Mazda MX-5 RF

Keeps you smiling

"Still remains the nonstop cheerful-to-drive roadster," said Issam.

The RF's hardtop doesn't drop the MX-5 soul."

"Design is apparently inspired by Italian classics from the 60s."

Since its debut 28 years ago, more than a million MX-5s (Miata) have been sold globally, making it the most widespread two-seat sports car in the world. The success behind the MX-5 can be described by three factors: affordability, reliability and simplicity. I picked up the MX-5 RF on a weekend in Beirut (exactly one year after I drove the MX-5 Roadster) to give you a glance at the difference between the roadster version and the hardtop version. Does the affordability aspect apply in Lebanon with a price tag of $54,990? Let's find out.

It all started when I got a phone call from the PR and marketing team at ANBoukhater, official distributor of Mazda in Lebanon, to drive its newest MX-5. My quick response was, YES! Lucky I did, honestly, because the 2018 Mazda MX-5 RF was a thrill to drive. I took it on a weekend for a spin on our famous winding Lebanese back roads, and believe it or not, for a second I felt like I could soar over the clouds. It was nearly an off the hook experience! The ride was smooth, nimble, and well balanced for cruising on twisting and open roads.

Inside the car, you can notice that high attention has been paid to every detail and positioned to reduce unnecessary distractions. In order to make the experience more intuitive for both driver and passenger, each button, switch, and display has been visually and ergonomically considered - from the form of the door handle, to the angle of the accelerator pedal.

The car is superbly sexy and appealing from the exterior. I'm not saying it is as drop-dead gorgeous as Jaguar's F-TYPE Coupe, but with the RF you can get both worlds of F-TYPE and BMW Z4.

Verdict
After a long weekend on board the new MX-5 RF, I can truly admit that the good news is that it drives just like a regular MX-5. It is probably a bit more stable with the extra weight of 55 kg and the retractable hardtop, but remains a go-kart-like pleasure to drive around our twisty Lebanese mountainous roads. The RF will attract different clientele. My concern is its price tag. The regular MX-5 is at priced $49,990 and the RF is priced at $54,990. I would rather have bought the regular one if it were priced at 40K on the road.

Rivals: Fiat 124 Spider, BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLC, Audi TT
Pros: Super fun to drive, gorgeous exterior and interior, cabin noise is better versus the regular MX-5, cargo capacity not affected
Cons: Expensive price tag, any person taller than 1.82m will not fit easily  
4.5 stars
one word: electrifying

Specs
2.0L, inline-4, 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 200 Nm @ 4,600 rpm
RWD, 6-speed auto
0-100 km/h: 6.3 sec, top speed: 217 km/h, fuel consumption: 8.4 L/100 km
Weight: 1,111 kg

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