2019 Mazda MX-5 RF GT-S new car reviews

“Hello, I’d like a Miata with everything on it.”

“Ah, you’re here for the RF with the GT-S package.”

There’s been plenty of news surrounding the 2019 MX-5. First, more power. A total revamp to the 2.0-liter engine boosts output to 181 horsepower.

Then there’s the more fleshed-out model line. The new GT-S package adds the Club’s limited-slip diff, Bilstein dampers and shock tower brace to the upmarket Grand Sport, meaning the fancy interior appointments. The GT-S is available on both the soft-top and RF models. When paired with the RF, the center of the hardtop is painted black.

So, best of both worlds or too much for one Miata? Read the counterpoint below for more.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

More time with this one only made one thing more clear: The new MX-5 is easily one of the best new cars sold in America. Zillion-dollar McLaren? Ferrari whatever? Bentley SUV? Feh.

There’s not much more to say. The RF turns the MX-5 into a quiet, classy highway tourer. The GT-S package then adds in the right mix of comfort and sport for me. No, it’s not the fastest MX-5 variant, but for a daily, it’s nearly perfect. It’s the Miata coupe that turns into a Miata roadster at the touch of a button.

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nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/29/18 9:38 a.m.

Really, really happy to see Mazda continuing to invest in the MX-5.  What a fantastic, compelling little car.  And great photos, guys!

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/29/18 10:04 a.m.

Is this a 2018 or 2019 model with that horsepower number?  The headline says 2018.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 10:12 a.m.

If it's a GT-S, it's a 2019.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/29/18 10:28 a.m.

I'm seriously conflicted about this car. I like the ND, but not enough to buy one new. But I've really only been in a soft top car. And I don't like older Miatas because I've spent most of my time in soft top NBs. But then I bought a hardtop NA and it's freaking great. And the ND is supposed to be the most NA like car since the NA and the RF has a roof and I drive past 3-6 new RF cars every time I drop my son at high school. Crap. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/29/18 10:30 a.m.

Mazda is now copying the Porsche GT-S recipe, and it's a good recipe.  These will become the Miata of choice as these cars age.

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 10:39 a.m.

It's such an obvious package, I wonder why it took them so long to bring it to the US.  Basically, take the stuff that makes the Club special, and take the stuff that makes the GT special, and mash them together. And while this may not be the fastest variant due to the extra 93 lbs of the RF, it's worth noting that our 2019 GT-S RF was only 9 lbs heavier than our 2017 GT RF. Also, the GT only weighs 15 lbs more than the "sporty" Club. So you're not paying all that much in terms of performance for the luxe.

Lugnut
Lugnut Dork
10/29/18 10:46 a.m.

I still wish these came in real colors. An adequate red, plus blah washed out metallic blue, plus silver plus silver plus silver plus white plus gray. Blah. Gimme a mariner blue one. A yellow one. An orange one. A BRG one. Gimme SOMETHING that's non-metallic and not rock-toned.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 11:05 a.m.

They're metallic because that's what works well on the body shape. Mariner would wipe out all the surface detailing and make the car far less interesting, as would yellow. BRG just sucks on everything ;) This is a shape that rewards metallics, just like the NA was a shape that didn't work well with metallics.

Look to the Lotus Elise color range to see what would work, as they're similar cars from a surface detail standpoint. Non-metallic red looks bad, the Chili Red (metallic red with a gold highlight) is astounding. Magnetic Blue from that line might work. Lexus Ultrasonic Blue would be great.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
10/29/18 11:09 a.m.

That's awesome, that the GT only weighs 15lbs more than the club.

STM317
STM317 SuperDork
10/29/18 11:32 a.m.

Aren't you guys supposed to have trees in front of the car when taking pics?

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
10/29/18 11:43 a.m.

I'm seriously conflicted about this car. I like the ND, but not enough to buy one new. But I've really only been in a soft top car. And I don't like older Miatas because I've spent most of my time in soft top NBs. But then I bought a hardtop NA and it's freaking great. And the ND is supposed to be the most NA like car since the NA and the RF has a roof and I drive past 3-6 new RF cars every time I drop my son at high school. Crap. 

