Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT: Hands-on review

Posted:
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

{"visibility":"visibilityTable","ctaLabel":"Calculate","tableCode":"AUFCL_COMPARISON_V2_TABLE","nicheCode":"AUFCL","fields":[{"name":"LOAN_AMOUNT","value":"30000","options":"","label":"Loan amount","suffix":"$","useSuffixAsPrefix":true,"useDropDownOption":false,"tooltip":""},{"name":"PERIOD","value":"3","options":"","label":"Loan term","suffix":"years","useSuffixAsPrefix":true,"useDropDownOption":false,"tooltip":""}]}
Name Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Application Fee Monthly Fee Monthly Repayment
loans.com.au - New - Variable Rate Special
Variable3 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.24%
to 7.74%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.36%
to 8.85%
Application Fee
$400
Monthly Fee
$8
Monthly Repayment
$936.14
Go to siteMore Info
OurMoneyMarket New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.57%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.19%
to 21.78%
Application Fee
$250
min.
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$934.23
Go to siteMore Info
Verified Lending Used Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $10,000 - $200,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.1%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8.06%
to 22.99%
Application Fee
$395
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$939.9
Go to siteMore Info
NRMA New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $130,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.29%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$945.77
Go to siteMore Info
Note: Take out a loan for an eligible electric vehicle and receive a 1.5% discount on your personalised interest rate (interest rates start from 5.79% p.a. and comparison rates from 6.49% p.a.)
OurMoneyMarket Used Car Loan - No Vehicle Age Limit
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.57%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.19%
to 21.78%
Application Fee
$250
min.
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$934.23
Go to siteMore Info
NRMA Used Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $130,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
8.49%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
9.21%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$962.64
Go to siteMore Info
You'll receive a fixed rate from 8.49% 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 - Variable Rate Used Car < 5 years
Variable3 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.74%
to 7.74%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8.85%
to 8.99%
Application Fee
$400
Monthly Fee
$8
Monthly Repayment
$956.98
Go to siteMore Info
loading
Showing 7 of 7 results

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: The 2024 winner of our Best Value Car Insurance award. It's cheaper than most, plus you can lower costs by adding age restrictions.

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

Who it might be good for: Anyone who wants a good value policy.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2023 winner of our Best Features Car Insurance award. Plus, it's one of the only insurers to automatically include roadside assistance.

Who it might be good for: Those who want good customer service with lots of inclusions.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Covers a little more than other insurers. You don’t need to pay an excess for windscreen repairs and cover applies to anyone who uses your car.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off your first year's comprehensive car insurance premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Multiple people using one car.
ROLLiN' Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: One of the most cost-effective insurers for under 25s, according to Finder research, with no aged-based excess.

Who it might be good for: Young drivers looking to keep costs down and anyone who’d like to get more flexibility from their car insurance.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Our best-rated Car Insurer for Customer Satisfaction in 2021/2022 and Green Insurer for the last 3 years.

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

Who it might be good for: Those who want a trustworthy insurer and more cover than other brands, such as 3-year new car replacement (e.g. they'll give you money for a new car for up to 3 years if yours is written off).
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary: Our data shows it’s the cheapest comprehensive policy. It just covers the basics such as damage to your car, theft and storms – it doesn’t go in for add-ons and extras.

Who it might be good for: Those wanting a low-cost, no-frills policy.
Kogan Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Kogan comes with all the perks that most comprehensive car insurance policies include, but you'll also be entitled to some benefits from its online store. This usually comes in the form of a gift voucher or discount if you buy online.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off first year premiums when you purchase Kogan Comprehensive Car Insurance online + $10 monthly kogan.com credit. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Kogan shoppers and those after a good range of policy options.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You need car insurance so why not get one that lets you earn Qantas Points? It's good value too (it's underwritten by the same insurer as Budget Direct).

⭐ Current offer: Earn up to 30,000 Qantas Points with every Qantas Car Insurance policy you take out by 28 May. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want more bang for their buck with Qantas Points.
loading

Like our content? Follow Finder Garage on instagram

Ask a Question

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 1. Terms Of Service and 6. Finder Group Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site