Mazda MX-5 RF GT: Hands-on review

Posted: 10 April 2019 5:43 pm
News

Mazda MX-5 RF GT Reviewed by Finder Image: Finder

A sports car for grown-ups – but not too grown up.

My favourite game as a kid was Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec on PlayStation 2. It was a fantastic game and I believe a lot different to the Gran Turismo games produced today. Not only were the graphics great (for the time) and the racing realistic, but you could buy virtually any vehicle and modify absolutely everything about it. Turbocharger? Check. Need different gear ratios? Done. More camber? Easy.

When you start the game, you can only choose between a few cars. Every single time I would pick the Mazda MX-5 (or the Miata as it is called in the US). By the time you have enough money to purchase your next car, the MX-5 inevitably had way too much power for its light frame. It would leave everyone in the dust until you smashed into the barrier at corner one – it was great fun.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to taking a trip down memory lane and driving the MX-5 – without that first corner issue. The model we got our hands on was the 2018 Mazda MX-5 RF GT, which comes with a manual transmission and a hardtop convertible roof. It cost slightly more than the 17,000 credits it cost in the game, with the RRP being $49,920. The MX-5 GT RF we tested came in at $50,396 as it had the option of premium paint ($300) and floor mats ($176.40).

In "machine grey metallic", the RF GT looked the part with the front being particularly aggressive. It's much more intimidating than the MX-5 that started production in the 80s and continued on through the 90s, with the lights that popped up and down. And I'd definitely be purchasing those 17-inch alloys in-game.

Mazda have stepped their game up on the interior, too. The cabin features leather as well as well-thought-out finishes and dials throughout. We just drove the Toyota 86 GTS and the interior of the MX-5 feels more grown up as opposed to its counterpart, which has much more of a young, street racer feel. You get heated leather seats, leather-accented doors and the leather-look dash, which is actually hard plastic, has been executed well.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT Interior Image: Finder

Moveable cup holders will keep your cups at bay although we noticed that they struggled with basic 600ml water bottles. These can be positioned either down near the passenger's legs or in the centre console just behind where you would rest your arm. There is also a storage bin between the passenger and driver seats that has a decent amount of space; however, it will be awkward to get to as a driver. The MX-5 doesn't have a traditional glove box meaning cabin storage is at a minimum, as you would probably have already expected from a vehicle of this size.

Two USB ports come as standard to keep your devices charged. And while there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality as standard, there is nothing inherently wrong with the infotainment system in place. It is quite easy to use and connect up with your phone. You get satellite navigation and a voice assistant, which worked decently enough without being spectacular. There will be times you end up just using the touchscreen or console control to make things easier. There is also a console volume control too which is a great inclusion for passengers.

There is no dual climate-control in the little MX-5, but the air conditioning does a great job of getting to temperature quickly. There are also the gimbal style air vents that we appreciated on the Kia Stinger GT.

The leather seats leave a little to be desired as they seemed to be lacking some lumbar support. It isn't really going to be an issue if you are doing some spirited driving, but if you are using the MX-5 as a daily driver, you may find the seats a bit uncomfortable. It could just be a height thing, as at just over six feet tall, my head was touching the roof. It is a shame that we had so much rain during our time with the car since having the top down would have remedied that to some degree.

You get all the usual suspects when it comes to steering wheel controls. Volume and track selection for audio, cruise control as well as the voice assistant and trip computer. They're all well positioned and easy to use. There is also telescopic adjustment so you can dial in your optimal driving position.

Out on the road, the MX-5 RF GT seems like it has much more power than the 135kW produced by the SkyActiv 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. Having a kerb weight of just 1,087kgs to haul around, the performance is very impressive.

SkyActiv is the name given to Mazda's fuel efficiency technology and practices. By increasing compression ratios, Mazda is able to extract 15% more torque and fuel efficiency from its engines. We noticed it too, seeing a fuel consumption low of 6.7L/100km, a figure that is below the 6.9L/100km Mazda has said you can expect in the RF GT.

The manual six-speed transmission we tested was fantastic too. Great to interact with and with smooth shifts, moving the short gear stick through the gears does nothing but put a smile on your face … and switch cogs, of course.

The ride is firm but forgiving and as expected steering is precise. As far as ride and driving dynamics, the MX-5 with its near 50:50 weight distribution is a great example of a sports car. In fact, the only complaint you can really have when driving this machine will be the wind noise when travelling at speed on highways.

