This includes quality fit and finish, a large infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. There is also a clutter-free facia which reduces your need to fiddle with controls. One thing that we did notice though is that there is very little storage space inside the cabin.
The MX-5 RF package is not ideal but it still deserves its place in the local sportscar world as we simply cannot find another fun-spirited rear-driven convertible for the money. Are we sad to see it go? Yes, we are, however, the world has moved on and cars like this are just not the cash cows that they used to be, you, the buying public want crossovers, you want SUV’s and with a push for electric alternatives the little sportscar that changed the world has no place in the world anymore. It’s a pity however we will never forget our last drive in this little icon.