2019 Mazda MX-5 RF: Potent Pocket Rocket

Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 11 months ago

Short of the mid-cycle refresh, the yearly tweaks and updates to a vehicle during its production years are typically quite minor. A slightly retuned ECU here, perhaps a softer touch material around the shift boot there. The small stuff, as it were. But in a car as small as Mazda’s MX-5 (formerly Miata,) the small stuff can make a big difference – and Mazda certainly sweated over the small stuff in the 2019 revision. Let’s go over what’s new – and the kind of impact it actually has on the world’s most popular sports car.

One of the most common nitpicks on the MX-5 is that it’s down on power. We’d argue the point of the car isn’t outright power, but fun, nimble usability that can be enjoyed by drivers of any skill level. But it’s a complaint that hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. Mazda’s engineers did some extensive poking around under the hood and managed to deliver. Power is up 26 horsepower from last year’s model, and while that may not seem like much, in such a small package, you really feel that extra oomph. Without getting too technical, lighter weight engine components, a redesigned exhaust system and some mechanical changes to the transmission setup do wonders to make an already fun car even better.

The MX-5 is perfectly fine cruising along at lower speeds, comfortably chugging along while drivers take in the scenery and the open road. Or, the smell of congestion if you’re in a more urban environment. But it’d almost be a shame not to push the car the way it was meant to be driven every now and then. The MX-5 thrives at higher RPMs and the 2019 revision encourages drivers to go even further, with an redline increase to 7,500 – up from last year’s 6,800. Paired with Mazda’s wonderful 6-speed gearbox, it’s seriously some of the most fun you can have on four wheels. The car is forgiving and friendly to less experienced drivers, but focused and precise for those who fancy themselves amateur racers. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular choice for autocross, track days and amateur drifting events. If a manual box isn’t your thing, or you just don’t know how to use one, an automatic gearbox is also available.

On top of engine improvements, there are also a few more cosmetic choices for 2019. Last year Mazda introduced the red canvas top as an option. This year, you’ll have a third choice – a brown top. We’d imagine it pairs nicely with the blue paint. But our tester was the folding hardtop RF model, so that’s not relevant here. The RF is heavier than the canvas-topped model, as well, there is a bigger blind spot because of the two humps behind the seats and the design of the roof. But it definitely looks pretty killer. You can also pick from some new 16 and 17-inch wheel choices, and enjoy a newly telescopic steering wheel.

With its compact two-seat layout, one shouldn’t buy an MX-5 expecting a car laden with practicality and creature comforts. You can certainly get some comforts, like leather heated seating and navigation, but storage is minimal, cupholders can fall out of their sockets and the interior can get noisy and windy. But that’s exactly the point of this car. If you were really dedicated you could absolutely drive a Mazda MX-5 all year round, but for the majority of people who buy this car, it’s a weekend and summer toy. The MX-5 is still relatively affordable, starting in at just under $34,000. But depending on your choices, the prices can quickly add up. A fully loaded MX-5 RF GT starts at $42,900. Whatever your choice and budget allow you, the good news is you’ll get the improved hardware no matter the trim. Mazda’s most famous slogan is of course, zoom zoom. And with the 2019 MX-5, there’s more zoom than there ever was, and we love every bit of it. 

2019 Mazda MX5, Mazda Miata, Miata, Mazda MX-5, MX5, Mx-5 RF, Mazda RF, Convertible, Roadster, Sports Car, Review

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