2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Track Review: The Recipe for Fun

2022 Mazda Miata RF Club racetrack review highlights:

  • The 2022 Mazda Miata is mechanically almost identical to the 2021 car, but now it has body-roll-controlling Kinematic Posture Control and fewer automatic models
  • It doesn’t seem like much on paper, but after driving the 2022 Miata RF Club on a racetrack, KPC genuinely enhances and improves the experience
  • The 2022 Miata isn’t the fastest sports car on a track or autocross course, but it’s assuredly one of the most enjoyable

It doesn’t take much to ruin a classic dish recipe—or improve it. A dash of salt and spice here and there, and suddenly, familiar becomes wonderfully different. And it applies to sports cars like the Mazda Miata just as much as to food. Yes, praising the lightweight, simple Miata—and MotorBiscuit Car of the Year—is practically automotive cliché at this point. But after driving the 2022 Miata RF Club around a racetrack, it’s clear that Mazda’s sports car recipe tastes even more joyous.

The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s performance upgrades aren’t found on the spec sheet

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club
Engine2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower181 hp
Torque151 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Curb weight2452 lbs
0-60 mph time5.9 seconds
Price$38,200 (base)
$39,810 (as-tested)

If you just looked at the numbers, the 2022 Mazda Miata RF doesn’t look any different from its 2021 incarnation. Even the price has barely grown. Instead, Mazda’s tweaked its iconic roadster in subtler but still significant ways.

Firstly, the 2022 Mazda Miata trim lineup got a feature shakeup. If you want an automatic 2022 Miata, you must get the range-topping Grand Touring model. The Sport and Club, meanwhile, are preaching the #savethemanuals gospel because they’re stick-only.

Secondly, as in 2021, the 2022 Miata RF with its fancy buttressed power hardtop isn’t available in Sport trim. But it’s also not technically available in Club trim, either.

See, Mazda differentiates the Miata Club into ‘Club’ and ‘Club w/Brembo BBS Recaro Package’ sub-trims. Both come standard with front strut-tower braces, limited-slip differentials, and Bilstein shocks. The latter, though, adds Brembo brakes, BBS wheels, and Recaro sports seats to that, hence the name. And if you want a ‘base-model’ 2022 Mazda Miata RF, the Club w/Brembo BBS Recaro Package is the minimum price of entry.

But the biggest update is Kinematic Posture Control. Although the Mazda Miata’s body roll is a crucial part of its identity as a communicative sports car, too much body motion isn’t good. However, instead of using stiffer but harsher sway bars—or heavy active ones—the 2022 Miata and Miata RF use their brakes. When you go into a corner, the car brakes the inside rear wheel, which pushes that side up, countering roll. It works similarly to torque vectoring but is far gentler.

And it turns out, the gentle touch can work wonders in the kitchen and on the racetrack.

One subtle change and the manual 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club gave me smiles for days

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When I got into the 2022 Mazda Miata RF Club at a rain-soaked Road America recently, I was fighting two memories in my head. One, I daily-drove an NB Miata for years, including through several Midwest winters. But when I drove the 2021 Miata RF last year at Road America, I felt like the sports car had lost itself slightly. Yes, it was still light, approachable, and communicative, especially in terms of steering, but it felt too roly-poly and top-heavy. So, with some trepidation, I hit the track.

Some things were familiar. The fantastically-strong Brembo brakes, for one, as well as the snug yet comfortable Recaro seats. Which, for the record, accommodate a helmeted head far better than the GR Supra’s thrones. And as in 2021, the 2022 Miata’s shifter has light throws but slots into gates with mechanically satisfying security. Plus, the steering, though light, was the most communicative system I experienced that day.

The ’excessive’ body roll and top-heavy sensation, though? Gone. For sure, the 2022 Mazda Miata RF Club rolls a bit in the corners, but only enough to telegraph exactly what the driver needs to know. Not just in terms of weight transfer, mind you, but grip, too.

The very last corner at Road America, Turn 14, is a sweeping right-hander that, when I drove it, had standing water. If you went in too hot, you’d risk not just sliding the car, but perhaps spinning and crashing it. But that’s the corner where the 2022 Miata RF Club sold itself to me. Through the chassis, suspension, and steering, I could tell with 100% certainty that I was pushing as much as I could. I knew on a fundamental level, that if I went any faster, I’d lose traction because I could feel the tires gripping.

I was already smiling, despite the rainy day, when I set off on my lap. But there, on that last corner, I could feel my grin stretch from ear to ear.

Who cares if it’s fast when you’re having this much fun?

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In addition to time on Road America’s main track, I also got to autocross several cars on the go-kart track the next day. By this point, the weather had gone from foggy rain to bright warm sunshine. So, the convertibles we had on hand, including the 2022 Mazda Miata RF Club, could let in the breeze during our runs.

Long story short, I didn’t set my fastest time in the 2022 Miata RF Club. The 2022 BMW M240i xDrive that was also there was simply too fast. I did, though, set my second-fastest time in the Miata. But while I lapped the course roughly two seconds faster in the BMW, I had far more fun in the Miata. Its modest power output forces you to be smooth, but it also teaches you how to do that and rewards you when you get it right. To parahprase MotorTrend, it’s a good instructor.

Communication and balance have always been why the Mazda Miata gets accolades from everyone from Car and Driver to Consumer Reports. But the 2022 car’s KPC elevates that by reducing the unwanted body feedback to let the important information come through clearer. It genuinely makes an already great sports car recipe better.

And just after I’d changed my car diet, the 2022 Mazda Miata RF Club has got me craving MX-5 again.

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