I can pretty well relate to that. A hardtop NA with power is pretty much my ideal miata. Now Mazda sells the modern equivalent to that which seems awesome but is also new car money, for context roughly twice what you paid for a 911 that you fell in love with and will keep forever. I want to take it seriously too, but i've lived in buildings that cost less. New car math is hard, with value being a variable based on intangibles. In the end I don't like it enough to buy one new either, but my armchair estimate is that it will be a slam dunk when it gets down to 12k. cheeky

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/29/18 11:51 a.m.

In reply to Vigo :

The RF GT-S is within $1000 of what I paid for my house. sad

But the other way to look at it is that you could probably drive something like this for $10 a day over driving an NA. Yes, that's $3650 a year, so not chump change when you add it all up, but $10 a day is barely more than a combo meal at a fast food restaurant, and for that you get a super sexy sports car. Is it $10 better than an NA every morning? Maybe? 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 11:54 a.m.

If your standard of comparison is buildings that cost less than $30k, it's going to be hard to justify a lot of purchases! You have to look at the cost of the car relative to the rest of the marketplace, and the Miata does pretty well there.

I've got a hardtop NA with power as my own personal Miata. Not ridiculous power, but enough. Well, I have one with ridiculous power as well but that's not the point here. The point is that I've been grabbing the keys to FM's ND fleet as often as possible. There's a lot I could do to that NA for the price of a new ND, but then I'd still have to actually do it and it would be the bones of a 30 year old car. It's a really interesting comparison.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
10/29/18 12:22 p.m.

Hopefully these have dropped into the ~10-12k range by the time I'm ready to replace my 128i (quite a ways off, but you gotta have a plan).

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
10/29/18 12:53 p.m.

If your standard of comparison is buildings that cost less than $30k, it's going to be hard to justify a lot of purchases!

There are a lot of things in this world that don't make sense if you're standing in Texas. Take that as you will! cheeky

 

There's a lot I could do to that NA for the price of a new ND, but then I'd still have to actually do it and it would be the bones of a 30 year old car. It's a really interesting comparison. 

I don't think I'd rather have an equally fast NA at the end of the day, but it would certainly cost less! At least right now. What with the NA being so 'historically significant' to sports cars and nice ones becoming less common and going up in value, I have to wonder how long it could possibly take for a nice NA and a used ND to be worth about the same money on the used market. I think if one wanted to own a decent NA without spending used ND money, the clock is ticking! It might take 5-8 more years, but it's coming. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/29/18 1:04 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

There’s an ND that runs the Nola autocrosses regularly and it’s amazing how fast he/it are, especially in spite of all the body roll. I’m usually about 1.5-seconds behind him, but theoretically my STS Miata should be faster!

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/29/18 1:23 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

In reply to Vigo :

The RF GT-S is within $1000 of what I paid for my house. sad

But the other way to look at it is that you could probably drive something like this for $10 a day over driving an NA. Yes, that's $3650 a year, so not chump change when you add it all up, but $10 a day is barely more than a combo meal at a fast food restaurant, and for that you get a super sexy sports car. Is it $10 better than an NA every morning? Maybe? 

Did you buy it in the 30s? :)

Oklahoma isn't known for being expensive, but even in my quite little "almost outside of city limits" 1800sq ft home sold at auction for $40k a few years ago after the insurance company totaled it for smoke damage.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/29/18 1:35 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

 

Look to the Lotus Elise color range to see what would work, as they're similar cars from a surface detail standpoint. Non-metallic red looks bad, the Chili Red (metallic red with a gold highlight) is astounding. Magnetic Blue from that line might work. Lexus Ultrasonic Blue would be great.

 

But a BRG Elise (with a tan interior) is gorgeous. I used to see one during my commute a few times a month. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/29/18 1:59 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Yes, mid 30's, but that was almost 20 years ago too. I probably bought well enough on my house that I can buy poorly on cars for a long time and I'm still doing ok. 

Mrs. Deuce says we should go look at RF cars the next time she has a Friday off. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
10/29/18 2:12 p.m.

feature_image

 

This is the least flattering picture I've ever seen of a Miata. 

