RE: Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Fleet

RE: Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Fleet

Friday 23rd November 2018

Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Fleet

The MX-5 is 30 years old next year; PH is celebrating with a pair of long termers...



PistonHeads likes the Mazda MX-5. It has for a very long time, it probably will for a very long time. Why? Well, not only is it an entertaining and fairly affordable sports car when new, it becomes ever more affordable as the years pass. All the way down to Shed level, there's an MX-5 to suit any budget. Combine that with the plethora of tuning options and it's easy to see how affection grows for the little Mazda roadster: it's cheap, honest, wind-in-the-hair fun. Like all the most successful models, its fundamentals haven't changed either, despite now being on sale for nearly three decades. Turns out people, particularly those in the UK, love a small, drop-top sports car.

Now, full disclosure from the start: I was never the biggest fan of the Mk4 MX-5. I found the driving position awkward, the handling a bit too roly poly, the engine willing if not all that potent and the styling a bit odd. Perhaps it was just the tippy-toe stance. Whatever the case, I was not as enamoured with it as so many others were.

However, this time last year we ran an Abarth 124 - which of course shares a great deal with the Mazda - and I grew to really enjoy it. Now there's the facelifted MX-5, a car which has already surpassed the Toyota GT86. This RF 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport Nav+ - easy for you to say - is now 'ours' to use and hopefully enjoy for three months, before being swapped for a 1.5 Roadster for the same period of time.


Why? Well, we like to be thorough if nothing else, so assessing both bodystyles and engines should give a good idea of what makes for the best version of MX-5. And if you're thinking it may well be a 2.0 Roadster, then you aren't the first... More than that, the next few months will proffer opportunity to see if this facelift really has been the making of the Mk4 MX-5, and if the preexisting irks have really been ironed out.

To this car, first off. VX68 HFO is a top of the range GT Sport Nav+ RF, which means it wants for very little in terms of standard equipment: there's heated leather, automatic wipers and lights, sat-nav... and, er, a limited-slip diff, strut brace and sports suspension with Bilstein dampers. In actual fact those last bits come as standard on the cheaper Sport Nav+, but GT brings with it a reversing camera (handy with my parking skills) and LED lights, which are already proving worthwhile on dank autumnal evenings.

Rather cheekily, Mazda only offers one colour - Arctic White - as a no-cost option. The other six paint choices - Snowflake White, Soul Red, Jet Black, Eternal Blue, Ceramic and Machine Grey - all cost between Β£550 and Β£790. This car is Machine Grey, which you might argue isn't very exciting for a sports car; however, it's paired very nicely to some dark red leather for a more exotic vibe, and I think there's something to be said for a slightly more subdued sports car. (Promise we'll ask for the soft top in something jazzier.) Beyond colour there's just the one option for GT Sport Nav+ customers, that being whether they want CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. For Β£350, it feels like something of a no-brainer.


So that's how you end up with Β£28,815 of Mazda MX-5. Insert 'you could have an M135i for that' into the comments... now. Or two Up GTIs. Or a Fiesta ST and however much left over. Just some ideas for when the thread invariably turns to that. But besides list prices not really counting for all that much in 2018, there are already cars in the classifieds, like this GT Sport Nav+ Roadster, at less than list price.

So then, wossit like? Really very good actually, as can probably be surmised from the mileage already accrued since taking delivery at our Silverstone Sunday Service a few weeks back. I'll detail exactly what those miles have involved next time, but the initial impressions are very positive: the new steering adjustment noticeably improves the driving position, the engine now has some proper punch to it (even with relatively few miles), and the refinement of a metal roof on motorway slogs has already been appreciated. The fact the roof only moves at walking speed is less endearing, but you can't have everything...

So the signs are good, the facelifted MX-5 appearing to move the perennial Mazda on in convincing fashion. Naturally we'll aim to investigate this further over the coming weeks, pair it up with some rivals and probably pay BBR a visit as well. The MX-5 will be kept busy, that's for sure!


FACT SHEET
Car:
2018 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Skyactiv-G RF GT Sport Nav+
On fleet since: November 2018
Run by: Matt
Mileage: 2,465 (delivered on 1,721)
List price new: Β£27,795 (as standard; price as tested Β£28,815 comprised of Β£350 for Apple CarPlay and Β£670 for Machine Grey Metallic paint)
Last month at a glance: MX-5 makes its mark on the PH Fleet


Author
Discussion

athol

Original Poster:

280 posts

155 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all

I know they are great but the current one really isn't a looker. The proportions are all wrong, missed opportunity. They haven't got it as right as the first one since.

Make it have the proportions of the s2000 and it'll be a winner.

mooseracer

551 posts

115 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Goes to show that looks are subjective as I really like the current shape (RF less so)!

Mr-B

2,165 posts

139 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
mooseracer said:
Goes to show that looks are subjective as I really like the current shape (RF less so)!
Indeed. I was always impressed how the MX5 was lauded as being a great/fun drivers car but could not get passed the looks (of the MK1/2/3) to buy one, then the MK4 came along and I bought one.

redroadster

983 posts

177 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
I like it a lot but open tops are my thing you can have fun and keep your licence intact .

Gilhooligan

1,561 posts

89 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Really wanted to like the RF but it just looks too tall and skinny. The normal soft top looks much better IMO.

