Mazda MX-5 2019 rf

2019 Mazda MX-5 RF long-term review: Urban driving

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The MX-5 is a perfect city car, and in this update we tell you how it tackles the concrete jungle.

‘Max’ the 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF has had its fair share of spending time in the heart of Melbourne, and no surprise, it is a comfortable little two-seater to navigate through tight streets and carparks.

The 2019 updates make city driving easier with its more powerful 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, up 17kW of power to 135kW, and 5Nm of torque to 205Nm.

Weighing just 1087 kilograms, it is spritely taking off from the lights, but with a passenger and a full load in the boot, it begins to a get bit sluggish.

The six-speed manual transmission is the only way to go in an MX-5, although we had reservations of driving a manual box in city traffic in a society that typically chooses automatic cars for their daily commute. Those worries quickly diminished, however.

The clutch is light so your left leg should never get tired (unlike the clutch in my Mum’s old Mazda 6!), and each gear has a short throw. Shifting those gears is not a chore, it’s a hobby, and is the best part of the MX-5, no matter the driving environment.

Negotiating car parks is a cinch as it’s so small. At 3.9 metres long, 13 centimetres shorter than the Abarth 124 Spider, most of the time you can drive straight into a parallel park. If not, the now standard one-view reversing camera with rear cross traffic alert comes in handy.

One option worth ticking is front parking sensors for $682.87, as the bonnet dips down and can be hard to tell just how close you are to the car in front or to the end of your garage.

Hill start assist in a manual is great to have, as is traffic sign recognition, alerting you of a speed limit change or a stop sign. There’s a giant blind spot on the driver's side for head checks due to the retractable roof, but thank goodness for blind spot monitoring.

It rides quite well considering it sits low to the road with its 17-inch wheels, and is especially good over speed bumps. Although it does crash over potholes and is usually followed by an ‘eeek’ from the driver.

The steering is sensitive which makes it fun to bomb into corners, and is small enough for tight laneways.

The RF is a looker. Just park it across the road while grabbing a coffee, and watch the intrigue from people walking past. And in the Snowflake White Pearl Mica paint, it accentuates its curves perfectly.

While it is dwarfed by SUVs and tall utes, it’s safe to say ’Max’ feels right at home in the city.