Toebra
Toebra Dork
10/29/18 2:17 p.m.
Lugnut said:

I still wish these came in real colors. An adequate red, plus blah washed out metallic blue, plus silver plus silver plus silver plus white plus gray. Blah. Gimme a mariner blue one. A yellow one. An orange one. A BRG one. Gimme SOMETHING that's non-metallic and not rock-toned.

This has been my gripe since day one.  The ND looks much better in bright colors, shame they refuse to offer it that way.  Launch was a mediocre red and 6 shades of gray, has not gotten better since.   I disagree with assertion that the body style looks bad in non-metal flake colors, because the ones I have seen that were wrapped looked great.

 

Color is an almost entirely subjective opinion.  Mazda just decided not to offer them in what most would consider good sporty colors.  I just hope they don't get into trouble making unfounded horsepower claims again.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/29/18 2:28 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

In reply to z31maniac :

Yes, mid 30's, but that was almost 20 years ago too. I probably bought well enough on my house that I can buy poorly on cars for a long time and I'm still doing ok. 

Mrs. Deuce says we should go look at RF cars the next time she has a Friday off. 

I meant 1930s. :)

chrispy
chrispy HalfDork
10/29/18 2:30 p.m.

$36K is out of my price range, but I've been smitten by the RF since it was announced.  Maybe when (if?) they drop to the low teens I'll be in a position to buy one.

I co-drove an ND at an autocross and it became my favorite Miata after the first run.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/29/18 3:08 p.m.

Porsche’s club magazine did a great article in car colors.  Dealers only want to stock neutral stuff they know is easy to sell.  All the cool colors are custom order now, and I don’t think Mazda does custom painting like Porsche.  You ever see a really cool new Porsche?  It was probably ordered that way.  Dealer stock is boring and grey scale.  

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/29/18 4:27 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

It's pretty easy to sell a $5-10k special color on a $100k+ car, not so much on a $35k car. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/29/18 4:37 p.m.

I was just playing with the configurator and the Recaros aren't an option with this package. How big of a deal is that?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 4:57 p.m.
Toebra said:
Color is an almost entirely subjective opinion.  Mazda just decided not to offer them in what most would consider good sporty colors.  I just hope they don't get into trouble making unfounded horsepower claims again.

The exact opposite. NDs are making more power than they should. It's been what, 18 years since the horsepower claim problem?

If you think Soul Red is mediocre, you have definitely proven that color is subjective :)

I don't have any experience with the optional Recaros, but I've done both many many laps and 1000 mile days in the normal ND seats and I have no complaints.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
10/29/18 5:00 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

They're metallic because that's what works well on the body shape. Mariner would wipe out all the surface detailing and make the car far less interesting, as would yellow. BRG just sucks on everything ;) This is a shape that rewards metallics, just like the NA was a shape that didn't work well with metallics.

 

I'm interested to see what the Golf R does in terms of custom colors. I hope it does really well. It would be great to be able to order some less pedestrian colors on more cars, even if they don't work well with the body shape.

Some people actually buy cars because they are available in a certain color (I'm looking at you, UNC Chapel Hill fans)

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 5:09 p.m.

FYI, custom colors are harder than you might think. The manufacturer has to do testing to make sure that the colors look the same on plastics and on the metal, and check for durability. Even Porsche has two different price levels depending on if it's an "already tested" custom color or a new one. 

I would seriously consider painting "my" ND in Ultrasonic Blue.

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
10/29/18 5:59 p.m.

I think Soul Red looks great. The RF looks great too. The ND is awesome. GT-S is a good choice. I think the GT-S is more important in the ST because the club is pretty loud at highway speeds with the top up, while the GT is livable 

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
10/29/18 6:48 p.m.

If color was that big a deal just wrap it yourself over a day/weekend. The panels on this car are so small that wrapping it yourself would be cheaper than a custom factory paint upgrade. 

I've been playing with vinyl wraps lately and it isn't that hard with patience and attention to detail. 

Y'all are GRM'ers, right? 

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
10/29/18 7:20 p.m.

Patience was never one of my virtues.

You're right, though. It's why I'm considering just getting my next car in white.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 7:23 p.m.
Brett_Murphy said:

Patience was never one of my virtues.

