Mazda MX-5 2019 rf

2019 Mazda MX-5 RF long-term review: Road trip

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We take the little sports car on a road trip to Victoria's Yarra Valley to explore some windy roads.

Our long-termer, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF, has spent all its time in and around the city since it’s been with us.

It’s been itching to get out on the open road, though, and so have we. A two-seater sports car belongs on a winding road, so for our road trip report, I decided to show my Sydney friend, Michelle, some of the most iconic roads in Victoria.

The plan was to start down near the Mornington Peninsula, up to Marysville for the night, and back home via Mount Dandenong and the Black Spur. A round trip of around 250km taking the not-so-travelled roads.

The first challenge of the trip was to pack our luggage in the small 127L boot. With a narrow opening, we just managed to fit Michelle’s small hard case suitcase, my overnight duffle bag, and two handbags, with enough room for any chocolate and wine we were planning to buy along the way.

Luckily, the weather was on our side the whole time to drive with the roof down, so we piled on the sunscreen in the 25-degree sun.

The only issue was we left white smears all over the black door trims and central armrest, which we didn’t discover until that night. Whoops.

We didn’t use the satellite navigation from the MZD Connect infotainment system. It was because we were wanting to visit different roads along the way, and was just taking too long to input the destinations, so we were growing a little impatient with it.

A driving playlist mostly consisting of cheesy ’90s pop bands was pumped through the speakers, and the volume knob placed near the infotainment rotary dial was used a lot from the passenger. Very handy.

Our bottles of water began their life in the cupholders, but soon got knocked by our elbows and the passenger’s right knee.

The bottles ended up in the large lockable storage compartment between the seats (which was hard to reach behind while driving), where they were kept quite cool.

It was Michelle’s first drive in an MX-5, and on first impressions she was enjoying it. “I really like the long bonnet, the way it sits low – it feels good and very sporty.”

The winding roads on the way to a pub on the outskirts of Marysville were a blast. The car leaned into each corner, easily sticking to the road, and its body roll made it even more fun to push it.

Most of the time both of us were giggling like kids in a candy shop, as these sorts of roads are where the Mazda shines.

Michelle’s daily driver is a manual Nissan 370Z, so a few differences were noted by her. “It has a soft clutch and little pedals. It’s light and nimble, and I’m surprised it sounds so good.”

We were averaging 7.8L/100km, more than the claimed combined fuel reading of 6.9L, but we were giving it its all.

Its 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with 135kW and 205Nm was zippy, and its 17kW and 5Nm bump pre-update was noticed.

But Michelle was after more horses.

“Starting to climb hills, it could do with a bit more power, but the handling makes up for it.”

While I was pretty happy with its performance, we both agreed it would be sacrilege to option the automatic transmission for $2000.

It was such a pleasure moving through the six gears as we ventured through the breathtaking Black Spur. It is undoubtedly the easiest transmission I’ve ever used.

Venturing through the Dandenongs with tall, green trees lining the twisty roads was amazing with the top down. Although we were driving with the electric folding roof down most of the time, just one time we did put the roof up.

Michelle is 178cm tall, so things did get tight, and she mentioned she had about two inches of headroom, “but it feels comfortable, and you would expect it to feel compact for a sports car,” she said.

With the top down at more than 80km/h, wind noise got a bit too much just behind our ears on the B-pillar, which seems to only occur in the RF design. That’s when April Sun in Cuba got blasted, and our bad singing drowned it out.

We had a blast in ‘Max’. It showed us that it’s more than capable of a weekend away for two (you might just have to do some car Tetris), and can be hilarious fun when a good road is found.

Two days wasn’t long enough in the MX-5 for two car enthusiasts like us, and it was sad our road trip had to come to an end.

The Great Ocean Road is next on Michelle’s road trip list, so watch this space!

2019 Mazda MX-5 RF