A Willing Dance Partner
Much has been told about the Mazda MX-5. Its story about having excellent handling and a supremely fun driving experience has been a well written one. For 2019, Mazda introduced a host of mechanical changes and a new variant to the world’s best-selling sportscar, giving it more power, improved driveability, and more technology. This is the new MX-5 RF Club Edition variant, which mainly gets a host of aesthetic upgrades on top of the aforementioned mechanical improvements. Are the aesthetic upgrades worth getting the MX-5 RF Club Edition over the other variants? Let’s find out.
The design has been unchanged since the MX-5 came out in 2016. It’s still the familiar shape we’ve come to know, with its classic long hood, short rear deck proportions. The RF continues to carry the hardtop design with its instantly recognizable buttresses. It’s a design trait that will easily go into the history books as an instant classic. Coated with an extremely eye-catching and seductive Soul Red Crystal paint, the Mazda MX-5 RF looks really good, easily capturing the attention of bystanders and other drivers. With an MSRP of P2,680,000, this Club Edition adds 17-inch BBS alloy wheels, which cost P80,000 apiece.
The inside is also unchanged since this generation came out. It’s only the addition of a color TFT LCD screen that’s noticeable. Even then, it blends well with the analog dials. What many drivers will appreciate is the addition of a telescoping steering wheel. The rest of the interior feels relatively plush and premium. Hard plastics dominate the interior, but the leather dashboard trim makes it feel really upmarket. This Club Edition adds a smattering of Alcantara surfaces as well as Recaro bucket seats. The bucket seats hold you in place well, but it further contributes to the already snug interior space. It also costs P250,000 each when purchased separately.
Practicality-wise, maybe two duffle bags will fit at the back, but that’s about it. There’s also no glove box. In its place is a storage bin between the seats, and there are also no integrated cupholders. All you get is a pair of detachable ones. Oh, and the passenger side has to suffer from an extra hump on the floor.
Impractical the MX-5 is, but the car does know how to live in the 21st century. MZD Connect is a joy to use. Like what I always say, the knob controller will always be less distracting to use than a touch screen. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. On the upside, a 9-speaker Bose sound system sounds great if you fancy hearing the tunes from your smartphone rather than from the engine bay.
So it’s snug, small, and impractical, so what makes the MX-5 so special then? Well, it starts the moment you press the engine starter button.
Its changes for 2019 are all under the hood. The 2.0-liter inline-4 Skyactiv-G petrol engine now produces 184 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 205 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. The increase in power and torque figures weren’t necessary, but then again more power never hurt anyone. Apart from the increase in power figures, its redline has also been increased by 500 rpm. Combined with the rev-happy nature of this engine, the sound is indeed intoxicating. She’s now a soprano from an alto. Her voice lessons have done her well, a soothing orchestra that will raise your hair.
Oh and in case you do care, it also has an engine start/stop and regenerative braking system to save fuel.
Let’s talk about the steering because this is what forms the connection between the driver and the car. As ever, it’s still very precise, accurate, and responsive. It’s an electric power steering system, and yet it feels delicately precise and with a decent amount of feel. It’s a willing dance partner, one that is as intimate as holding the hands of your prom date.
And oh boy is she willing to dance. She’s light, which means that the engine does not need a lot of power to get this car going. At the same time, the suspension doesn’t need to be stiff, resulting in an excellent ride quality (for a sports car). Her body movements are composed, and while a bit of roll is dialed in, it’s for you to feel her movements as she dances through each corner. She’s as smooth as Micheal Jackson on a velvet suit—willing to oblige with smoothness and agility.
Every drive of the MX-5 is an occasion. With a 6-speed automatic transmission, many enthusiasts may be left scratching their heads, and while I’d prefer the privilege of rowing my own gears, the automatic isn’t bad either. As a matter of fact, when in manual mode, the paddle shifters are as responsive as they get. It even rev matches when you downshift, so there’s no compromise at all when getting the automatic.
The brakes finally seal the deal. They’re sharp and firm, a willing partner when your dance is about to go wrong. They’re not the ones from Brembo, but with her svelte weight, there’s no need for it.
If you do decide to invite your prom date home, you’d be happy to know that she ain’t high maintenance. Though a diet of 95 octane fuel is what she’s most happy with, she consumes her fuel a lot more efficient than she used to, averaging at a very efficient 10.7 km/l under a week’s worth of use. She’s a varsity athlete, yet she has the appetite of a grade-schooler.
Now, why would you buy a Mazda MX-5? Well, it’s never gonna be anyone’s primary car, but if you do have the privilege, its definitely a sports car that connects to the driver in a way that no other car can, even when compared to something that costs a lot more than the MX-5. It’s a car that fulfills no other purpose in life but to satisfy one’s craving for the open road, and frankly, these are the types of cars that are a rarity at this price point.
Priced at P2,680,000, the Mazda MX-5 RF Club Edition is an excellent value for those who seek those Recaro bucket seats (P250,000 each) and BBS alloy wheels (P80,000 per piece) since this saves you a massive amount of money when compared to buying all these separately. For my personal tastes though, I’d rather get the MX-5 RF Nappa Leather with a manual transmission, since this adds Bilstein shocks and a limited slip differential, but that’s just me.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★☆☆☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.4 out of 5