You're right, though. It's why I'm considering just getting my next car in white.

Black. Then the door openings and underhood fit in better.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
10/29/18 7:29 p.m.

I made myself a promise never to own another black car after I had one start to melt in a parking lot during the summer. 
 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 7:41 p.m.

But if you wrap it, it won't be black on the outside anymore!

RobC
RobC
10/29/18 7:51 p.m.

Keith you guys do great work! 

 How about my favorite color?   Laguna Blue smiley

te72
te72 Reader
10/29/18 9:47 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

Mrs. Deuce says we should go look at RF cars the next time she has a Friday off. 

Hah, if Mrs. Deuce is on board, something tells me you guys are gonna end up with an RF soon enough.

 

I dare not drive one, I couldn't say no, I just know it. If I was without a couple decades of mortgage, perhaps I would go for it, but not for now. :)

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/29/18 9:53 p.m.

Laguna might work on the ND. I’d love to see it. 

My standard line about the ND: don’t drive one unless you’re willing to buy it. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/30/18 1:34 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

Wraps are ugly up close.  Don’t make me photograph the new 991 in the parking garage at work that just got wrapped in dull semi gloss metallic blue.  It’s hideous on a car with quality paintwork.

I know cool color isn’t cheap.  The point is it’s hard to find Porsche’s in cool colors now.  Heck I was lucky to find a guards red 996.  They are mostly all silver, grey or black.  18 years later, it’s worse.  

Ever see the grey npc meme?  yah it works for car paint jobs too.  Grey box please....

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/30/18 1:34 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Laguna might work on the ND. I’d love to see it. 

My standard line about the ND: don’t drive one unless you’re willing to buy it. 

And this is why I avoid test driving cars anymore!  I already have too many.  

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
10/30/18 7:43 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Some are and some aren't. I've seen very well done wraps and ugly ones, just like paint jobs. Blanket statements...le eyeroll.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/30/18 7:45 a.m.
AnthonyGS said:
Keith Tanner said:

Laguna might work on the ND. I’d love to see it. 

My standard line about the ND: don’t drive one unless you’re willing to buy it. 

And this is why I avoid test driving cars anymore!  I already have too many.  

If we drive one it would be for Mrs. Deuce as a commuter. As wonderful as the Volt it's crushing her soul to drive it every day. 

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
10/30/18 8:41 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

I'll take the Volt

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
10/30/18 11:41 a.m.

Where's the MX-5 GT-R

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/30/18 11:47 a.m.

I can help you with that.

Toebra
Toebra Dork
10/30/18 11:57 p.m.

I don't care for red cars much, what can I say.  Velocity red is not bad

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/31/18 3:58 p.m.

In reply to yupididit :

True but taking a quality paintjob and putting a bad wrap on top....  it’s horrible.

To Keith, I know the ND Miata is a great car.  I know if I drive one I will likely buy it, but the only soul in “soul red” is the name.  I’ve seen SUVs and 4 dr sedans sprayed in similar dark metallic reds for 3 decades now.  

Dodge is the one company right now doing crazy colors as a tribute to their 70s colors.  That’s color.  

The Miata colors fall on the grey scale with a splash of red or splash of blue along with a ton of metallic grey as options.  It’s the sake with all auto makers now, and it’s sad.  With robotic paint you can change colors on the fly and get a quality finish too.  It’s just an ease of it all and profit issue.

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
10/31/18 4:49 p.m.

We live in a world where the overwhelming majority of cars are white, grey, silver, black. Even enthusiast vehicles. Any colour, of any description is an improvement. Even if you consider soul red to be boring because it's on other vehicles, it's at worst a top 5 percentile color. I'd put it in the top 1%.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/31/18 5:28 p.m.

I wouldn't call Soul Red Crystal a dark metallic, it has a serious highlight. It's one of the few colors that catches my eye on the other side of the interstate on a regular basis. It may be seen on SUVs, but it's also found on Daytona prototypes wink Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see more bright ND colors and I have been busting the balls of my Mazda contacts about that for a few years, but Soul Red is a legit good color.

