Mazda MX-5 RF review

Category: Convertible

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Mazda MX-5 RF infotainment
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RRP £25,700What Car? Target Price from£25,128
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Because the MX-5 is the only new two-seat sports car available at this price level, there’s nothing to directly rate it against. However, we’ve mentioned previously in this review that the MX-5 RF is quite a bit more expensive than the soft-top MX-5, despite only providing a small gain in refinement. As such, we’d recommend sticking with the cheaper model unless the need for a hard-top is compelling. You could also look at the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86. Both are more expensive than the MX-5 RF and coupés, rather than drop-tops, but they do offer four seats.

Being a relatively lightweight car with pretty efficient engines should make the MX-5 RF cheap to run. We haven’t been able to run our real-world fuel economy tests on it yet, but even the 2.0-litre version is claimed to average a decent 40.9mpg (combined) under WLTP testing. Also encouraging is that the 2.0-litre soft-top actually beat its official fuel economy during our testing, managing an impressive 45.1mpg

PCP finance costs are likely to be tempting, too, as it's routinely offered with enticing deals. Services are due every year or 12,500 miles, whichever comes first, and while Mazda’s fixed-price service plan isn’t the cheapest around, it’s a reasonable cost and can be paid in monthly instalments.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level RF is the SE-L, and it’s our favourite. You get goodies such as climate and cruise control, LED daytime running lights and 16in alloy wheels. Sport throws in extras such as heated seats, keyless entry, body-coloured door mirrors and an upgraded stereo. Next up is Sport Tech, the first trim to benefit from the 2.0-litre engine, stiffer suspension and limited slip differential along with the rear camera and better headlights we mentioned earlier.

At the top of the range is GT Sport Tech. This adds snazzy BBS wheels, Nappa leather seats and piano black mirrors, but is too pricey to recommend for a few small styling upgrades. Meanwhile, built to celebrate Mazda's centenary in 2020, the 100th Anniversary Special Edition features bespoke white and burgundy paintwork and burgundy interior trim, alongside bespoke badging on the floor mats, key fob and alloy wheels. Just 100 examples will be sold in the UK, but its high price makes it difficult to recommend.

Mazda MX-5 RF infotainment

Reliability

The regular MX-5 performed averagely in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, where it came mid-table in the sports, convertible and coupe class, being beaten by the Audi TT. Still, the score itself wasn’t terrible, it’s just a strong class.. Mazda as a brand did far better, however, coming 9th out of 31 manufacturers.

The MX-5 gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, with three years of European roadside assistance included.

Safety and security

Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the MX-5 RF, but the soft-top version gets a reasonable four-star rating. The MX-5 RF comes with stability control and four airbags as standard, along with a bonnet that springs up to help limit pedestrian injuries in an impact. There’s also an Isofix child seat-mounting point.

However, you’ll have to jump up to Sport trim to get automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and traffic sign monitoring. Versions with the 2.0-litre engine add blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The latter system keeps an electronic eye out for traffic when you're reversing into a road, alerting you if a vehicle is about to cross your path.

Thanks in part to a standard alarm and engine immobiliser, Thatcham awarded the MX-5 RF its maximum five-star rating for resistance to being stolen and four stars for trickiness to break into.

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Overview

The Mazda MX-5 RF is as fun to drive as its Convertible sibling while handling is actually an improvement over the soft-top. Boot space isn't hindered, either. But the step up in refinement isn’t enough to justify its extra cost, and rivals such as the Toyota GT86 offer a bigger, faster package, even if they don't have a convertible option.

  • Outstanding ride and handling
  • Performance suited to UK roads
  • Low running costs
  • Expensive next to soft-top model
  • Not much improvement to refinement
  • Driving position lacks adjustment

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