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Mazda’s MX-5 RF brings lightweight sports cars back!

In case you didn’t know, sports cars have returned to the Southern Sales & Service showrooms, specifically the one at Mazda. Equipped with Skyactiv technology and an all-new, smaller, stiffer and lighter chassis, we couldn’t wait to sample the Mazda MX5– a car reputed to deliver one of the purest driving experiences on the planet!

 
Based on the philosophy of lightweight rear-wheel drive classic British roadsters such as the Lotus Elan, the Mazda Miata was one of those cars that adopted a winning formula and added Japanese durability to it. It’s cheeky looks, awesome handling and light overall weight (940kg) allowed it to be very quick without needing a particularly powerful engine. Along with a fair amount of parts-sharing with the Mazda 3, the car remained relatively inexpensive. The first-generation MX-5 was extremely popular both on the street and in motorsport.

 
The car grew in size, engine power and number of features, with many special editions over the next two generations (NB & NC). The fourth-generation car, known internally as the ND chassis, was unveiled in 2014 and has been in production since 2015. The most current 2018 model is known as the ND2. In April 2016, Mazda broke its own Guinness World Record (best-selling two-seat sports car in history) by producing its one millionth MX-5. The fourth-generation MX-5 soft top is around four inches shorter and 150kg (330lb) lighter than the previous model, heralding a return to its lightweight roots.  

 

In April 2016, Mazda broke its own Guinness World Record (best-selling two-seat sports car in history) by producing its one millionth MX-5.

"Inheriting the Jinba-ittai feel from the first model, the Roadster has preserved the pleasure of open-top driving and shared that joy with fans for over 27 years," said Masamichi Kogai, Mazda's Representative Director, President and CEO. "Now we welcome a new addition to the Roadster family: the Roadster RF. I'm certain this model, with its gorgeous lines and easy-to-operate electric hardtop, will help us introduce the joy of open-top driving to an even wider range of customers. At Mazda, we'll continue our efforts to enrich people's lives through various touchpoints – including this new Roadster RF - and become a one-and-only brand our customers will choose again and again."

 

While the soft top convertible is lighter, the fully automated retractable hard top is more secure, provides additional chassis rigidity and the option of taking the top down whenever you wish.

In addition to being the first Mazda MX-5 to officially come through the dealership, the Mazda MX-5 RF is arguably the most desirable version for our market from Mazda’s lineup. If you’ve ever driven a convertible car in Trinidad and Tobago, you would understand why. While the soft top convertible is lighter, the fully automated retractable hard top is more secure, provides additional chassis rigidity and the option of taking the top down whenever you wish. For me, this would probably be during the nighttime, or perhaps on early mornings on roads away from mainstream traffic, to avoid being coated in exhaust fumes, particularly of the diesel variety, which is quite prevalent here. That being said, the RF’s retractable top is a great way to express your mood, or personality, and definitely has the potential to step up your date night game. 

 
And even when the top is lowered, there is still a considerable amount of trunk space for such a small car. In RF trim, the MX-5 also comes packing Mazda’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, also found in the Mazda CX-3. This highly efficient Skyactiv-G engine is good for [email protected] and 148ft-lb (201Nm) @ 4600rpm. For the 2019 model year, a 181hp version will be offered with a higher 7500rpm redline. For reference, the 1.5-litre version (not currently offered by the dealership) produces 129hp/111ft-lb. 

This highly efficient Skyactiv-G engine is good for [email protected] and 148ft-lb (201Nm) @ 4600rpm.

Mazda’s I-Stop system shuts off the engine when you come to a complete stop, restarting in just 0.35 seconds, easily enough time to move your foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator, potentially improving economy by eight per cent. Overall, the MX-5 is expected to achieve 26mpg in the city and 35mpg on the open highway. Who says you can’t enjoy sporty driving and great fuel economy?

 
The 158hp version we drove offered smooth, linear acceleration, posting an 8.5-second 0-60 time, while the manual version should be roughly one second faster. This should drop to around 6.5 seconds (auto) and 5.8 seconds (manual) for the upcoming 181hp engine, while the 1.5-litre RFs are good for 8.6-second runs with the manual gearbox. Top speed on our model is around 135mph, much like the Mazda RX-2s of yesteryear. 

