The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a real driver's car. While there are faster and more prestigious cars on the market, they will come with a higher price tag. The Miata, on the other hand, is a different breed. When you hit the road, the Miata will stand out from every other car. Styling-wise (especially the RF), very few sports cars can match it, and we would argue even fewer are more fun to drive. The Miata has been delighting drivers for three decades, and we see no sign of Mazda slowing down in that regard.
Safety & Tech Features
Limited Storage Space
We had the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring this week, and it came at the right time. There is still plenty of summer left, and it’s the perfect time to drop the top and enjoy the wind in your hair and face. The Mazda Miata RF is versatile as both a daily commuter and as a fun weekend car. The power-folding hardtop makes it much more usable as we found out this week.
Mazda MX-5 Miata: What’s New For 2020?
The formerly optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and i-Activsense package of driver safety features are now standard. Last year’s GT-S package (which adds a black roof for RF models) is now standard on manual-equipped Grand Touring cars.
Miata fans and collectors may want to try and get their hands on the 100th Anniversary model. Announced earlier this year by Mazda, this special edition is based on the 2020 Grand Touring.
Features & Options
Our 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Grand Touring came standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, and heated leather seats. Connectivity and entertainment features included a nine-speaker Bose audio system, a seven-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Safety features included lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Grand Touring trim with the manual transmission adds a shock tower brace, sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and ventilated front brakes.
The Grand Touring is the more luxurious trim level with 17-inch dark silver wheels, adaptive headlights, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, automatic climate control, and navigation.
What Does The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Cost?
Total MSRP, including destination, for our 2020 Miata RF was $35,645. By contrast, the 2020 MX-5 Miata starts at $26,580 (soft top and manual transmission). The 2020 Miata RF starts at $33,045 (Club trim level and manual transmission).
Whether you go with the original soft top or the hardtop RF, the Miata has always been an excellent car for the modest price tag. Even though the Miata is priced right, you might be able to save a little more, depending on incentives in your area. This free and easy search tool* will show you which dealers are giving you the best price.
Interior Highlights: Simple & Straightforward
The Grand Touring cabin is tight but still livable as a daily driver for a small two-seat roadster. Mazda makes the most of the interior’s space and prioritizes driving for pleasure, not just transportation. There are not many controls or buttons, but they are easy to use and reach.
The cabin is quieter than an average convertible thanks to the RF’s power-folding hardtop instead of the standard Miata’s fabric top. Forward visibility is good in the small cabin, but the RF’s targa-like top somewhat impacts the view out the back window. The automatic top is quick to retract and deploy with the flip of a switch, however. The RF’s hardtop can open and close in just 13 seconds.
Two-seat roadsters are not exactly designed for comfort, but the Miata RF comes with a few extras to make life easier. Although it’s still summer, we would make use of the heated seats this fall. Our test Miata also came with rain-sensing wipers, a rear window defogger, and a Bose premium sound system.
Interior Highlights: Cramped at Times
If you are over six feet, you’ll have a tight fit, and there isn’t much head and legroom for taller drivers. Average size drivers will even be snug, but you’ll find an agreeable position thanks to the tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
There is not much storage space either, but you can tuck a few items away in the small center console. Mazda includes two convenient removable cupholders that can be stored away when not being used.
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Powertrain
The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque. It is a rear-drive configuration, which is what a sports car like this should have. The engine comes paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
The Miata RF has an EPA estimated fuel mileage of 26/34 city/highway and 29 combined with the manual transmission. By contrast, the automatic returns 26/35 city/highway and 29 combined.
How The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Drives
Suppose you are going to buy a two-seat, rear-drive convertible sports car – or, more specifically, the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF. In that case, we recommend the six-speed manual gearbox. It ramps up the fun-to-drive meter and allows you to get the most from the small car. The only downside is driving in stop and go traffic if you also use it as a daily commuter.
The 181 horsepower engine doesn’t sound like much, but in this small, lightweight sports car, it has enough power to dial up the fun factor. This current generation of the Miata underwent a number of weight reduction measures, and it shows on the open road. In order to keep the Miata’s 50/50 weight balance, the engineers cut weight from the suspension, transmission, and air conditioning system. As for the RF specifically, it is lighter because of the aluminum hood and trunk lid.
This Grand Touring trim has a firmer ride because of its sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers. However, we thought ride quality was still pretty good even over rough pavement and an occasional dirt road. Just be careful as larger potholes will send a shiver through the chassis.
Driving Dynamics: Let The Fun Begin!
The sport suspension is worth any discomfort when it comes to throwing the two-door coupe around tight corners, which we did in the mountains near Denver. It hugs the road fairly tight as we pushed the MX-5 hard around the twisties. The brakes are also a strong point and offer excellent stopping performance when you need them.
You’ll want the RF trim because it offers a quieter ride than the standard soft top. The power-folding hardtop makes the ride a little more enjoyable, especially at highway speeds. The RF also comes with a fixed buttress positioned behind each seat, giving it a distinct coupe or targa-like look instead of the Miata’s traditional roadster profile.
Conclusion: Always Fun
The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is a car you can’t wait to drive! The advantage of the RF is the quieter cabin, but for the money, the Miata packs a lot of fun in a small compact sports car, no matter the top.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
Mazda MX-5 Miata Fun Facts
Debut: 1989 Chicago Auto Show
RF: Stands for “Retractable Fastback”
5,000: Number of Miatas Raced Globally
April 2016: One Millionth Miata Produced
Weight Savings Per Component Versus 2018
Driveshaft: 3 lbs.
Suspension: 26 lbs.
Front Rotors: 14 lbs.
Transmission: 16 lbs.
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Gallery
Photos: Mazda North American Operations.
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