By Veeno Dewan
The Mazda MX 5 RF is a targa roof version of the iconic MX-5 little roadster. The main difference in the new RF is the rear upper part of the body that features dual flying buttresses, giving the RF a very unique profile and transforms the car from a swoopy coupe to a sexy looking “targa.” Operate a switch inside the RF and the flying buttresses lift up, the solid roof and rear glass slides back and down into a self-contained storage area, and the buttresses lock back down again. New updates for 2019 include: a 30mm telescopic adjustment added to the steering wheel, standard rear-view wide-angle camera, a Traffic Sign Recognition System, and a safety feature called Smart City Brake Support, where the MX-5 uses front-facing sensors to detect obstacles ahead and will autonomously engage the brakes if needed. There are new, more solid cupholders, new seat recline levers, better fuel efficiency (City 9:0 and Highway 7.0), and a retuned engine note. Maximum engine speed has been raised from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm to provide higher revving In addition, horsepower has been raised to 181hp @ 7,000 rpm courtesy of a retuned 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G engine producing 151 lb-ft, of torque – a full 26 hp and 3 lb-ft increase over the 2018 model.
To achieve these numbers, there are lighter pistons, connecting rods, new injectors, and a larger air intake, valves, and intake manifold. Mazda says that the torque has also been improved across both low- and high-rpm ranges and engine sound has been enhanced by adding lighter exhaust valves and a larger exhaust manifold with a less restrictive silencer. Torque has been increased from low to high engine speeds, with faster response times for the engine. The RF is premium upgrade to the MX-5 and starts at base $39,900. The transmission is either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The driving experience is so pure in the MX-5, that even novice drivers can carve corners with precision and skill. The steering is light and very responsive with excellent feedback. It’s the epitomes of point and shoot driving. Despite the extra weight in the RF, I could not detect any drop in performance. The formula is delightfully simple and works. Beautifully engineered handling, a slick six-speed manual and a responsive four-cylinder engine providing adequate power. Enough said. The combination of superbly matches engine, shifter, and chassis is simply wonderfully executed. The MX-5 is truly in it elements on winding country roads, a day at the track or just blasting around with no particular place to go.
I for one would err on the side of the targa as opposed to the soft top MX-5. The hardtop offers security, it is quieter inside, and the vibration-free cabin makes it an everyday car. Note, the RF is not a cheap option for what is a very small two seater. Still, it is worth the money. If purist daily driving thrills are what you need – look no further than the RF. Simply superb.
2019 Mazda MX-5 RF GT Priced from $42,900. Price as tested with Options, freight, PDE: $48.495