Mazda MX-5

True to its legend, Mazda’s agile little MX-5 RF still a capable and rewarding driving tool

First impressions of the Mazda MX5 RF were that it’s a fair compromise to the classic old soft top. This one has a targa roof that slips away behind a new roll hoop at the touch of a button. It certainly has a place.

So we were interested to learn that RF is not a compromise after all. It replaced the manual soft-top on the local market. We’d prefer the choice, to be honest. And we’d likely opt for the classic original, given the choice. Not that it makes much difference. You hardly notice the hoop behind you and were you to flip it with the top down, God forbid, you’re far better off in this one.


For the rest, MX-5 RF’s toy-like character keeps it true to the great original. Unlike its many traditional small sportscar rivals that have bloated on all fronts over the years, the Mazda sticks to its roots to retain a special place in every car lover’s heart. It’s a surprisingly capable little driver’s car.

It’s Great looking little car that pops in this metallic white paint. Slimmed down. MX-5 rides on a shorter wheelbase and is lower and lighter, with a lower its centre of gravity too. It even looks smaller and trimmer.

It’s still a challenge for the bigger-boned among us clamber into and out of the MX-5 with the roof in place though. The small, low door opening and a bump on the driver’s side transmission tunnel adds a further conundrum too. It’s not quite as cramped as its dimensions suggest though. You now sit lower, can recline more and there’s a tad more headroom too. The taller among us could however not shove the seat far back enough to be as comfortable as they’s like.


Once aboard however, that tightness doesn’t really disrupt the experience. MX-5 RF has fantastic quality cabin in typical Mazda style. You feel cocooned in the drivers seat and the infotainment system is easy to use.

Visibility is also good even with those large B-pillars, because you sit so close to the rear window. So much so that a reversing camera is not really necessary. Nit-picking a bit, volume button is too far back in the centre console — one needs to drive your elbow back into the makeshift cupholders to twist it. But the holders are removable and there’s still the volume button on the steering, too.

It’s easy and fun to drive as you can imagine, with a surprisingly comfortable ride. It’s effortless too, and really nice to cruise in. That ride comfort and a taut, tight feel befitting its low centres of mass, axis and rotation, however comes at the expense of body roll. Considering it’s a sports car we’d rather they leaned towards a bit more of a balance between the two.


Still, the MX-5 is well balanced up to the point where it loses traction. Even then, it drifts steadily and is easy to catch, it’s responsive steering quick to reward the deft touch.

The local MX-5 gets a 118 kW 2-litre four-pot, rather than the Euro 1.5-litre Skyactiv engine. It has a long rev range with an enticing power band, but it could do with a little more power. And a soundtrack befitting the rest of that promise.

The Mazda MX5 is still however a toy inevitably bound to be a well-heeled owner’s second ride or a footloose and fancy-free youngster or empty nester’s daily driver. It’s a fun little sports car — if you’re not too tall you’ll really enjoy your time in this car, regardless of the stereotypes. It comes with a few compromises but at the end of the day it’s effortless, comfortable and fun daily driver sports car. With a few modifications it would be fantastic!

Either way, the Mazda MX-5 offers great appeal, pedigree and heritage in a truly fun car to drive. – Mario & Giordano Lupini

Images — Giordano Lupini

Engine: 118 kW 200 Nm 2-litre petrol I4
Drive: 6-speed automatic RWD
0-60 km/h         3.43 sec
0-100 km/h:       7.48 sec
0-160 km/h:       18.61 sec
400 m:            15.4 sec @ 148 km/h
80-120 km/h:      5.02 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.84 sec
Vmax:             194 km/h
Fuel:             6.7 l/100km
CO2:              156g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y Unl/3y Unl
Price:            R551K
RATED             8
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