Mazda MX-5 RF review

Costs & verdict

Manufacturer price from:£23,095
What Car? Target Price£21,440
Mazda MX-5 RF infotainment
Review continues below...

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.

PCP finance costs are likely to be tempting, too, if the soft-top version is anything to go by; it's routinely offered with enticing deals.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level RF is the SE-L Nav+, and it’s our favourite. You get goodies such as climate and cruise control, LED daytime running lights and 16in alloy wheels. A comprehensive infotainment package includes a six-speaker stereo, sat-nav, Bluetooth and a DAB radio, all operated through a 7.0in screen. Go for the more powerful 2.0-litre version and you also get bigger 17in alloy wheels and a limited-slip differential.

Sport Nav+ throws in extras such as heated leather seats, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and an upgraded stereo. Again, the 2.0-litre model gets even more, including larger 17in alloy wheels, sports suspension and a limited-slip differential. Being quite a bit more expensive than the SE-L Nav+ model, though, it wouldn’t be our primary choice unless you really want the sharper handling the suspension tweaks bring.

At the top of the range is GT Sport Nav+. This adds a boot spoiler, nappa leather seats, blindspot monitoring, adaptive LED lights and a rear-view camera. It's certainly well equipped, but far too pricey to recommend.

Mazda MX-5 RF infotainment


The regular MX-5 performed averagely in the 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey, where it scored three out of a total of five stars. Mazda as a brand did far better, however, coming 12th 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 decent 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.

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.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


Mazda MX-5 RF side
Open Gallery10 Images


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

What's important to you?

Performance & drive
Passenger & boot space