2020 Mazda Miata MX 5 RF Review by Mark Fulmer
In Praise of Impractical Enjoyment
By Mark Fulmer
The Auto Channel
Why, you might ask, would anyone choose a car that seats only one passenger, has less room than a golf cart, and not even enough space for golf clubs? Because driving a cool-looking sportscar is just plain fun. The 4th generation 2020 Mazda Miata once again fills that bill and also has a version with that rare option: a manual transmission.
The 2020 MX 5 RF model comes equipped with Mazda's i-ACTIVSENSE suite of driver assists, which includes blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. The fully automated hard top folds itself into the trunk and keeps the wind off your back with transparent deflectors behind the seats. Not only is the hard top good looking and easy to use but it also lessens wind and engine noise.
The MX-5 has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Since the vehicle itself only weighs 2,381 pounds, it does the job. The 6-speed automatic transmission comes with paddle shifters, and the top two cogs are overdriven. For those of you who remember cars from Saab, you will recognize the effect of well designed weight distribution. I remember years ago test driving a Saab with one of its engineers and remarking to him "This feels like being in a kayak." And he smiled and told me that they designed the center of gravity to run directly under the driver. That's a lot of the fun to be found driving the Miata. With the mass and weight distributed that way the feeling of balance makes winding roads into something akin to a skillful dance partner.
For the drivers who enjoy the driving experience, let's hope there will always be affordible, impractical sportscars like the Miata that fulfill my favorite New Year's resolution: "This year, I'm going to have more fun."