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For years those of us who dreamed of owning a sports car envisioned a British MG TF in British Racing Green with a tan interior.
MG’s TF was the apotheosis of what a sports car should be, and attending like – cute, beautiful and nimble. It additionally was a British car, so electronics were suspect.
You’ll apprehension I didn’t acknowledgment power, because sports cars are not beef cars, they are quick, active and fun to drive. They don’t exhausted at a stoplight like a stereo’s bass apostle about to explode. They fizz and chortle.
READ: 2020 Mazda3 AWD Premium Review
They additionally are as attenuate as an albino cornball or ethical politician. For the accomplished 30 years there has mostly been aloof one accurate sports car on the bazaar in the States, Mazda’s MX-5 Miata. Oh, there were a few added pretenders, but none with blockage power. And, for the record, there is the Fiat 124, a relabeled Miata with somewhat altered anatomy work.
Mazda launched its Miata in 1989 as a 1990 archetypal and at atomic one automotive biographer (me) called it his Car of the Year, accumulation my aboriginal Zoomie Award. To appearance how out of synch Motor Trend annual was at the time, it called the Lincoln Town Car its 1990 COY and followed with Chevy’s whale-like Caprice Archetypal LTZ Hmm!
Miata has backward accurate to its roots, actual small, active and beautiful as Paddington Bear on roller skates. Yet it has afflicted too, all for the better.
The changes accept been the accession of a ability retractable hardtop, the activated RF model, and its I4 keeps accepting steam, so now produces 181 horsepower. This, my friends, in a auto belief aloof 2,452 lbs.
Still, that doesn’t accomplish it a amateur to say, a Contrivance Challenger, it aloof quickens its pace, and there’s annihilation amiss with that.
Mazda additionally has developed the best amazing red acrylic color, Soul Red Metallic, that some of us Boomers anticipate looks a lot like Candy Apple Red from our youth. It sparkles like a design in the sunlight, and it’s alone $595 extra. The blush advancement was the alone advantage on my analysis car, the MX-5 RF Grand Touring.
What active purists abide to adulation about the MX-5 (its official name) is its artlessness and affordability. It’s a dream car for the masses, which is why added than a actor accept been awash in 30 years.
This latest RF is a absolute example, starting at $33,990 in abject trim and aloof $35,345 as activated in top-level Grand Touring trim. With the RF you get the ability auto which neatly and mechanically food itself in advanced of the adored block in about 10 seconds.
Standard too is a 6-speed chiral transmission, which is a contentment if you are old abundant to apperceive how to assignment it, or were accomplished to use a clamp by your dad or mom. Hook that chiral up with the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G I4 agent and you can blooper through the apparatus and zip up to artery speeds in a jiffy.
Shifter throws are short, precise, and accessible acceptance the active powerplant to sing acquiescently while carrying added ability to the rear wheels. Some chirping is accessible and the ability is perfect, in my apprehensive opinion.
Handling charcoal stellar, both ablaze and precise. Some allegorize Miata to a go-kart, and there’s some accuracy to that as you can bung it about curves at will. It sticks able-bodied to an acme and alive through the quick gearbox helps it ability out like a hummingbird brief off to its abutting nectar-filled blossom.
Ride charcoal a bit jiggly, but you’re in such ascendancy with Miata that you’ll rarely care. You can contrivance pot holes and abbreviate your trampling of any asperous spots on the road, abacus to your car ascendancy fun. And yet, with a miniscule 90.9-inch wheelbase the ride never becomes brutal, as one ability expect. Thank the GT’s Bilstein shocks, which are allotment of the action abeyance that additionally includes a strut belfry brace in back.
Good brakes additionally apathetic the MX-5 and the GT comes with as abundant assurance accessories as you acquisition on some affluence action sedans. Accepted are dark atom monitoring, rear cantankerous cartage alert, lane abandonment warning, and rain-sensing wipers. Note too the Bilstein shocks, Brembo disc brakes and a limited-slip cogwheel are accepted on the GT.
Also accepted on this top-line model, one up from the Club trim, are automated altitude controls, covering akin seats, adaptive advanced lighting and automated aerial axle lights, and a aeronautics system.
Again, the cockpit is simple with aggregate accessible to see and reach, additional big altitude controls. I additionally like that a quick button tap turns off the beeping lane abandonment abetment feature. Additional it’s air-conditioned actuality how Mazda brings the admirable alfresco blush into the cockpit by painting the autogenous aperture top trim in the anatomy color. Otherwise seats were tan covering and the birr was atramentous over tan, archetypal sports car colors.
I do booty barring to two appearance though, the console-mounted appendage to acclimatize the infotainment awning is still awkward as all get-out. A able touchscreen is needed. Additional the ability roof button works adverse of what’s intuitive. You cull up the toggle to lower the top and advance it bottomward to accession it. What?
You apprentice to alive with it admitting and already you’ve acclimatized into the animated admiring manually adapted seats you balloon about best aggregate except the fun you’re accepting active the MX-5. Additional the seats are heated, acceptation you can adore your drop-top a little after into a Wisconsin fall.
A few added credibility to consider. There’s a disposable cupholder that extends into the passenger’s ancillary high bottom well, about area a passenger’s larboard knee would be. There’s addition amid the seats and abaft them a bit, which is OK for a passenger, but not a driver, to use. Note too that for years Miata has had a appendage in the passenger’s attic bottom well. It’s still there.
Tall riders additionally could acquisition allowance a problem, abnormally those with continued torsos. But the MX-5 is a abundant drive for 6-footers and shorter.
In aback is a 4.5 cubic bottom trunk, which isn’t a lot, but would authority a brace brief accoutrements and a briefcase.
Gas breadth is super. I got 37.5 mpg in a week’s analysis on artery and burghal streets, usually with a commuter aboard. The EPA ante the RF at 26 mpg burghal and 34 mpg highway. It’s attenuate I exhausted the EPA numbers, and I absolutely wasn’t lollygagging.
Then there’s that price, mentioned above. With alone the acrylic as an advantage the activated Grand Touring archetypal was $35,940. A Club trim akin lists at $32,615 and has abundant of what the GT has, bare the covering seats, some of the assurance appearance and adherent lights.
Oh, and those of you who would blemish an MX-5 Miata with an automated chiral will accept to pay amid $600 and $1,350 added for the privilege, depending on trim level.
And bethink a chiral soft-top Miata is still accessible too, but a bit noisier central vs. the RF hardtop. It lists at $27,525 in Action trim and goes up from there.
For my money (which is accessible at this price), I’d go with the RF’s GT adaptation and slather it with Soul Red Metallic. Winner!
Overview: 2020 Mazda MX-5 RF Grand Touring
Hits: Sharp looks, accomplished handling, quick acceleration, superb 6-speed manual, and glossy ability top. Awesome acrylic job, acrimonious comfortable action seats, simple cockpit with big altitude controls, easy-off lane abetment and arrant body-color aperture tops.
Misses: Icky animate knob-controlled advice awning and ability roof button works adverse what you’d think.
Made In: Hiroshima, Japan
Engine: 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G I4, 181 hp
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 2,452 lbs.
Wheelbase: 90.9 in.
Length: 154.1 in.
Cargo: 4.5 cu.ft.
MPG: 26/34, 37.5 (tested)
Base Price: $35,345 (includes delivery)
Major Options: Soul Red Crystal paint, $595
Test Vehicle: $35,940
Sources: Mazda, Kelley Blue Book