Review and Test Drive: 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF

By Paul Riegler on 28 January 2019
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Few events are as highly anticipated as the annual arrival of a Mazda MX-5 Miata. The mid-autumn arrival of the Targa-like sports car brought with it mixed emotions as it was a painful reminder that summer is behind us although not too late in the year to drive an open-topped vehicle.

Since its introduction in 1989, it’s become the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history and Mazda has continued to be true to the Miata’s original mission, even as it’s well into its fourth iteration.

This philosophy continues with the 2019 version of the demi-convertible, which benefits from an updated 2.0-liter Skyline four-cylinder engine. For 2019, the little four banger that could gets a stiffer crankshaft, lighter pistons and connecting rods, as well as larger intake and exhaust values. Both the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic transmissions have been updated to keep pace with the engine. The automatic gets a new final drive as well.


There are smaller differences as well, including the addition of a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a rearview camera on all models.

But first a word about two key letters – “RF” – appended to the model designation. The MX-5 RF was introduced in 2016 as a new version of the fourth generation Miata with a retractable fastback, as Mazda put it (or as some pundits put it, “roof folds”). Similar in some respects to the third-generation Miata’s optional power retractable hard top, the RF is a two-seater targa to its droptop two-seater sibling. In an orchestration that would do Beethoven or Brahms proud, the mere pressing of a button results in the metal panel above the occupants moving into a slot behind the front and only seats. The RF weighs a mere 113 pounds (51.3 kilograms) more than the ragtop and comes with a distinctly different appearance.


Once you’ve pushed the start button and are on the road, the changes become quite evident.

The updated engine now revs higher (redline is 7500 rpm versus the previous 6800) and develops 26 more horses and 3 more pound-feet of torque than the 2018 variant.

The Miata’s steering is precise and sharp; the suspension keeps the car firmly planted on the road and gives it a nimble feel without threatening your kidneys, and the interior design is an example of Japanese minimalist perfection.

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