Author:  Neil Lyndon - 06 December 2021

Mazda MX-5 RF, a sportscar to love

I’m in love again. It’s a miracle. I felt certain it would never happen. I was convinced I was a goner.

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The sap was never going to rise again in this desiccated old husk of a human, I was sure. Then along came the latest Mazda MX-5 and – hallelujah! – I am reborn.

After an endless succession of humdrum SUVs and worthy-but-oh-so-dull electrics, I had forgotten the delirium of loving a car so much you would get up at dawn to take it out on empty roads with nowhere in particular to go, simply to enjoy its pleasures. I had forgotten that sense of rapture that comes from bonding with a car so closely that you feel totally connected in body and mind. I had forgotten the delight of being tailed by a nuisance of a GTI whose driver is obviously determined to teach you a lesson just because you’re at the wheel of a shiny little sports car; and then you put the hammer down in the MX-5 through some twisty bits and – presto! – the GTI is left wallowing like a lump of lead in your slipstream.

Very few cars on earth can deliver this combination of delights. The front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive MX-5 is the prime practitioner and always has been ever since it first appeared in 1989. I have owned several of them in the 32 years since I was first stunned by the sight of a Miata on the streets of Los Angeles and marvelled at that tuned exhaust note. During those years, I have also driven many more on test and I can truly say the MX-5 never fails to make you feel “This is the best sports car that has ever been made: why would you want anything else?”

I was blown away by everything about the two-litre RF 184ps GT Sport Tech version, which came to us on loan last week. I loved the combination of reds and blacks between the Soul Red Crystal of the body, the black panel of the retractable hard-top and the gun-metal of the 17” alloys. Pure class to my eyes. I was enraptured by the nine-speaker Bose audio system and the 7” screen for the infotainment system which, for my money, is the best on the market – chiefly because it is so easy to operate safely through the knurled knob on the centre console which allows you to scroll and make selections without having to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Some aspects of this car can’t fail to remind you that it is primarily designed for people in the spring of their lives rather than late autumn. A lidded pocket in the stanchion between the seats is impossible to open without a callisthenics session to warm up for the exercise. Similarly, any vessel in the cupholders below that pocket had better stay in place until you have stopped the car because trying to get it out and take a sip while you’re on the move is bound to result in an embarrassing puddle on your trousers.

However, my only regret from my week with the MX-5 is that the November weather in Scotland was always too cold and wet to make opening the roof an inviting prospect. Driving around in a closed MX-5 is missing half the point.

Therefore, Mazda will just have to send this car back in May and leave it until October to get a fair report.

Author Rating 4/5

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