Mazda MX-5 RF Sport Nav 2017

DRIVEN: Mazda MX-5 2.0 RF Sport Nav 2017 Review

Following a short test drive of the Mazda MX-5 2.0-litre Sport Nav, here are my thoughts about this all-new roadster:

What’s the Mazda MX-5 2.0 RF Sport Nav all about?

As you will know, the Mazda MX-5 sports car has got a long history, and the focus has always been on doing the very best with the resources you have. For decades the MX-5 range has been creating driving pleasure on both the racetrack and the road.

Here on test, we have the latest MX-5 RF which has an electronic folding metal roof. What does the RF stand for, I hear you say? It is a retractable fastback. The hard roof alters the look of the car, but offers superior noise and heat insolation for the cabin. As you can see below, in Ceramic Metallic paint, the model certainly looks the business.

The vehicle is powered by a 2.0-litre, 160 PS petrol engine matched to a six-speed manual gearbox that powers the rear wheels. This means that the car can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 133mph. It only weighs 1,075kg which improves the handling and fuel efficiency figures.

How does it drive?

If you haven’t driven an MX-5 before, the rumours are true. They are primitive (in a good way), direct in the steering and allow you to make the most out of every brake horsepower.

The Mazda MX-5 still provides all the driving thrills you want and expect from such an iconic car. It seems the brand has gone for the”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach and for that we commend them.

Mazda offers a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 131 PS and a 2.0-litre petrol with 160 PS. You might have guessed this but the more powerful of the two was my favourite engine. It packs a punch and really helps the MX-5 come alive. However, of course, it’s not just about power, the real magic comes in the corners. It still has that raw mechanical feel through the steering which helps to establish exactly what all four corners of the car are doing at any one point. This is one of the characteristics that everyone loves about the MX-5: no matter what speed you take into a corner, you still have a feel for the vehicle’s limits.

The six-speed gearbox in this car works very well with the 2.0-litre engine.  The smooth gear changes make it very enjoyable to use. There is also an automatic gearbox available. However,  there is no need to purchase it unless you know you will be encountering lots of traffic.

The car’s suspension feels well suited to enthusiastic driving: you can feel the road below you but it still feels comfortable.

During my testing, the brakes on the car worked very well on the road. I’m sure the real test will be getting onto the racetrack and testing them at high speed, but for road usage they have great stopping power.

Comparing the RF model to the standard model, there isn’t much difference in how the car drives. If you’re comparing it to the previous generation, the latest version still provides all the thrills but without the discomfort.

What’s it like inside?

The modern interior of the MX-5 has never been as good as it is now. The sharp new design looks fantastic and feels expensive. For such a cost-effective car, this could be a game-changer. On the other hand, the interior is not very spacious but you get what you pay for.

I really liked the exposed paintwork inside the car over the top of the doors, as shown below in the Ceramic colour. The seats, steering wheel and gear stick are all made from leather and look very high quality.

The car tested in Sport Nav trim comes with a satellite navigation system which works exceptionally well. It’s ten times better than the previous version in the old MX-5, which felt like it was retrospectively fitted.

The Experience

The Mazda MX-5 RF appeals to both those that want proper sound insolation and a wrap around coupe feel, but also have a need for that open top adrenaline rush. It’s not an experience that you will get bored of  anytime soon. Looks aside, let’s not forget this is an MX-5. It is so pure that it is the perfect setup to learn and develop your skills as a driver.


The 2017 MX-5 RF makes a great addition to the Mazda family. Not only is it a sports car with great performance figures, it is also very comfortable and handles smoothly. Its entertainment system and safety technology are bang up-to-date. The RF brings with it coupe styling that helps make the model appeal to those that want a fastback with an open top roof. It’s a great looking vehicle that has the best of both worlds.

Check out the 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF review.



Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav 2017
  • Price: £26,945 
  • Engine: 2.0-Litre Petrol
  • Power: 160 PS
  • Torque: 200 Nm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • 0-62mph: 7.3 Seconds
  • Top speed: 133 mph
  • Weight: 1,075 kg
  • Economy combined: 40 mpg
  • CO2: 161 g/km

Author: Paul Hadley