PistonBroker

1,753 posts

171 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
mooseracer said:
Goes to show that looks are subjective as I really like the current shape (RF less so)!
Agreed.

Former NA and NC owner and I really like the look of the ND. Especially in that nice red.

It'll be interesting to read the conclusions at the end of this. My NC was a 2.0 so I feel like I might be short-changed by the 1.5, but the back-to-basics element appeals as well. I certainly never felt like the 1.6 NAs I had were short of power.

Sport220

115 posts

20 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
A much more appealing package now that it revs as high as the 1.5 and has a bit more power.

Drove one for a weekend, 1.5 soft top, loved the induction sound, overall driving and lack of inertia, even the interior is very nice and the boot accomodated a travel trolley. Only small niggles were the body roll and pronounced front shape from the driver's seat.

Would love one of these with a supercharger, the Recaro Seats, stiffer anti roll bars, sportier suspension and wheels cool

Luke.

7,923 posts

195 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Sport220 said:
A much more appealing package now that it revs as high as the 1.5 and has a bit more power.

Drove one for a weekend, 1.5 soft top, loved the induction sound, overall driving and lack of inertia, even the interior is very nice and the boot accomodated a travel trolley. Only small niggles were the body roll and pronounced front shape from the driver's seat.

Would love one of these with a turbocharger, the Recaro Seats, stiffer anti roll bars, sportier suspension and wheels cool
So an Abarth then?

Sport220

115 posts

20 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Luke. said:
So an Abarth then?
Not a fan of the 124's looks to be honest, and I find those quad pipes a bit naff. Also the high revving nature, sharp throttle response and linear power delivery is a big plus for me on the Mazda

MajorMantra

843 posts

57 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Former NA owner here who misses his car terribly. I'm always happy to read about the ND as I think there's a decent chance I'll own one at some point.

On the looks front I maintain that the NDs (RF included) look much better in real life than they do in a lot of photos. I'm not really sure why this is.

cib24

795 posts

98 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Huge fan of this car. Recaro buckets with low profile rails would be my first modification.

What do we think BBR will be able to extract out of this new motor N/A given the upgraded internals? Is it just a case of fitting a more aggressive camshaft, opening up the exhaust a bit and a remap for Honda S2000 power levels?

jhonn

1,099 posts

94 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Just bought one of these, my first ever new car and I love it! It's the ND1 with *only* 158bhp but I can't say that I'm missing the extra bhp, reversing camera, higher rev limit and other tweaks that they introduced for the current model.

Compared to other sporty cars that I've owned and driven the light weight and compliancy on bumpy roads are a revelation; it moves about a bit under power over the bumps but I like that kind of feedback. Pleasantly surprised by the quality of the interior materials and how well it seems to be screwed together too.

I know people love to mod them, but I can't think of anything that I'd change on mine, it feels pretty much perfect as it is.

acme

2,147 posts

143 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Another MK4 fan. Despite PH’s love for MX5’s I’ve never particularly cared for them, choosing a MK3 MR2 back in the day, a superb car that I recall wasn’t universally praised in the day, I always felt the odd one out for choosing it when most went Mazda.

Will follow with interest.

Deep Thought

23,720 posts

142 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
We may be ordering one of these come the new year - in pretty much that spec and colour combo only with the auto box.

A tad expensive at list price but great discounts available via brokers

CABC

2,662 posts

46 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
long term fan and owner.
this new engine is interesting. just need to add good coilovers to make it the real deal.
maybe some BBR nasp tuning too. perfect.

WJNB

1,969 posts

106 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Still a plug-ugly gawky thing. You're never going to take a longing look backwards when you park it. Mazda have only got it right style-wise with the Mk1 & 2.
It might only be a tourer & not as agile (which is irrelevant on our congested roads) so for the same price a half decent specified Mercedes SLK/SLC is going be a classier & superior in terms of quality & image.

Deep Thought

23,720 posts

142 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
WJNB said:
Still a plug-ugly gawky thing. You're never going to take a longing look backwards when you park it. Mazda have only got it right style-wise with the Mk1 & 2.
It might only be a tourer & not as agile (which is irrelevant on our congested roads) so for the same price a half decent specified Mercedes SLK/SLC is going be a classier & superior in terms of quality & image.
Having driven both an SLC recently and one of these, the MX-5 runs rings round the SLC, which feels old (which it is) and jittery by comparison.

And the same discounted price gets you only an entry level no optioned SLC180 with 158BHP.

DamnKraut

318 posts

44 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Deep Thought said:
Having driven both an SLC recently and one of these, the MX-5 runs rings round the SLC, which feels old (which it is) and jittery by comparison.

And the same discounted price gets you only an entry level no optioned SLC180 with 158BHP.
And a SLC180 is just underwhelming. A used SLK55 however.... but then again used vs new is apples and oranges

renmure

2,946 posts

169 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
I had an NC and now have an ND convertible and specifically bought it because I think the looks are great. Mind you, I really think the RF version looks awkward from every angle tho.

Deep Thought

23,720 posts

142 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
DamnKraut said:
Deep Thought said:
Having driven both an SLC recently and one of these, the MX-5 runs rings round the SLC, which feels old (which it is) and jittery by comparison.

And the same discounted price gets you only an entry level no optioned SLC180 with 158BHP.
And a SLC180 is just underwhelming. A used SLK55 however.... but then again used vs new is apples and oranges
Indeed smile