ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE MAZDA MX-5 RF

The Mazda MX-5 is something of a never ending story, launched at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show it has evolved and around the world it has acquired quite a fan base.
Part of the success story came early as it was quickly adopted as the spiritual successor to the British sportscars, the MG Midgets and Austin Healeys of the 1950s and 1960s.
Away from the everyday motoring scene, the little roadster has become a popular choice around the world in motor sport, especially in the USA in various racing championships. Still on our roads you will find many early examples of this lightweight and reliable sportscar. Down the years we in our market have stayed with the name MX-5, while in the USA it has been known as the Miata and in Japan simply as the Roadster. Indeed it was once named the Eunos Roadster, the Mazda badge was not used, rather like in the manner Toyota went for with the Lexus brand.
Throughout a long career there have been a number of special edition models with a variety of engines sizes, this in a way has kept the little roadster refreshed and it’s a set of wheels that has many years left.
Coming right up to date I recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the RF. Thankfully with evolution down the years, this little Mazda has managed to deliver outstanding handling, this is the sort of sportscar you just want to climb onboard and drive and drive. A Bilstein suspension set up really does assist in putting a smile on the face.
The RF has power aplenty, 160PS, enough to whisk you from rest to 62mph (100kph) in just over seven seconds and on to a top speed of 134mph (215kph).
Re economy and quoting Mazda official figures 40.9mpg (6.9l/100kms) on the combined cycle and the emission figure is quite high at 161g/km.
The two litre powerplant is aided by a very slick, short change, six speed gearbox and despite being equipped with a double pinion electronic power assisted steering, there is a pleasing amount of feel.
Stopping power and up front 259mm ventilated discs. Tyres fitted 205/45 R17 on seventeen inch bright alloys (any larger I feel might just make the ride too bumpy). Breaking away from tradition you could say, the RF has a hardtop fitted with automatic roof operation, a good mix considering our Irish climate. Early examples of the MX-5 were basic in the extreme; you could not say that of the current generation, the RF features an adaptive front lighting system, dusk sensing lights and rear parking sensors.
The exterior sports styling theme is carried seamlessly to the interior with black leather seating with red stitching and for comfort and safety, three stage seat heaters and an auto dimming rear view mirror.
A premium Bose sound system with nine speakers (including two driver and two passenger headrest speakers) are included, mind you most will just want to listen to the engine and its distinctive note!
Keeping driver and passenger safe and secure, a lane departure warning system with rear cross traffic alert and high beam control, these are included in the optional safety pack. It goes without saying that luggage space is limited, an ideal set of wheels for a weekend away, perfect to enjoy the Wild Atlantic Way or indeed the spectacular North Antrim Coast Drive.
The standard price of the RF is £25,995, but with the options on my test example that rises to £27,065. (In the Republic, the MX-5 RF starts at €31,495)