 
Of course under the hood is more about where the engine is positioned in this car. The entire block sits on and rearward of the front axle line. By locating the heaviest component of the car nearer to the middle, the Miata’s turn-in can’t help but be crisp and fluid. With the car already as light as it is (2,493 lbs.) and with a stellar 51/49 front to rear weight distribution for the RF model, this MX-5 lives up to all the hype about its handling. Compared to regular cars, which these days handle pretty well, the MX-5 feels like a precision driving instrument. The double-wishbone front suspension and rear multilink setup has worked wonderfully across all generations of the car, and Mazda has preserved the feeling of oneness between car and driver. 

With the car already as light as it is (2,493 lbs.) and with a stellar 51/49 front to rear weight distribution for the RF model, this MX-5 lives up to all the hype about its handling. Compared to regular cars, which these days handle pretty well, the MX-5 feels like a precision driving instrument. 

 
The MX-5 RF’s mid-corner balance is extraordinary, and one of the purest you’ll find aside from the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman, or its rival, the Toyota 86 in our local market. Although the international press complained about too much body-roll during high-speed race track testing, for the road, I appreciated the extra suspension compliance– especially since most of our local back roads have a fair amount of imperfections. It’s easy to build a rhythm through flowing corners and switchbacks as its behaviour remains approachable as speeds increase and predictable at the limit. 

 
Steering feel is also sporty and direct, with sufficient vibrations coming through to allow you to understand the nature of the road surface. Mazda has achieved this via a new double-pinion electronic power assist steering (DP-EPAS) rack with a smaller gear ratio. Friction in the steering shaft was also reduced by minimizing the angle of its universal joints. Of course, the steering wheel itself has tilt and telescopic adjustments– ideal for larger drivers in the MX-5’s relatively small cabin. With the powered hardtop down, mention must also be made of the wind-blocking rear window that keeps buffeting inside the cabin to such a minimum when driving that we expect caps and shades to remain in position, once you remain seated. 

 
Panic braking and evasive manoeuvre testing also posed no problem. The MX-5 RF is equipped with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. With the stability/traction control system on, the car behaves as expected in our ‘60km/h wiggle’ test, applying the brakes automatically to mitigate excessive yaw and lower speeds, and keep things in the right general direction. Take the system off for this test, and you can expect to dial in a dose of opposite lock yourself, à la Mazda RX-7 or 8. In other words, unless you’re a seasoned rear-wheel drive specialist, leave the system on. We expect that the MX-5 RF should be hugely gratifying on a racetrack, at Autocross and on your favourite winding roads, especially in the hands of seasoned drivers– if you're gunning for the fastest lap times, leave the top up as we noticed a marked increase in chassis rigidity with the roof in place. 

 

...the MX-5 RF should be hugely gratifying on a racetrack, at Autocross and on your favourite winding roads...

The nine-speaker Bose audio system rivals those heard in luxury cars, even featuring speakers in the headrests.

Now we come to the parts that you don’t expect from a minimalist Japanese sports car. The MX-5 RF is loaded with tech. The nine-speaker Bose audio system rivals those heard in luxury cars, even featuring speakers in the headrests. Thankfully the seats are also well bolstered for sporty driving, so unless you’re planning to do a track conversion, these leather-wrapped buckets will do everything you need. There is also a large seven-inch touch screen, which allows you to control the infotainment system, connect your phone and see behind you when the rear view camera is active. Reverse sensors, keyless entry, single touch power windows and push button start are also standard.


Play this song and tell me if you don't feel like driving!

I also sampled the voice command system, which worked near-flawlessly– I was able to change the radio station and play selected music on my phone, all via voice command. Two USB ports and a 12V power port allow your devices to remain connected and charged, Bluetooth connectivity is also included. 

 
As with previous models, the MX-5 RF comes with two integrated roll hoops for added driver passenger protection in the unlikely event of a rollover or crash. Four airbags, side-impact beams and traction control are also standard. 

 
The Mazda MX-5 received a four-star Euro NCAP rating for the fourth generation 2015 model. As part of Mazda’s ‘gram strategy’ thought process, where weight is shaved, a section is redesigned, or completely rethought. Engineers have implemented more high-tensile steel in the MX-5’s structure to improve safety, all while reducing weight.

The Mazda MX-5 received a 4-star Euro NCAP rating for the fourth generation (2015) model.

 

There are but a handful of cars that are as rewarding to drive...

There are loads of other tidbits we could delve into about the Mazda MX-5 RF, but in conclusion, it is a solid sports car offering. It embodies everything the British envisioned for a small, lightweight, rear wheel, fun-to-drive machine with Japanese reliability, modern safety, luxury car-grade technology and conveniences, wrapped in gorgeous sheet-metal that bystanders just can’t stop looking at. That design language? Mazda calls it KODO or the Soul of Motion design philosophy. There are but a handful of cars that are as rewarding to drive in our local market and those lucky enough to purchase the Mazda MX-5 RF probably won’t be inclined to sell in a hurry– a phenomenon we've noticed even with people who buy used examples. And thanks to Mazda's Skyactiv technology it won't cost a fortune at the gas pumps.


