Car Review: 2017 Mazda MX5

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata

What do you do when you’re the most successful open top roadster in history?

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

That was exactly the challenge facing Mazda and its MX-5 Miata. On April 22, 2016 the company sold its one millionth edition of the tiny drop-top sports car. It already had a hard-top convertible. There had been talk of a coupe or a hatchback version, but Mazda opted for a fastback… with a twist. It’s a convertible fastback.

Officially it’s called the MX-5 Miata RF. The RF stands for retractable fastback. Look at it from the side and the sloping roofline makes it significantly different from other Miatas. The hard-top roof flows right to the back of the car for a coupe effect. But in just 13 seconds that coupe top can fold neatly into space just ahead of the trunk. A display on the dash let’s you watch its progress. Once down, you’re back to classic MX-5 Miata driving fun.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
The Fastback Look Was Easy to Create

If you live in a place where a cloth-top is going to take a beating from the weather, the RF is a great alternative. To be honest, it doesn’t seem particularly quiet with the top up, although I’m sure it must be slightly less noisy than the version. But even if it isn’t I’d consider the car just for the looks alone.

Once you move past the top, the car is a classic Miata. That means it’s a fun car to drive. While its four-cylinder 2.0 liter engine only produces 155 horsepower, you get to enjoy ever single one if you have the six speed manual transmission. In some cars that kind of power would leave you wanting, but that’s not the case in the MX-5 Miata. Don’t get me wrong, there are other high-horsepower cars that will slam you back in your seat. But the MX-5 Miata you’re an active part of a great performance package. Use the engine’s power curve and torque range. Use the sport suspension. Fling it into turns and you’ll feel the rewards every day.

Am I actually gushing?

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Interior
The Interior Will Fit You LIke A Glove

So what’s the downside? The Mx-5 Miata is small. Really small. If you’re too big you either won’t fit or you won’t be comfortable. There’s even less room on the passenger side. And the trunk is barely big enough to call a trunk. But then, those aren’t the reasons you buy an MX-5 Miata. You buy it because you want to enjoy driving.

You might find the suspension a bit on the stiff side. While that’s part of what makes it fun, it might also annoy people who are used to a cushier ride. During my test week I opted not to drive it on a brief 400 mile journey to the LA area. That’s just not what the MX-5 Miata is good for.

I’m also not a fan of the Mazda’s display interface that controls the radio and climate. It’s simply not easy to use. I’m sure owners will adapt, but I can’t figure out what those Mazda engineers are thinking with this solution.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Looks Great With Top Up Or Down

Mileage is right where you’d expect to be. I averaged nearly 32 miles to the gallon during my test week and I wasn’t gentle at all. Officially Mazda says it’s good for 26 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway.

My test car was the Grand Touring Edition that had leather interior and safety goodies like a lane departure warning system. It basically gave a low rumble when you began to drift to the side.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Not All Hardtop Convertibles Look This Good

The base MX-5 Miata starts at $24,915. The entry-level RF is the Club edition that comes out of the gate at $31,555. My RF Grand Touring edition only added a little with a starting price of $32,620.

Is the MX-5 Miata a beauty? Definitely. Does it have great performance? Absolutely. Will you enjoy every minute be hind the will. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Congratulations Mazda. You made a good thing even better.

 

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