Christopher Little

Auld Lang Syne: 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Of course not! That’s why we gather friends and family together at the end of the year gone-by to celebrate the start of a fresh trip ’round the sun. It’s remarkable to look back and reflect on how much can change in a single year. That rings true for us here at Limited Slip Blog, but it also stands true for the Mazda MX-5. Mazda’s engineers have been hard at work enhancing the Miata just in time for 2019.

2019 Mazda MX5 RF Club 1

Mazda’s powertrain engineers took the MX-5’s lightweight ethos to heart for this refresh. They shaved 27 grams from each piston, 41 grams from the connecting rods, and redesigned the intake ports. Other changes include new fuel injectors, revised exhaust valve angle and lift, a larger manifold diameter, and a new exhaust system. Power output has increased to 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft torque. These changes also allowed the MX-5’s redline to be raised from 6800 rpm to 7500 rpm. Combine the broader torque curve with an all-new dual-mass flywheel and the engine feels sharper, smoother, and much more responsive. It isn’t all rosy, however. Despite the improvements, a new Federally-mandated back-up camera and Mazda’s inclusion of traffic sign recognition and Smart City Brake Support mean the 2019 MX-5 has gained 7 pounds. Engineers did save a bit of weight by changing out the steel steering shaft for an aluminum one, but apparently speaker-integrated headrests still don’t raise any eyebrows. C’mon Mazda, you don’t need headrest speakers with that new exhaust sound!

2019 Mazda MX5 RF Club 4

Climb into the 2019 MX-5 and there aren’t many changes to hint at all the work put in under the hood. A telescoping steering wheel is the only welcome addition I noted, though Mazda says the doors are now easier to open and the cupholders have been redesigned. My right elbow consistently bumps those annoyingly-placed cupholders when shifting. In the MX-5, my 6’2″ frame needs every inch of room it can find, so the first thing I always do put the cupholders in the glove box. Wearing boots and a bulky coat don’t help the size situation either. As I found out last fall, the MX-5 RF just feels too small. The weather was also not kind during my week of driving, unlike the last winter week we spent with the MX-5. Other than a few hours of top-down weather, it was either snowing or raining, which meant the top stayed up. The RF has a 6mph limitation to the roof’s operation, which make the 13-second operating time feel like an eternity in the cold.

2019 Mazda MX5 RF Club 5

This is our first experience with this generation MX-5 Club. This trim has several visual and dynamic differences from the Grand Touring models we previously tested. A black front air dam, rear lip spoiler, and mirror caps are included as part of the Club’s appearance package. The Club trim also comes with sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and a front shock tower brace as standard. When equipped with a manual transmission, as our tester was, a limited slip differential is also included. The Club trim also has an optional Brembo/BBS Recaro Package for added performance benefit. This $4,670 package, as described, adds Brembo front brakes, BBS forged 17″ dark gunmetal wheels, and heated Recaro sport seats. If that wasn’t enough, it also adds a black roof, black side sill extensions, and a black rear bumper skirt.

2019 Mazda MX5 RF Club 2

The 2019 MX-5 Club is the most engaging and dynamic Miata we’ve ever tested. The sport suspension and added stiffness of the strut tower brace help the car feel on its toes, poised to change direction at any moment. Our MX-5 arrived on Bridgestone Blizzak tires, which gave us the most grip possible for the driving conditions. The snow tires and limited slip differential made for an enormous amount of fun in slippery situations. The powertrain enhancements also improve the driveability of the MX-5 immensely. More immediate power often means one less downshift and several thousand extra top-end revs to explore. Of course, the telescoping steering wheel and Recaro sport seats also help make the Mazda’s cabin feel better suited for the job. The 2019 MX-5 couldn’t be this good if it weren’t for the generations and years of development gone bye. We’re positive Mazda will be reflecting on that growth as it celebrates 2019.

-Christopher Little

2019 Mazda MX-5 Club RF
Appearance Package N/C
Interior Package for M/T $425
Brembo/BBS Recaro Package w/Black Roof $4,670
Destination Charges $895
As Tested MSRP $38,335

Quick Spin: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF
Colder Weather: 2016 Mazda MX-5

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