The MX-5 is definitely usable as a commuter thanks to its road manners and thrifty fuel economy.
Our little 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF GS Sport long-term test car is proving to be one of the hottest cars of the summer both on and off the track. With nothing more than the factory $4,400 Sport Package, which adds Brembo fixed four-piston brake calipers, 17-inch BBS dark forged alloy wheels and Recaro seats; and a set of a set of 205/45R17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport from Michelin Canada, the RF has been tearing up the local autoslalom and delivering outstanding results, thanks to the MX-5’s sporting dynamics and some handy work behind the wheel from my colleagues.
When it came time for me to get well acquainted with the MX-5 though, I had some more mundane aspirations; a week off of work in the mid-summer with a hot little convertible to run around town. It had been a while since I’d last driven our MX-5, but slipping into the comfy yet well bolstered Recaro seats I immediately felt at home. Thanks to the MX-5’s slick shifting six-speed gearbox and perfectly placed pedals, it is so easy and relaxing to make the MX-5 do exactly what you want it to do. Heel-toe downshifts, and leisurely aiming for the apex on all the little corners through my neighborhood, you don’t need to be on the autoslalom to have a great time with the MX-5, which really is the source of the MX-5’s appeal to its wide array of owners and admirers.
Speaking of admirers, despite the classy but subtle Machine Grey paintwork, the MX-5 RF definitely garners looks like few other cars in the sub-$50,000 price point can. The dimensions and proportions are perfect, curves are in all the right places, and the rear buttresses along with the nearly vertical rear window of the Retractable Fastback (“RF’) add a complexity and refinement to the look that the simple ragtop version doesn’t have. The RF drew questions and comments from onlookers both young and old, paying homage to the MX-5’s mass appeal.
The MX-5 spent most of my time with it running local errands with the top retracted, and a couple highway trips across the city where the nicely sealed hardtop and ice cold A/C were definitely appreciated. The car is absolutely perfect around town with its small dimensions, tight turning circle and brisk acceleration made even better by the unique exhaust note emitted from the twin rear tips and filtered into the cabin through the retracted rear window, the perfect wake-up call on an early Sunday morning.
The MX-5 is definitely usable as a commuter thanks to its road manners and thrifty fuel economy, of which I saw an average of 6.4L/100km with lots of city driving. As a primary vehicle though, it’s not without its shortfalls. There is very limited interior storage, and the trunk, while uninhibited by the retracting top, doesn’t offer space for much more than a couple grocery bags. The RF’s retractable top, which adds about $3,300 to the price compared to a similarly-equipped ragtop, does make the interior feel more secure, and likely warmer in the winter too, but it doesn’t do much to reduce road noise on the highway, which has traditionally been an issue in Mazda models.
Those gripes though, are generally par for the course when it comes to sporty little convertibles like the MX-5, and the MX-5 doesn’t just lead the affordable sporty convertible segment, it defines it! While the as tested price of our GS trim level car with Sport Package comes to a slightly steep $43,500, there is nothing else on the market today that delivers the kind of easy and confident fun that the MX-5 does, plus it comes with a slick retractable top, gets better than 7L/100km and, with the right driver, will handily defeat some much pricier more powerful cars on the autoslalom. That’s what these cars are all about, and as a classic British sports car enthusiast, I am glad we have the MX-5 to continue carrying the torch; the automotive world just wouldn’t be right without it.