Lots has been said about the Mazda MX-5 Miata you can even find my review here. The MX-5 is now in its 30th year, and over the course of four generations, the two-seat roadster hasn’t changed all that much. In its latest form it comes with a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated I4 engine pushing out a modest 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The RF comes with a power-folding hardtop instead of the regular Miata fabric top. It also has fixed buttresses positioned behind each passenger, giving the RF a distinct coupe- or targa-like look instead of the regular Miata’s traditional roadster profile.
The MX-5 Miata RF differs from the original ethos because weight and complexity are two things the Miata purposely stays away from, yet the RF adds both of them into the equation. Now onto the roof, let’s be honest here it looks stunning. The Miata RF is so much more than a good looker. It still has the same spunkiness, liveliness, and sharp handling that we’ve all come to love about the Miata.
The Miata has never been about power above all else, but that doesn’t mean the Mazda is a slouch. The engine was re-tuned for 2019, adding 26 more horsepower and 3 more pound-feet of torque, with a 7,500-rpm redline, this also means 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8. The gearing was changed slightly, too, for a quicker off-the-line experience. This six-speed manual transmission goes into gear with a satisfying thwok, the throttle is responsive under my right foot, with linear power delivery, and the Brembo brakes offer firm, solid stopping power. All of this means the driver gets a better sense of what the car is doing, and I just feel so much more in control.
The Miata RF displays the same immediate steering response as its soft top siblings. It also rides firmly, thanks to its sporty suspension tune and short wheelbase. The 50/50 weight distribution helps with overall handling, as do the sticky, Bridgestone Potenza tires. Driving in the twisties, the Miata won’t win any straight-line speed contests, but it certainly holds its own against higher horsepower cars. Although the more enclosed RF costs between $2555 and $2755 more than the roadster, depending on the model, it remains the Miata to buy for commuting duty. The Miata RF has some shortcomings that it shares with soft top Miatas like the lack of headroom for tall drivers, minimal space inside to store things, and a small five-cubic-foot trunk.
Mazda Connect isn’t the most up to date infotainment system, housed on a 7-inch screen that you can only work by touch when the car is stopped. Embedded navigation is only standard on the top two trims, and you can only get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto factory-installed on the sold-out 30th Anniversary trim. Thankfully, it isn’t all bad news, because your Mazda dealer will install both CarPlay and Android auto in your car for $199 plus labor. This is obviously not ideal, but it should not be a dealbreaker.
As far as the competition goes, there isn’t really anything else in the two-seat, rear-wheel-drive convertible segment for under $35,000. Yes, you can look at the Mazda MX-5 Miata based Fiat 124 Spider, but well it is the same thing so why bother. In reality the Miata’s closest competitors are the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 brothers, which follow the same low-weight/low-power/excellent-handling ethos.
When you sum up the Miata I put it like this it has no gimmicks, when I am behind the wheel of a Miata, it is just me, the car and the open road. It’s easily accessible, supremely enjoyable, and an absolute treasure in today’s world of overly complicated, overly powerful cars. Do you really need anything else or as the owners suggest Miata stands for Miata Is Always The Answer.