Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Two naturally-aspirated engines on offer
  • Larger 2.0-litre motor delivers best performance
  • All versions are slower to 62mph than MX-5 soft top

What engines are available in the Mazda MX-5 RF?

The Mazda MX-5 isn’t the fastest car in the world, and that’s fine – it’s more about enjoying winding roads than winning drag races. The RF weighs 40 to 45kg more than the MX-5 soft-top, which makes it ever so slightly slower.

Cars with the 2.0-litre engine feel markedly quicker than the 1.5, so that’s the one to go for if you’re in a hurry. A 2.0-litre MX-5 RF will get from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds (or 7.9 seconds with the optional automatic gearbox), and go on to a top speed of 137mph (124mph in the auto). Power output was uprated from 160hp in late 2018 to 184hp, bringing a higher 7,500rpm rev-limit with it.

Mazda MX-5 RF engine

Although it’s 1.9 seconds slower to 62mph (8.7sec) and has a lower top speed of 126mph, some drivers prefer the smaller, manual-only 1.5-litre engine as it feels more eager to rev and sounds slightly fruitier. With 132hp and less torque on hand, you’ll notice the difference when faced with a steep hill, but whichever engine you pick you’ll be having too much fun to care.

  • Nimble handling makes the MX-5 RF a joy to drive
  • Upgraded performance parts on 2.0-litre models
  • Tight turning circle makes it easy to drive around town

How does the Mazda MX-5 RF drive?

The Mazda MX-5 RF is wonderful fun to drive. Like the soft-top MX-5, the RF is a car with nimble, involving and engaging handling at any speed.

To counteract the slightly higher centre of gravity created by the heavier roof mechanism, it has been given marginally firmer suspension settings than the soft-top MX-5. Plus, with recalibrated power steering, there’s slightly better feedback through the wheel.

Ride comfort hasn’t been sacrificed with these tweaks but the suspension struggles to contain the weight at higher speeds, with the RF’s bodyroll being more pronounced than on the equivalent roadster.

All 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5 RF models come with a limited-slip differential as standard, which enables slightly more precise handling, especially in slippery conditions. Choose the 2.0-litre in top Sport Nav+ trim and it also comes with firmer Bilstein Sport suspension, offering tighter body control.

An excellent turning circle makes it a very easy car to drive in town, and once you’ve got used to sitting near the rear wheels, it’s one of the easiest cars around to park – although the RF’s roofline buttresses obscure over-the-shoulder visibility slightly.