A plethora of safety technology is fitted to the MX-5 RF GT. Emergency brake assist, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, hill launch assist, Smart City Brake Support and blind spot monitoring just to name a few. The latter coming in handy as blind-spot visibility over your right shoulder is non-existent.

If you are old-school when reversing and throw your left arm around the passenger seat, you're going to cringe the first few times you reverse in the MX-5. The plastic shield between the seats is going to put paid to that and you're just going to bash your elbow and break it. You're going to need to rely on the reversing camera and an unassisted twist for reversing from now on – great for building up those obliques.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT Boot space Image: Finder

Boot space is at a premium at 127 litres. You can fit a suitcase in there, but will need to be smart about stacking due to the "stepped" layout of it. We did manage to tuck a camping chair in there although it reached the width of the boot and didn't leave much room above.

The Verdict

Tipping the scales at just over a tonne, this lightweight sports car is fantastic to drive and feels a lot quicker than it is.

If you are in the market for an MX-5, storage space isn't going to be a priority, but given the vehicle's size, you might want to check and see how well you fit in the car if you are six foot or over.

Another consideration is that as of 1 April 2019, all new Mazda vehicles come with five-year Premium Roadside Assistance with 24-hour roadside support across Australia.

Compare some options to finance a Mazda MX-5 RF GT

1 - 17 of 17
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Monthly Repayment View Details CTA
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From
4.49%
(fixed)
5.31%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.49% p.a. to 13.59% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $79,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.49% p.a. to 13.59% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $79,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From
3.69%
(fixed)
4.23%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.69% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.23% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.69% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.23% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Variable)
From
2.99%
(variable)
3.53%
You'll receive a variable rate from 2.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a variable rate from 2.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
IMB New Car Loan
4.88%
(fixed)
5.23%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From
3.99%
(fixed)
4.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.99% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.99% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From
5.35%
(fixed)
5.65%
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
Plenti Car Loan
From
5.99%
(fixed)
6.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
RACV New Car Loans
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
NRMA New Car Loan
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan
6.79%
(fixed)
7.16%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
SocietyOne Car Loan
From
5.45%
(fixed)
5.45%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.45% p.a. and p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.45% p.a. and p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Latitude Personal Loan
From
5.75%
(fixed or variable)
6.68%
You'll receive a variable or fixed rate between 5.75% p.a. and 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
You'll receive a variable or fixed rate between 5.75% p.a. and 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From
6.24%
(fixed)
6.94%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
loans.com.au - New - Prime Special (Fixed)
5.09%
(fixed)
5.64%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.09% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.09% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

Special Offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (6+ years)
From
4.29%
(variable)
4.83%
You'll get a variable rate from 4.29% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 for a used car for 6+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
You'll get a variable rate from 4.29% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 for a used car for 6+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
loans.com.au - Used Car Loan (8+ years)
From
8.19%
(variable)
8.75%
You'll get a variable rate of 8.19% p.a.
Borrow up to $50,000 for a used car for 8+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
You'll get a variable rate of 8.19% p.a.
Borrow up to $50,000 for a used car for 8+ years, with no monthly fee.

Special offer: Settle the loan before 30 June 2022 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. Terms and conditions apply.
Stratton Finance Used Car Loan
From
3.99%
(fixed)
4.54%
You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 3.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.54% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 3.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.54% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Compare car insurance side-by-side and get quotes

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2021 Finder Award for Car Insurance - Value in QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA and Car Insurance - Features in NSW, VIC, WA, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If your car is damaged, you could benefit from a one-week turnaround on repairs.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: QBE is a sustainable insurance company and also Finder's Green Insurer of the Year 2021 award winner. This policy offers the highest level of protection available from QBE including three-year new car replacement.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those that are looking for a more environmentally friendly insurance choice.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder’s summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums. Its Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to its standard comprehensive cover.

⭐ Current offer: Get free roadside assistance* for 12 months when you sign up by 30 June. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $150 off your first year’s premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
KOBA Pay per KM
Agreed
Finder's summary: KOBA car insurance uses a pay-per-km system – ideal if you drive less. It offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, hail, fire and 3rd party damage.

⭐ Finder Exclusive: Receive a $150 visa gift card to use as you wish with promo code: Find2022. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Anyone who doesn't drive that much or want to limit how much they're on the road.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Like our content? Follow Finder Garage on instagram

Get more from Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site