Introductory prices start at around TT$410K. Contact Southern Sales and Service Limited or visit Mazda Trinidad & Tobago for more information. With over 1 million units sold worldwide, there’s no doubt that the Mazda MX-5 Miata is an exceptional vehicle, and this RF model will obviously continue to win the hearts of enthusiasts, the general public, and critics alike.

With over 1 million units sold worldwide, there’s no doubt that the Mazda MX-5 Miata is an exceptional vehicle, and this RF model will obviously continue to win the hearts of enthusiasts, the general public, and critics alike.

 

Technical Specifications: Mazda MX-5 RF

Engine Power [email protected]
Engine Torque [email protected] (200Nm)
Engine Displacement/Type 1998cc; SKYACTIV-G DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
Max. Engine Speed, Compression Ratio 6800rpm, 13:1
Transmission 6-speed automatic with tiptronic mode and paddle shifters, 6-speed manual (optional)
Engine/Drivetrain configuration Front-midship engine, rear-wheel drive  
Top Speed 135mph/217km/h
Acceleration 0-60mph 8.5 seconds
Differential Auto/Manual Standard/ Torque-sensing limited-slip differential (Manual only)
Parking Brake Mechanical (lever type)
Fuel Type  Premium unleaded, 91 octane or greater  
Minimum Octane Requirement (R+M/2) Regular unleaded, 87 octane or greater  
Emissions Standard ULEV125 (T3Bin125) / EURO IV
Estimated Fuel Consumption (City/Hwy/Combined) 26 / 35 / 29
Brakes Front/Rear 11.1" vented disc, single piston / 11.1" solid disc, single piston 
Engine Oil capacity  4.5 quarts with filter replacement
Fuel Tank Capacity 11.89 gallons, 45L
Curb Weight (lbs.) 2493 (RF), 2339 (manual soft top), 2388 (auto soft top)
Wheels with tyres, front / rear 17 x 7-in. aluminum wheels, P205/45 R17 high performance (F&R), 29psi (F&R)
Trunk volume (cubic feet) 4.48 (RF), 4.59 (soft top)
Approx. starting price in T&T TT$410K

Mazda MX-5 RF Image Gallery

    

What If They Zorced It Up?
Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition

Adapted from Mazda Press Release

HIROSHIMA, Japan – 
Mazda Motor Corporation showcased the global unveiling of the Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition at the Chicago Auto Show, last February. 

After 30 years and with more than 1 million examples sold, Mazda feels that the MX-5 is no longer its own creation. It belongs to the fans around the world who have supported the development of the model. To express its gratitude, and its high hopes for the future of the MX-5, the company developed Racing Orange, an exclusive body color that evokes the breaking dawn of an exciting new day. In addition to the new color, the MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition features forged aluminum wheels (Rays ZE40 RS30) developed exclusively for the MX-5 in cooperation with Rays Co., Ltd. and a 30th Anniversary badge that displays the model's serial number. Sales will be limited to 3,000 units worldwide, including both soft-top and retractable hardtop models. Power from the recently updated 181hp 2.0-litre engine remains the same. 

Mazda will continue to make cars that exceed expectations and provide driving pleasure in everyday driving situations. The company aims to build a strong bond with customers and become an indispensable presence in their lives.

CHICAGO (February 9, 2019) – 
Immediately following the global reveal at the Chicago Auto Show, a website for the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary was flooded with reservations for the celebratory vehicle. Within one-hour Mazda fans had reserved half of the U.S. allotment of 500, with 100 of those units secured in less than 15 minutes. Within four hours, all 500 of the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary allocated for the U.S. were claimed, and a waitlist for the vehicle continues to grow.

Exclusive Features:
- Racing Orange body color
- Rays forged aluminum wheels (Rays ZE40 RS30)
- 30th Anniversary badge (with serial number)
- Orange brake calipers and orange accents on the seats, door trim, dashboard and shift lever
- Recaro seats
- Bilstein dampers (manual-transmission models only)
- Brembo front brake calipers (in orange)
- Nissin rear brake calipers (in orange)
- Bose® sound system (AudioPilot™2) with nine speakers
- Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™(in select markets)
- Alcantara® used in the door trim, dashboard trim and seat covers

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Image Gallery

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