Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Virtually identical to soft-top MX-5’s cabin
  • Well-positioned pedals a highlight
  • Clearly-displayed instruments and rev-counter

The cabin is essentially identical to the soft-top Mazda MX-5’s, with the addition of the switch for the roof mechanism next to the air-con controls being the only real change. In certain markets Mazda will offer the RF with brighter interior colours than the soft-top, to emphasise its more ‘deluxe’ market proposition.

The steering wheel is relatively large, like that of a classic car, and the pedals are nicely positioned, with a floor-mounted accelerator pedal for more precise throttle control.

A large rev counter sits centre stage in the clear, neatly designed instrument panel, flanked by a clearly legible speedo and a separate digital dial with trip computer data.

A 7.0-inch colour multimedia screen sitting on top of the centre of the dashboard is beginning to look a little small nowadays, but functions perfectly well. The freestanding tablet-style fitment means there's nothing to shield it from sunlight when the roof is down, however, meaning it can be difficult to read at times.

Mazda MX-5 RF roof switch

When the car’s stationary it can be used as a touchscreen, while on the move that function is sensibly disabled and the screen’s displays are controlled by a transmission tunnel-mounted rotary dial, making it easier to concentrate on the road.

Comfort

  • Taller drivers may struggle to get comfortable
  • More refined than soft-top MX-5 with the roof up
  • Soft suspension means impressive ride comfort

How comfortable you find the Mazda MX-5 RF probably depends partly upon how tall you are. If you’re 5ft10in or under, it’s an easy car to get comfy in, with a classic sports car straight-legged driving position. Taller drivers will find headroom tight, and the transmission tunnel steals a bit of space in the footwell, too.

The MX-5’s steering column adjusts for rake (height) but, as of 2018, reach as well, which makes a big difference. The seats are a little flat and thinly-padded, so long-distance journeys may take their toll after a while. That said, keep a look out for limited edition models either in the future or if you buy used - models such as the 30th Anniversary came fitted with fantastic Recaro seats that are both more supportive and generously padded.

An auto-dimming rear view mirror may not seem like a great deal on a regular hatchback, but with the low-slung MX-5, you'll find that most headlights behind you will beam directly onto it. Thankfully, this feature became more widely fitted across the range over the years, and can be found on Sport models and upwards. This will be worthwhile especially in the winter months when you drive a higher proportion of time in darker conditions.

With the roof closed, the MX-5 RF is noticeably quieter on the motorway than the soft-top version, although with the roof open there’s a great deal of wind noise to put up with above 55mph or so – more so with than the soft-top, in fact (despite its wind deflector in place). There's still plenty of road noise, which is expected in this type of car, and while the sound system does struggle to drown it all out, the headrests do have neatly built-in tweeters to help overcome this.

The RF does come with firmer suspension over the soft-top roadster to deal with the added weight of the roof. It's never uncomfortable, but it doesn't glide down the road quite as well as the roadster - which seems a slight mismatch considering this could perhaps be viewed as the more relaxed variant of the two. In the grand scheme of things though, ride quality remains comfortable for a sports car, with relatively soft suspension to soak up speedbumps and potholes.

The 1.5-litre cars have smaller 16-inch wheels, offering a marginally smoother ride than the 2.0-litre’s combination of larger 17s and sports suspension.

There are some subtle differences to help make the RF feel a little more relaxing to drive, with lighter pedals and a slightly more sedate power delivery. The engines are also quieter, with less of a bark from the 2.0-litre under acceleration. The engines are quite noisy outside the vehicle, though, when starting from cold.