Fitted like a glove - Mazda's MX-5 Retractable Sportback

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It was just a year ago that I reviewed Mazda’s MX-5 Roadster. Arguably, the most fun I have had in ages. The MX-5 is both raw and real, making it a very charming sportscar. The MX-5 retains traditional sportscar characteristics – it rides super low to the ground, it is powered via its rear-wheels, has a slick short-throw manual gearbox and a naturally aspirated engine. 


The little go-getter was the winner of the World Car of the Year title for 2016. So, I am not alone in my appreciation for its old-school approach that’s mixed with new-age tech. 


Interestingly, and arguably sad, it has been dropped from Mazda’s local line-up. Well, not completely. You see the manual Roadster, that was sold alongside its pricier automatic RF (Retractable Sportback) model, has been dropped.


Being a niche vehicle, Mazda only sells about six or seven units a month. For Mazda, it does not make sound business sense to keep two body styles or even two transmissions in its production line if the market sells low volumes. This part I understand.


So, based on customer and dealership feedback, the entry-level Roadster R441 700 has been dropped. This leaves behind the pricier MX-5 RF automatic at R532 800. I don’t understand this decision.


Perhaps better looking? The RF certainly does not detract from what is an extremely attractive compact sportscar. Instead of the manual folding canvas roof seen on the Roadster, the RF features a fully electronic Targa style convertible. This adds to the sophistication of the vehicle. Just flick the switch and voila, the roof autonomously hides into the boot. The process is a seamless poetic motion. 


You still get the same sassy free revving 118 kW/200 N.m 2.0-L naturally aspirated petrol engine. It is good for a dash to 100 in 8.5 seconds and slips a modest 8.5-L of fuel during a mixed driving pattern. 


Its real charisma is its tight-as-a-glove chassis. Its design makes the seating experience and steering exhilarating. As you manoeuvre the compact sports car, it feels as if your bum is sitting on the car’s axis point. Low to the ground, the MX-5 seems as if you could slide underneath some high-rise SUVs. Decaffeinated fun, the adrenaline is real, but the thrill is not scary. There is just the right amount of joy with a perfectly honed prescription of naughty from Mazda. 


Plus +

The last of the real and raw sportscars.





Minus - 

Super niche. 

Tiny interior – so not for people over 6.” tall.


The competition 

Audi A3 Convertible, BMW 2 Series Cabriolet, MINI Convertible and Toyota GT86.



MX-5 2.0 RF R551 700


Service and warranty

The Mazda MX-5 is sold with a three-year service plan with unlimited mileage.


My Choice

The old 2.0 Roadster-Coupe


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