Title: 2023 Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS Review: Track-Focused Special Proves ND Is an All-Time Great
I recently had the opportunity to drive the ND-generation Mazda MX-5, and it lived up to my lofty expectations. In this review, I will delve into the details of the RF GT RS variant to provide insights into its performance, features, and driving experience.
The Most Special of MX-5s:
The RF GT RS variant of the MX-5 comes with notable upgrades compared to the standard model. It features a retractable fastback roof and benefits from the GT RS package, which includes forged 17-inch wheels, four-piston Brembo brake calipers, performance brake pads, Bilstein shocks, and a front strut tower brace.
Performance and Powertrain:
Powered by a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, the MX-5 RF GT RS delivers a respectable 135 kW (181 hp) at 7,000 rpm and 205 Nm (151 lb-ft) of torque at 4,000 rpm. Paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, this setup enhances the driving experience and includes a limited-slip differential for enhanced control.
Interior Comfort and Features:
The MX-5’s cabin offers a tight squeeze for taller individuals but provides ample legroom and comfortably positioned seats. The steering wheel stands out with its perfect diameter and usability. The infotainment system, although outdated in the tested 2023 model, has been updated in the 2024 version. Other interior features include easy-to-use HVAC controls, heated seats, and repositionable cupholders.
The Joy of Driving:
The MX-5 shines on the open road, impressing with its lightweight construction, responsive 2.0-liter engine, and well-designed six-speed manual transmission. The shifter exhibits a precise, rifle-bolt-like action, and the clutch offers a light feel. The beefed-up Brembo brakes provide excellent stopping power, and the Bilstein dampers offer a plush yet controlled ride, setting the MX-5 apart from overly stiff competitors.
Supreme Comfort and Handling:
Contrary to other performance-focused vehicles, the MX-5 GT RS strikes a balance between comfort and handling. The Bilstein dampers ensure a comfortable and plush ride, even on rough roads. The car maintains stability in high-speed cornering, with the Bridgestone tires delivering ample grip. The handling remains confidence-inspiring at the limit of grip, surpassing many sports cars in terms of comfort and control.
While rumors suggest a larger and possibly hybrid rotary-powered next-gen model, the current ND MX-5 continues to be one of the finest sports cars on the market. Though the price of the RF GT RS variant may be steep for some, diehard MX-5 enthusiasts will find it to be a track-focused gem that delivers an all-time great driving experience.
In conclusion, my experience with the 2023 Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS revealed a car that lived up to its reputation. With its engaging handling, responsive powertrain, and comfortable ride, the MX-5 remains a top choice in the sports car segment.