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The MX-5 is Mazda’s only current sports car, and as always the only convertible in the lineup. Mazda pretty much has the small, lightweight and affordable droptop/sports car market all to itself. With a history of being the bestselling roadster, the new addition of the RF or retractable fastback just made sense. As always MX-5 or Miata as I keep wanting to call it has an excellent power to weight ratio, which has been heightened by the use of premium new aged materials. The use of aluminum and ultra‑high‑tensile steel has shed approximately 20% of the weight of its previous generation model.
Powered by the 2.0 Liter SKYACTIV-G, this naturally aspirated inline-four produces 155hp @6000 rpm. Now while those specs might not be as sexy on paper as the 205hp dished out by the BRZ/86 frankencar, or the 160hp from the very similar Fiat 124. That’s not what this car is about, top speed and acceleration come second to drivability and hugging tight corners. That being said it has an edge on the BRZ/86 by being the lightest in its class and can deliver power more smoothly and on a lower rpm band then its high revving turbo lagging Italian cousin.
Now you don’t sit in a Miata so much as you wear it. As a shorter guy, I had the feeling that if you were taller than six and a half feet you might start feeling like you are in a clown car, and with the roof down, you probably would be more comfortable with your head looking over the windshield instead of through it. Another common complaint from passengers and our other drivers was it felt like your butt was dragging on the ground, and that feeling is justified with only just over a foot of clearance from your backside to the road. Throwing everything the Miata or sorry MX-5 had into some of our back road mountain twists and turns certainly brought a smile to my face, and it made the driving experience quite enjoyable, the small cramped interior threw a wrench into the whole daily driver/year round car plan. Creature comforts are kept to a bare minimum, while it had things like weirdly placed cup holders, and a minuscule space for items like keys and phone, there was a lack of space and places like door pockets or a traditional glove box were nowhere to be found.
The model we’re testing was the Mazda MX-5 RF, and with the whole “being a convertible” as a huge selling point, it was nice to have the option of a mechanically lowered hard top. Cruising around with some beautiful sunshine and warm weather, it was easy to see why people fall in love with a drop top. I expected the hardtop to insulate me better from typical road noises, but while driving the MX-5 around I found myself on more than one occasion checking to make sure the windows were closed due to an incredibly noisy cabin. Also, the RF suffered from some visibility issues due to the impossibly small rear window and thick B-pillars. Backing this small car up also threw me off as normally I would place my arm around the back of the passenger seat to assist in swiveling my body to get a better view out the rear window. However as the MX-5 cabin pretty much ends right behind the seat, this was quite impossible and had me accidentally punching the back window as I attempted to turn my body.
So while the Mazda MX-5 was a fun car to cruise around in the sun, the size and functionality of the vehicle make it just another toy to play with during the summer. Starting at 30k this is one expensive cruiser that I would be fine doing without.