If you check out the landing page for the 2020 Mazda MX-5 RF on Mazda USA’s website, you’ll be met with a short video of a man in a suit getting in one and slowly driving down the road. There are no pictures of the MX-5 on the race track or any heart-pumping graphics or music that you would probably expect for a car like this. Instead, there are images of well-dressed, modelesque people looking good in the car and around it. Does that mean, that this version of MX-5 is grown-up and more sophisticated than convertibles from the past?
We have to hand it to Mazda, the MX-5 Miata has been in the U.S. market for the past 30 years without even skipping a beat. It outlasted the venerable Honda S2000 and outclassed the unrefined Saturn Sky roadster. We can now consider the Mazda MX-5 the “king of the hill” amongst all of the small, rear-drive convertibles that have come and gone and it’s probably not going away any time soon.
There aren’t many changes for the 2020 model year aside from the sport-tuned suspension that’s now standard on the Grand Touring trim, as well as the new Polymetal Gray exterior color and Red Nappa Leather interior, which is the exact configuration that our test car came in. In our opinion, it’s the perfect combination to exude the elegance and sophistication of the MX-5’s mature styling, like pairing a perfectly cooked steak to a glass of fine red wine.
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Slipping into the driver’s seat of the Mazda MX-5 RF, the first thing we noticed was how comfortable the cabin feels. Yes, it’s a little tight, so anyone taller than six feet might not fit, but it feels classy. There are soft-touch materials on the dash and center console, and the Nappa leather seats are comfortable, although they could use a little more lateral support. Even the leather-wrapped steering wheel looks functionally sophisticated as it matched the red interior perfectly and even fits our hands perfectly at 9 and 3.
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Even its driving dynamics are refined
While the aforementioned roadsters from Honda and GM were loud and raw-feeling, this new MX-5 RF is almost the opposite. Thanks to the sound-deadening, extra interior materials, and the hardtop, you would be hard-pressed to know that you were sitting in a Miata if you were blindfolded. It’s that smooth, and so is the engine. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that pumps out 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque and, judging from the Miata’s we have driven in the past, the extra power was much-needed.
With a 7,500 rpm redline and a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission, it’s easy to wring the car out for all of its power and get to the speed limit in a hurry. There is some body roll in the corners, but it’s actually a good thing as it makes the car’s weight balance easy to feel. This type of predictable communication is what the roadsters of the past were missing as it provides a soft, smooth ride without subtracting from the car’s overall agility.
It’s clear that sophisticated driving fun is what the Mazda MX-5 RF is all about and we can’t wait to drive it some more. Luckily, wearing a suit is not required.