Sprint Review: Mazda MX-5 RF  

A new car, lots of information in short paragraphs

What you need to know: The Mazda MX-5 is dead, long live the Mazda MX-5! Where before you could buy the manual soft-top, manual gearbox roadster, Mazda S.A. decided to ditch that in favour of this new electric “targa” hard-top, automatic RF model. The main reason for this, I suspect, is to widen the target audience.

This RF ( “Retractable Fastback”) model retains the gutsy 2L four-cylinder petrol engine (118kW, 200Nm) and rear wheel-drive but has a six-speed automatic ‘box with shift paddles, multi-plate clutch, clever torque converter, highway coasting mode, selectable i-stop/start system and a sport mode.

More facts: While the RF isn’t completely terrible, most of the original MX-5’s charm has been destroyed by the new gearbox and roof; but more of that later. The compact Japanese roadster’s looks are still pin-sharp as are its major controls and road holding. A hard suspension and agile drive train are typical roadster trademarks.

Watch out for: Same goes for the rather snug cabin with only two seats which feel like they’re barely off the road. The steering wheel is only height-adjustable, the side air vents are either open or shut, the driver’s door card sawed into my leg, the infotainment controls are too far back while the 12-volt socket placement and keyless auto-lock feature are infuriating.

I’m not done yet. The boot size is a laughable 127L although the tank can hold 45L. This car’s start/stop system was very rough and it has questionable highway manners. These include immense wind noise and a gearbox which hunts for torque whenever you go near the throttle. But worst of all… the roof only operates at up to 10km/h.

Where we went: Does it matter? This RF is – as Mazda S.A. probably hoped for – easier to live with on a daily basis; especially heavy traffic. But that smile I had in the manual MX-5 never recurred here; amplified by the obstinate roof which beeps a lot and doesn’t work in reverse or at anything more than walking pace.

Why you’ll want one: No idea… maybe you’re tiny and can only drive automatics? All those negatives I mentioned earlier didn’t matter in the instant-drop-top manual MX-5 because it had character. This RF is just another automatic, pretty, beeping roadster. You may as well buy an SLK or a Z4; which, incidentally, has also been discontinued.

Each MX-5 is sold with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty and service plan.


Engine:                        2L i-4 petrol
Transmission:          6-speed automatic, RWD
Max. Power:              118kW
Max. Torque:             200Nm
Avg cons.:                   6.7L/100km (claimed)
0-100km/h:              7.74 seconds (claimed 8.6)
Top Speed:                 194km/h (claimed)
List Price:                   Starting from N$ 533,000


0-10km/h: 0,29 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,82 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,46 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,14 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,82 seconds
0-60km/h: 3,58 seconds
0-70km/h: 4,54 seconds
0-80km/h: 5,52 seconds
0-90km/h: 6,58 seconds
0-100km/h: 7,74 seconds
0-110km/h: 9,13 seconds
0-120km/h: 10,75 seconds
0-130km/h: 12,49 seconds
0-140km/h: 14,42 seconds
0-150km/h: 16,77 seconds
0-160km/h: 19,91 seconds

0-100m: 6,71 seconds @ 91,29km/h
0-200m: 10,14 seconds @ 116,63km/h
0-300m: 13,03 seconds @ 132,84km/h
0-400m: 15,61 seconds @ 145,55km/h

100-0km/h: 2,82 seconds @ 39,46 meters (once-off)


0-10mph: 0,58 seconds
0-20mph: 1,61 seconds
0-30mph: 2,70 seconds
0-40mph: 3,99 seconds
0-50mph: 5,57 seconds
0-60mph: 7,31 seconds
0-70mph: 9,57 seconds
0-80mph: 12,29 seconds
0-90mph: 15,46 seconds
0-100mph: 20,20 seconds

1/4 mile: 15,67 seconds @ 90,60 mph

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,73G

Altitude: 60m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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