The Guinness Book of World Records’ best-selling two-seat sports car: 2019 Mazda MX-5 (Miata) RF

Susan Frissell
Editor, WWW

This is not a point one can argue. Anyone who has owned-or even driven a Miata (as we grew up referring to them), knows, this is, indeed, the best little two-seat sportscar out there.

As those in my generation have mused, when growing up in the 1960s, many ached for those British MG’s, Triumphs and of course, the iconic Jaguar XKE. Who could not love these beauties and aspire to owning one.

The bad news, as all know, was that they were not at all dependable. The old joke was “if you owned a Jaguar, you had two. One was always in the shop.”

No matter. We still coveted them. And in Mazda’s wisdom, they knew it too. So, when the little sportster made it over to the U.S. in 1989 as a 1990 model, we were hooked. And as time passed, there were more than one iteration of this little bugger: Our test car for the week, the MX-5 RF edition.

Some debate the value of hardtop vs. soft top. We think both are desirable and perhaps for different driving times. It’s convenient to have a hardtop during cooler months, and when navigating highways, having a quieter cabin is a luxury.

But when temps are upwards of 80 degrees, and the sun is bright in the sky, there’s nothing like the ease and convenience of a soft top. And the Miata’s is so easy to drop at a moment’s notice.

The 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF is for those purists, and those willing to pay an extra $3,000 for the hardtop. Our test 2019 MX-5 RF carried a MSRP of $33,335 and a total price of $36,005. While this may seem like a high price tag lot to many, it’s money well-spent, or so our reasoning goes.

One will have this Miata for years, and with little upkeep. The styling never goes out of fashion, and once a convertible driver, always a convertible driver.

Having assembled more than one million Miatas over the years, those who haven’t spent seat time in the MX-5 have no business criticizing. When Mazda introduced the RF some 18 months ago, adding a retractable roof to the fourth-generation MX-5. They must have known, as the NC model by the end of its life accounted for more than half of the MX-5 sales.

Some owners do make their MX-5 an all-season car. Power windows, cruise control and air conditioning make it all the more practical. The manual soft top can easily be unlatched, thrown over the driver’s shoulder and in five seconds, you’ve gone topless. The soft top is now easier to open and close, but don’t expect much more head room than before. The RF feels even closer inside. In fact, the driver who delivered the MX-5 RF last week was over six feet tall. How he managed that space for 4 hours is amusing.

The MX-5 has been given a bump-at last-in horsepower for the 2019 model year. You can now get your kicks with the 181horsepower engine at 7,000 rpm (17 percent improved). Torque is at 15 lb.ft. at 4,000 rpm.

Roomy trunk space

The RF roof more resembles the targa top. It makes for a quieter cabin, although the newest ragtop iteration is a much better quality soft top. A car buff can argue that while today’s vehicles are easier to drive, they lack the feel of the road. Not so with the Miata, and perhaps that is its number one appeal.

Mazda boasts that the RF hardtop opens and closes in 13 seconds. The switch is located on the dash, easy to see and use. The RF is available in Grand Touring and Club levels. New for 2019 are a standard tilt/telescoping steering column, standard rearview camera, Metallic black wheels, Newly available Smart City Brake and New Traffic Sign Recognition. New packages for 2019 include the New Club i-ACTIVSENSE Package which includes Smart City Brake Support and Lane-Departure Warning, New GT-S package which includes a limited-slip rear differential (our test RF came with this option), Bilstein dampers, shock tower brace and a black roof on the six-speed manual transmission only.

Performance highlights on our RF included a sport-tuned exhaust system, Sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers on manual transmission models, Limited-slip differential on manual transmission models, and shock tower brace on MT only.

The Bose 9-speaker audio system with headrest speakers was a nice upgrade and the sound takes off in this little roadster. Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, along with Adaptive Front-Lighting System are standard highlights with Mazda’s Advanced Keyless Entry. Pushbutton start is also standard.

The 4.6-inch full-color TFT display is easy to read and works fairly simply. However, the controls are located on the center console so setting down your arm/elbow there-a natural driving position-inadvertently turns the channel when you don’t intend to.

This RF offers so many up-to-date features, it would take a page to list them all. Be assured, you’re getting what you pay for. Just to name a few: power automatic door locks, power windows, one-touchdown, clear wind blocker, tire pressure monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, heated power side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated front seats, etc.

No rides for the Frissell Fido Four this time. although someone before us did give a pooch a ride. The Chi’s would easily fit in the front seat; a squeeze for the Whippets. I once transported all four Fidos in my 2003 Corvette-all in the passenger seat! They weren’t happy.


Engine: 2.0L SKYACTIV Inline-NE-Four Cylinder, 181 HP., 7,000 RPM, 151 LB-FT. Torque, 4,000 RPM
Transmission: Rear-Wheel-Drive, Six-Speed Manual
Type of Vehicle: retractable hardtop sports car
Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS
Tires: P205/45R17
Price: As Tested: $33,335; Total price: 36,005; Destination: $$895
Standard Features:Power-retractable hard top, 17-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, limited slip differential, strut tower bar, advanced blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-t… Read More
Options: Machine Grey Metallic paint AND Auburn Napa interior ($600), GT-S package: Limited Slip Differential, front shock, tower brace black roof ($750), Interior package for M/T, alloy pedals, Red engine oil cap, WMX logo ($425)
Weight: 2,453 LBS
Fuel Economy 26/34/29 MPG

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