Someone here described what it takes to change colors in a production paint booth a while back. It's not something you can do on the fly for one or two cars, because there are the awkward physical realities of having to get the old paint out of the system. I'm going to reach out to some of my industry contacts to find out just what's involved in bringing a new color online because now I'm curious.

I happened to be out in the shop and discovered we had Velocity Red and Soul Red parked side by side, so I took this picture for Toebra. It's a shame it's not out in the sun, but we were moving actual literal tons of stuff around the warehouse so that wasn't to be. This is under fluorescent lights, no flash.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/31/18 5:29 p.m.

Oh, here's one of those SUVs in Soul Red ;)

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/31/18 6:09 p.m.

I like the blue offered on the GT cars, but Mrs. Deuce played with the configurator and chose black. sad

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/31/18 6:16 p.m.

Black RF is awesome. Debadge it and put on the right wheels, and a lot of people will think it's an exotic. I chose Eternal Blue for the FM car because of how it photographs, but I'd choose black for my own. Well done Mrs Deuce.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/31/18 9:45 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I wouldn't call Soul Red Crystal a dark metallic, it has a serious highlight. It's one of the few colors that catches my eye on the other side of the interstate on a regular basis. It may be seen on SUVs, but it's also found on Daytona prototypes wink Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see more bright ND colors and I have been busting the balls of my Mazda contacts about that for a few years, but Soul Red is a legit good color.

Someone here described what it takes to change colors in a production paint booth a while back. It's not something you can do on the fly for one or two cars, because there are the awkward physical realities of having to get the old paint out of the system. I'm going to reach out to some of my industry contacts to find out just what's involved in bringing a new color online because now I'm curious.

I happened to be out in the shop and discovered we had Velocity Red and Soul Red parked side by side, so I took this picture for Toebra. It's a shame it's not out in the sun, but we were moving actual literal tons of stuff around the warehouse so that wasn't to be. This is under fluorescent lights, no flash.

 

Keith I worked at a major large truck manufacturer.  Most trucks were painted to order.  We changed colors on the fly and the robots handled it all no problem.  I also have an uncle that paints cars for a major high end auto manufacturer in Kentucky.  You can switch paint colors, it's just not as economical as painting everything one of 6 colors and doing 10 in a row of the same color.  This is a dealer easy sale and bean counter issue.  Soul red does look pretty good in favorable light conditions but the older MSM has more red in it, and soul red is more gray scale than the older reds.  It's just like options lists that were available in the 60s and 70s, they aren't available anymore in order to maximize profits.  Even Ford stopped doing cool colors on the Mustangs, the only cool color remaining really is Grabber blue. 

 

 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Reader
10/31/18 9:57 p.m.

Red.... and I'm still confused why my wife doesn't appreciate speed yellow.  I also have a coworker with a Viper Green Porsche Cayman S (P.S. he might be buying a new ND next and come calling for more power) and nothing anyone makes nowadays comes close as far as an emotional color.  You either love or hate it, but you can't feel neutral about Viper Green.  And then there is Miami blue and Mexico blue.....

 

I'm not sure if it's on your GRM forum sidebar, but the soul red looks like the so similar to the paint on the war wagon, the Civic R and the Veloster N. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/1/18 10:48 a.m.

Interesting stuff about the paint. I'd love to know more about the actual process of changing colors in the booth, having cleaned out my fair share of guns.

Here's what's parked out back in the shop right now. I've driven all of these this week laugh BBR turbo, 2019 GT-S and a big lairy V8. Some days here are okay - although I was here until 11:30 last night working on the instrument cluster programming for the V8...

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
11/1/18 11:41 a.m.

Here I am thinking the blue car on the gold wheels would be about perfect visually. 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/1/18 11:48 a.m.

It's not a slam dunk the way the red is, it divides opinion a bit more. If it works for you, it probably really works. Or it doesn't work for you at all. Not a lot of "meh" reactions.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/1/18 12:33 p.m.

It's a good thing I'm busy the rest of today/tomorrow/Saturday (dealerships are closed here on Sunday's), as one of the Mazda dealers in the metro area just received the exact configuration I would buy. They haven't even taken their standard 46 pictures yet. 

'19 Sport roadster, white. 

I don't really need for the extra "features" of the GT or the leather seats. 

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