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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Review +VIDEO By Larry Nutson

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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Fun to drive in any life stage

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

When you stop to think about it, it’s a bit amazing that the MX-5 Miata has been on the road for more than 30 years. More than a million Miatas have been produced and it’s the Guinness World Record holder for the best-selling two-seat sports car.

I’ve been fortunate to have been behind the wheel and driven many iterations of the Miata. Way back when, I drove the very first version as a part of my job with an automaker. And, thanks to Mazda, I’ve driven the latest iteration at the launch of the 2016 model. And most recently nearly 18 months ago with the upgraded engine output of the 2019 model. 

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The arrival of a 2020 Miata MX-5 RF at my door came along with some very nice summer, open air driving weather. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic I had good opportunity to get out and about and enjoy a long Sunday drive with my wife along for company.

I usually get in some track time each year with a number of vehicles including the Miata but the pandemic had other plans and those programs didn’t happen this year.

The 181-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.0-L with its higher rev range and increased low-end torque that was new for 2019 continues for 2020. My driver had the 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles and Sport mode is available.

The engine is free revving and delivers plenty of punch for this light weight 2-seater. The manual shifter is well placed for smooth and easy shifts aided by its nice clutch take-up.

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Additionally note, I was driving a Grand Touring RF…the top line Retractable Fastback. In all, for 2020 the MX-5 Miata is offered in soft top Sport, Club and Grand Touring trims. And the RF is offered in Club trim along with the previously mentioned Grand Touring.

Prices range from $26,580 up to $34,750. A Brembo/BBS Recaro package for manual trans Club models is available for $4,470 on the soft top and $4,670 on the RF.

For 2020, sport-tuned suspension components are now standard on Grand Touring models as well as some new trim updates. Sport and Club models get a higher level of standard driver-assist safety features. Club models get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Miata is always fun to drive. It’s plenty comfortable and roomy for two average size adults and the trunk has enough space for two standard size roll-aboard suitcases or a load of groceries.. 

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EPA test-cycle ratings are 29 mpg combined with 26 city mpg and 34 highway mpg. Low fuel consumption and hitting the EPA numbers is easy to achieve unless of course you’re out there burning up the pavement. I averaged 27 mpg overall in mixed driving speeds.

More facts and figures on the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata can be found at

The RF with its power-retractable targa top that opens or closes in 13 seconds is almost the default choice for big city living. Basically, one would want to enjoy open air driving as much as possible balanced with the real need to frequently open and close the top when parked around town. In the purest sense I would prefer the roadster with its manual cloth top which actually operates quite easily.

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All in all the MX-5 Maita is a great performer and a joy to drive. The Soul Red Crystal paint is a head turner and is said by many to be the best red on any new car today.

Mazda Motor Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year and here in the U.S. Mazda will be offering a 100th Anniversary Special Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata. Available in both RF and soft top, this commemorative Miata will share Grand Touring trim level features. 

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It will be offered in Snowflake White Pearl Mica premium exterior paint and accented by red styling features throughout. The soft top will have an exclusive red fabric topping. Red leather seats and red carpet give a nod to the two-tone R360 Coupe, Mazda’s first passenger car. 100th Anniversary badging and logos will be used both outside and in.

Starting MSRP is $32,670 and will be arriving in dealerships later this year.

Makes me wonder if this 100th anniversary MX-5 Miata has some collectability value. It’s certainly tempting. 

© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy