Living with a Mazda MX-5 RF: First Report

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When I was told I'd be running a Mazda MX-5 RF for the next six months, I have to say I was more than a little excited. I'm a great fan of the convertible, and the prospect of living with a more practical day-to-day version was undoubtedly appealing.

In many ways, it has lived up to the hype. Sure, it's a little bit more top-heavy than the normal drop-top, and as a result it rolls slightly more, but otherwise it's every bit as brilliant as every other 2.0-litre MX-5.


It has plenty of kit, too. We've gone for top-of-the-range Sport Nav trim, which means there's satellite navigation, leather upholstery and heated seats. Better still, it has the Bilstein shock absorbers that, to my mind, make the MX-5 so good.

And then there's the roof. So what if it adds weight? That origami-like folding mechanism is brilliant, and whether the roof's up or down it draws as much attention as anything with a Porsche badge.

Whether that's good or not is, of course, dependent on your point of view, but it's amazing that anything as modest as a £25,000 MX-5 can turn heads as easily as a car worth twice as much.

I'm even pleased with the fuel economy. It seems to be fairly streamlined when the roof's up, so it's done more than 41mpg on long runs, and I'm only expecting that to improve as the engine wears in and the weather improves.
There are, however, a couple of flies in the otherwise pristine ointment that is my relationship with the RF.

For starters, there's the roof. It's necessarily much thicker than the soft-top, and that means my neck has to bend a little if I want to drive with the roof up. I know my body isn't exactly average – I'm 6ft 2in, which isn't especially tall, but I've got the legs of someone who's 5ft 11in and the torso of someone 6ft 5in – so it's hardly representative, but it would be useful if I didn't have to sit like the Hunchback of Notre Dame every time it rains.

Worse than the cramp, though, has been the windscreen, which decided to crack just days after delivery.

The fault, which ran around a foot from the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to somewhere in front of the driver, was traced to a tiny stone chip on the very edge of the glasswork, and necessitated a full windscreen replacement.

Watching the screen come out was entertaining, and it involved taking all the plastic trim off the windshield surround, as well as removing the lane departure warning system from behind the rear-view mirror.

As a result, the job cost £350, and that's quite a lot. It was certainly a reminder that windscreen cover is well worth choosing when you sort out your insurance.

Now the screen is fixed, though, we can go back to enjoying the MX-5. We just need some sunny summer days!

Model: Mazda MX-5 RF 160PS Sport Nav

Price: £27,165

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol

Power: 158bhp, 200Nm

Max speed: 134mph

0-60mph: 7.4 seconds

Emissions: 161g/km

MPG: 40.9 (combined)

Mileage this month: 872

Highlight this month: Getting back on the road after the windscreen crack appeared.