2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF review: Still the best after all these years

    Some issues in life convey pure pleasure. Laughing to tears together with your finest pal. Playing with a canine on a seaside. Or, to the purpose of this story, driving a 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata on a winding highway with a full tank of fuel and a cloudless sky. The Miata has no gimmicks like drive modes or gesture controls or private artificial-intelligence assistants. When I’m in a Miata, it is simply me, the automotive and the open highway. Pure pleasure.The MX-5 is now in its 30th yr, and over the course of 4 generations, the two-seat roadster hasn’t modified all that a lot. These days, it comes with a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated I4 engine pushing out a modest 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. And now, along with a standard soft-top, you may get the Miata RF, with a coupe-like again and a detachable roof.

    The Miata has by no means been about energy above all else, however that does not imply the Mazda is a slouch. The engine was retuned for 2019, including 26 extra horsepower and 3 extra pound-feet of torque, with a 7,500-rpm redline. The gearing was modified barely, too, for a faster off-the-line expertise. This would possibly sound like hyperbole, however I promise, that is the perfect automotive I’ve pushed this yr.This six-speed handbook transmission goes into gear with a satisfying thwok, the throttle is responsive underneath my proper foot, with linear energy supply, and the Brembo brakes supply agency, strong stopping energy. Even with the ND-generation’s lack of hydraulic energy steering, which is extra communicative than a brand new electrical setup, the rack is fairly chatty, with simply the correct quantity of weight.

    All of this implies the motive force will get a greater sense of what the automotive is doing, and it permits me to assault my favourite backroad with extra confidence than I may in additional highly effective, dearer vehicles. I simply really feel a lot extra in management. The Miata’s 50/50 weight distribution helps with total dealing with, as do the sticky, Bridgestone Potenza tires. But principally, I like how predictable the Miata is. There’s simply sufficient physique roll so I can sense when the rear finish is about to interrupt unfastened. I can simply get the automotive to rotate with only a smidge of throttle utility. I can hold it in third gear the entire time, winding it as much as that greater redline. Heel-toe shifting is straightforward, even with my dainty woman ft, so generally I’ll convey it right down to second gear even after I need not, simply because I can blip that throttle like a boss.

    The Miata’s 2.0-liter engine will get a bit extra energy for 2019, and totally different gearing to make it really feel faster off the road.
    Emme Hall/Roadshow
    Coming out of the twisties, the Miata will not win any straight-line pace contests, nevertheless it holds its personal. High-speed commuting is a bit simpler within the new Miata, due to a taller overdrive in sixth gear. At 80 mph, the engine is not revving almost as excessive, which helps with gas financial system. The EPA charges the Miata RF at 29 miles per gallon mixed, however I’m seeing 28 mpg throughout every week of driving — most of which is spent whipping this factor round as shortly as I can.Most individuals who look ahead to driving a Miata in all probability aren’t too apprehensive about driver-assistance know-how. After all, this automotive would not have adjustable driving modes, and solely this yr obtained a telescopic steering wheel. Mazda is not too involved with issues like adaptive cruise management and lane-keeping help. My tester has blind-spot monitoring, which is a pleasant addition to the RF because the fastened pillars reduce some visibility. Lane-departure warning is beneficial right here, too.Mazda Connect is not essentially the most sturdy infotainment system, housed on a 7-inch display which you could solely work by contact when the automotive is stopped. Embedded navigation is just commonplace on the highest two trims, and you’ll solely get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the sold-out 30th Anniversary trim. New for 2019 is traffic-sign recognition, which I suppose is good to have when you’ve got a heavy proper foot. But total, this isn’t an excellent infotainment system.There’s cool tech within the RF’s roof mechanism, not less than. One button lowers the highest in about 13 seconds and it stows neatly underneath the rear pillars with out hindering trunk house. After all, with such a small trunk, each cubic foot counts.The Recaro seats are comfy and supportive, however the Mazda Connect infotainment tech leaves loads to be desired.
    Emme Hall/Roadshow

    Taller drivers might need a tough time becoming behind the wheel of the Miata, however the brand new tilt and telescoping steering wheel can not less than help in driving-position consolation. My tester’s Recaro seats are supportive, however nonetheless comfortable sufficient to make commuting simple. They’re heated, too, so the highest can come down in December and ye olde buns shall stay hot-crossed.There’s no glovebox within the MX-5, only a small, lockable compartment between the seat backs. There is not actually a lot of a middle console, both, and the cup holders ought to win an award for Least Ergonomic Placement Of An In-Car Feature. At least they’re detachable from their place immediately in entrance of the aforementioned lockable bin, with a slot for one close to the passenger’s knee. If you are a frequent in-car beverage-haver, you will need to completely affix one on this place. Having to twist my arm backwards each time I need a sip of Diet Dr. Pepper will get actually outdated, actually quick.

    As far because the competitors goes, there is not actually the rest within the two-seat, rear-wheel-drive convertible section for underneath $30,000. Yes, there’s the Fiat 124 Spider, which relies on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, nevertheless it has softer dealing with and it is loads uglier. Why personal a Fiata when you may simply get a Miata?Whether you select the usual model or the hardtop RF, you may’t go incorrect with any model of the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
    Emme Hall/Roadshow
    Really, the Miata’s closest opponents are the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins, which comply with the identical low-weight/low-power/excellent-handling ethos. A Mini Cooper can be enjoyable to throw round, nevertheless it’s not fairly the identical. Some people store the Miata with a Ford Mustang, which I suppose I get, however come on, the Mustang is extra of a linebacker whereas the Miata is a sleek ballerina.I’ll admit, I presently personal a turbocharged 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata, which is mainly the proper MX-5. But if I needed to commerce up for a brand new one, I’d positively follow the soft-top mannequin over the RF, as I want the totally roofless expertise. Make mine a Club trim with the Brembo brakes, BBS wheels and Recaro seats, and match it with the six-speed handbook transmission. I imply, I get that some folks cannot or aren’t capable of drive a stick, however actually, all Miatas must be manuals. The check automotive you see right here prices $38,995, however my excellent automotive is barely less-expensive $35,800, together with $820 for vacation spot.The Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t an ideal automotive for everybody. The tech sucks, it is impractical as hell and lot of taller people merely cannot match inside it. But it is the proper automotive for me, and a complete lot of different automotive fanatics. No different automotive punches above its weight just like the Miata, and no different automotive makes me smile as a lot, both. I would not drive the rest.

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