REVIEW | The 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF is still a great drivers' car

Gugu Masuku revisits Mazda's little charmer

11 July 2019 - 12:20 By Gugu Masuku
The Mazda MX-5 RF.
The Mazda MX-5 RF.
Image: Supplied

It’s quite common to see a convertible roadster whizzing past, driven by a middle-aged man wearing a cap or a woman who looks like she takes a Pilates class twice a week and has a short temper and fiery attitude. If you ruffle her feathers, you’ll know by the beefy soundtrack that follows in her wake – all the horses in that six-cylinder motor.

The Mazda MX-5 RF fits this description perfectly, except it doesn’t have a snarling engine to give you an indication of how the driver feels — and that’s okay.

The MX-5, with its compact proportions and square stance, is propelled by a modest 2.0l inline four cylinder, and it all comes together to create a satisfying toy for weekend escapades on whichever road you choose to play.

I found the Miata’s engineering ideal for my driving style, the 118kW and 200Nm isn’t excessive, but just enough. The suspension is firm, but nothing stiff enough to rattle the spine. This set-up gives it the ability to dive into corners head first, with no hesitation. There were times when I felt no need for even the slightest dab of brakes, and just allowed the little Mazda to do what it enjoys doing. I was honoured to be able to facilitate this process.

Where the roadster and I didn’t agree was on its interior. It’s a very compact space, and it lets you know from the get-go. I am more than 2m tall and climbing in and out was an exercise which took a few attempts to master. Thankfully, I was able to set up my driving position and came very, very near to getting it perfect before running out of room.

It must be said, I didn’t appreciate the Japanese's poor choice of materials for this otherwise charming vehicle — many of the panels are as brittle as grandpa’s false teeth.

The lack of storage spaces didn’t do anything to ease my frustrations. There was nowhere to place even the smallest of items, like a mobile device.

The less-than impressive interior aside, the MX-5 RF is quite the head-turner on the streets of Joburg, with its streamlined profile and smooth lines, and for me and many of my peers has proven itself to be a special car to drive. It offers honest motoring without any frills to distract you from discovering its true essence. I just wish it was offered with the option of a manual gearbox in addition to the standard six-speed auto.

With just more than half-a-million rands in my bank account, the option of signing off on an MX-5 wouldn’t be an easy decision. But when you consider that every other toy on this shelf will cost you in excess of R100k more than the Mazda, it makes the decision a little easier.

Fast facts: Mazda MX-5 RF

Engine: 1,998cc four-cylinder petrol

Power: 118kW at 6,000rpm

Torque: 200Nm at 4,600rpm

Transmission: six-speed automatic

0-100km/h: 8.6-seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 194km/h (claimed)

Fuel: 6.7l/100km (claimed combined)

Price: From R538,200

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