Speed, torque and power make for a fun driving experience. A refined design, functionality, great fuel efficiency and a solid suspension are certainly an added value for an all-round great sports car. Mazda hit the nail on the head with the 2018 MX-5 RF by combining all these features in a city-friendly roadster. This week, Mexico Automotive Review’s drivers took the 2018 MX-5 RF for a spin on the busy streets of Mexico City to find out what made this the third best-selling sports car in Mexico in 2017.
At first sight, the MX-5 RF stands out for its sober-yet-aggressive lines that scream sportiness and versatility. Its rigid, retractable roof harks back to the Targa versions of a Porsche 911 and is a game changer for open-air driving. Mazda stuck to the principles that have made this two-seater an all-time favorite since its first generation was launched in 1989. A lightweight, RWD layout and a small but powerful engine are key features found in all versions of the latest MX-5 model. But in the 2018 generation, Mazda shows its commitment to innovation in combustion engines with increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The 2018 MX-5 RF delivers an estimated fuel consumption of 18.1 km/l while only emitting 136.1 gCO2/km. Mexico Automotive Review only used around three fourths of the MX-5 RF’s 50-liter fuel tank in a week while testing both its normal and sport modes.
Unlike its soft-top MX-5 brothers, the RF sports a six-gear automatic transmission with paddle shifts in the steering wheel and a manual mode that is 20 percent lighter than its predecessor. Drivers looking to keep a tighter control can shift between gears easily to make the best of MX-5 RF two-liter, 16-valve, 155-hp Skyactiv-G engine either on the highway or on the track. Mazda keeps it simple though, letting the car change gears automatically on everyday commutes.
Between its engine and AT transmission, the MX-5 produces torque of 200Nm at 4,600rpm, delivering swift acceleration that is normally restricted to premium, more expensive sports cars. Thanks to these features, Mexico Automotive Review’s executives were able to beat Waze’s forecasts and make a 6.4km, 22-minute trip from Lomas de Chapultepec to Lomas de Bezares in only 12 minutes despite rush hour.
Because speed means little without comfort and elegance, this car’s infotainment system includes heated seats, a USB-port, a refined nine-speaker Bose audio system and a 7-inch touchscreen where information on fuel efficiency, phone calls and music can be displayed. The MX-5 RF not only offers the possibility to play HD MP3 CDs and high-quality AM/FM radio, but its Bluetooth capabilities enables users to connect their smartphones to play music or take phone calls through buttons on the steering wheel. The only thing the MX-5 RF lacks in terms of infotainment is a GPS navigation system, although it can be acquired as an accessory when the car is ordered.
In terms of safety equipment, the 2018 MX-5 RF comes with front and side airbags, collapsible pedals in case of a frontal collision, ABS brakes with braking assistance and electronic braking distribution and a system that monitors tire air pressure. Another advantage that sets the MX-5 RF apart is its suspension. Driving over potholes and often ill-maintained streets and roads can be a uncomfortable for drivers in Mexico’s metropolis. But the double-wishbone front suspension and independent Multilink rear suspension in this model make streets silky smooth despite bumps.
But why should petrolheads go for the MX-5 RF instead of going for the Nissan’s 370Z, the Subaru BRZ, an Audi TT Coupé or a Mercedes SLC Roadster? MX-5 RF offers everything that can be expected from a top-of-the-line two-seater at a lower price than its direct competitors. At a listed price of MX$481,900 (US$24,150), the Mazda MX-5 RF has a price edge over all other roadsters available in Mexico without compromising performance and responsiveness.
The Mazda MX-5 RF is an ideal sports car for drivers looking for a fast yet functional vehicle that delivers advantages for their daily commutes and occasional road trips and track getaways. Not only does it deliver unparalleled fuel efficiency that is not easily found in the two-seater segment, but its price makes it a great choice for driving enthusiasts wanting to get the best of mass-production conventional vehicles and top-of-the-line sports cars.
Editor’s Note: This post, originally published June 4, has been updated with better quality photographs of the Mazda Mx-5RF.