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2020 Mazda MX-5 GT RF – The Perfect Tool For The Job

2020 Mazda MX-5 GT RF – The Perfect Tool For The Job

What praises can I sing for the MX-5 that haven’t already been sung from the rooftops? It’s been around over three decades getting progressively better with each iteration. It’s precise and poised. It feels great to the touch.  Some jobs are impossible without the right tool.  But with that tool in hand, the job becomes a pleasure. For the “job” of sports car driving, there’s no better tool.


The RF model features fastback styling. MX-5’s B-pillars actually lift off the car when the power convertible top is let down. It’s not a true convertible, but you get the convenience of a power top, and it only adds about 115 pounds to the car. Visibility is slightly limited relative to the soft top version. The Soul Red Crystal paint looks like custom candy paint straight from the factory, and it’s accented beautifully by the gray on the 17″ alloy wheels.


The Mx-5 makes the best use of the modest interior space. Even six-footers can find a comfortable driving position in the heated seats. A telescoping tilt steering column, now a standard feature, lets you put the wheel exactly where it ought to be. I love the way Mazda brings the body color in on the top of the door sills. I also love the Sport Tan leather covered seats.

The interior looks basic, but has amenities like speakers in the headrests that pipe in phone calls. There are also classy touches like an upholstered dash, stainless door sill plates and alloy pedals. Plunked down onto the dash is a 7 inch touch screen to control the Bose 9 speaker stereo which is plenty loud even with the top down on the highway. It offers all the convenience we’ve become accustomed to; Bluetooth, navigation, etc. The car even comes standard with a backup camera.


I Under the hood is Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0 liter four cylinder that churns out 181 horsepower. Power is pushed through a sublime little six-speed manual to a limited-slip differential. The last time I drove this car I had this to say, “This car was fun with 155 horsepower, it was balanced and always under control. To make it misbehave you had to wring it out a bit. With the added power it’s easier than ever to get this little two-seater to step out of line. But it’s still so well mannered to whip it back into shape when things get too slidey.” That rings as true now as it did then. In the turns the MX-5 is about as predictable and poised as a car can get.

The sounds of the engine and the gearbox one inches from your right thigh keep you intimately connected with the car. Even with the top up, you don’t necessarily feel isolated in this car. It’s a treat for all five senses. It’s hard not to use the same beat down clichés that writers have used since Mazda brought the MX-5 Miata stateside in 1989.


When I reviewed the 2019 version of this car, the top creaked and rattled a bit. Who knows why, another journalist may have tried to shut it on their child. I didn’t have that experience this time. Driving this car is good for your soul. It’s like using a Snap-on ratchet handle after a cheap chinese one. It feels good. It doesn’t just do the job. It makes it a real pleasure. The RF starts at $34,425 and as tested this car cost $35,965. 60 bucks more than last year. You get what you pay for though. An investment in this car will make the job of driving a pleasure.



After receiving a heavily revised engine with more horsepower along with a list of other changes for the 2019 model year that were significant enough to justify a change in the model designation to ND2, updates to the 2020 model are relatively few.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support

Previously, these features could be added using a $199 kit plus installation labor. For 2020, the necessary software and hardware for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come pre-installed. You no longer have to disassemble the dash on your brand new Miata.

Key fob

For 2020, the Miata gets Mazda’s new key fob design. It is thicker and wider than the old key fob and the buttons move from the front to the side where they may be less prone to accidental presses. The physical key has a much smaller head than the old key which provides less leverage. Fortunately, it’s rarely used except to lock and unlock the storage compartment between the seats

Perforated leather seats

Perforated leather is newly available on the 2020 MX-5 Miata and provides natural ventilation which can make for a cooler experience on warm days. While perforated leather may require a little more care to avoid liquid and dirt from falling down into the holes, I think it looks a lot nicer in addition to the functional advantage. Thankfully, all of this soothing and understated gray is offset by a new, dynamic (again, Mazda’s description) red leather interior.



All interior stitching is now gray. Mazda uses the words soothing, calm, and premium to describe it. I’m tempted to use the words boring, cost-cutting, and consolidation. To me, the MX-5 Miata is a sporty car that deserves a more sporty stitch color than soothing gray – leave that one to the sedans and SUV’s!

Polymetal Gray

Continuing the monochrome theme, Polymetal Gray is a new color shade of gray for the 2020 MX-5 Miata. Mazda describes the color shade of gray as understated and beautiful. I’ll just say that it looks like they forgot to paint the car and sprayed clear coat over the primer, but, hey – lots of folks aren’t happy with only 49 shades of gray!

Door sills

Wrapping up the changes to the 2020 MX-5 Miata are the availability of stainless steel door sills.

There is no official word just yet on pricing, availability, or other changes.

Photos from Mazda