Mazda MX-5 RF Miata?
March 19, 2017 7:59 PM   Subscribe

I am strongly considering the new retractable hardtop version of the Mazda Miata as my next car. It is a lot of fun to drive. However, before I pull the trigger, I am wondering if any folks here have warnings I might not have considered, or regrets due to the small trunk?

I am currently driving a Mazda 3 hatchback. I am prepared to only have two seats, and know that the trunk space is very small on Miatas, but believe that it will be ok since I have access to my wife's larger car if needed. I know that lots of people are happy with their Miatas, but am wondering if there are folks here who convinced themselves that they could live with the limited storage and later regretted it.

Success stories are also welcome, but I am mostly looking for counterarguments to my optimism. For example, you bought the car looking forward to driving up the California coast with the top down, but discovered that you could not fit all the necessities for the trip in the trunk and had to drive the old minivan instead.
posted by The Architect to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know the retractable hardtop Miata is brand-new, but ideally, you could rent one for a weekend through Turo or a similar service.
posted by Seeking Direction at 8:09 PM on March 19, 2017

I have a 2009 softtop MX5, so it's the Mark 3 not the Mark 4, but a lot of the same things will be true:

- The RF's retractable hardtop is pretty fast but still takes a fair bit longer to do its thing than a softtop. See video for how fast you can open an MX5 soft top.

- I'm quite tall, and I simply didn't fit under the MX5 mk3 hardtop. If you are over 6 feet, try before you buy.

- The boot space is fine for daytrips, shopping, and most soft bags, but it's not huge, and large non-squishable items can be a problem. For those cases where I need to carry both cargo and a passenger I have a luggage rack that sits on the boot lid, and bungee cords to fix things to it. Mine looks like this

- It's a fun car that I enjoy.
posted by Urtylug at 10:29 PM on March 19, 2017

The Miata has 4.6 cu ft of trunk space which is a cubic foot less than the Fiero. I've got hundreds of thousands of kilometres in Fieros and while no one would get excited about the trunk space it is more than adequate for a medium and a small bag each for passenger and driver. Soft sided bags like duffle bags that you only fill to 80% capacity makes it easy to maximize the space you do have by making use of every cubic inch.

The draw back is you are limited to hauling whatever maximum size dimension are. The Fiero trunk for example was wide and deep but narrow front to back so I couldn't fit anything but the smallest hard sided cooler in the trunk because they wouldn't fit front to back.

Most of my Fieros have had the factory built in luggage "rack" and like Urtylug for short trips I'd strap things to it if they didn't fit in the trunk (like a CRT monitor). I also strapped my tent and sleeping bag to once for a camping trip. I've also just strapped things directly to the trunk lid of my non-rack Fieros preventing damage with a padded moving blanket. You can buy straps with wide flat vynil coated hooks for this purpose that just hook on the edge of the trunk lid.
posted by Mitheral at 10:49 PM on March 19, 2017

I have an older (1994) Miata. While the trunk size may be somewhat different than that of a new Miata, it is definitely shall we say limited. When I bought it new, it was the only car I had and I was single at the time. Fitting a week's worth of groceries into the trunk was a bit of a challenge, but doable. Once I married, the Miata became a "pet". A week-long summer vacation required a laundry stop mid-trip, as the trunk was simply not large enough to hold enough clothing and other necessities for two people. It can also be difficult to get a rollaboard suitcase in, because of the wheels.

But, for us, the fun (what Car & Driver calls "the whee factor") compensates for the hassles, as long as there is another vehicle available (hello, fellow Mazda3 owner!) when more substantial space is available. The one inconvenience we notice is that, at times, we'll leave the Miata behind - say for IKEA shopping trips - simply because we may want to purchase more than its trunk can hold.
posted by DrGail at 6:01 AM on March 20, 2017

Mazda-loving Mazda3 driver here and oh boy do I sympathize. I have always wanted a Miata and that damn new hardtop is the most beautiful affordable car on the market, even if it does add unnecessary weight. Gorgeous.

I've driven a few Miatas and must add that the other drawback is that while they are wondrous on the twisties, they are hard on the driver for long highway trips or daily traffic-heavy commutes. Road noise and NVH in general are (as you'd expect) like a sports car. After a few hours you'll miss even a Mazda3-level of comfort (which ain't bad at all in Gen3 upper trim levels). The 3 is noisy and firm. The Miata is just loud. And stiff. And bumpy. And as a RWD light car it's not much fun in bad weather. So it all depends on your driving scenario and youth. If I were retired and only needed to drive locally a few times a week other than taking it out for runs, and especially if I had a backup for longer trips and bad weather, that car would be in my garage tomorrow. But as a 6 footer with a bad back, musical gear to haul long distances in all weather, and a northeastern urban location, no way it made sense.

But want.

ETA my solution was to put Pirellis on my 3. Wheeee.
posted by spitbull at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

for reference
posted by spitbull at 6:22 AM on March 20, 2017

Get it. Please get it. The future is fully electric drivetrains with semi-autonomous self-driving capability. This is the last, absolute last gasp of analog (-ish) true sports car driving enjoyment. And this car owns this moment. We both know that a perfectly executed rev-matched downshift as you come up on your favorite decreasing-radius corner is a rare delight available to the few who are in on the secret. And with the top down on a crisp fall morning? Christ. This is the car you'll regret not getting. Especially if you don't get it because of, like, storage. I crammed my hockey gear and a friends hockey gear and that friend into an MGB. In the winter. Yes it was high school but point stands: you'll figure it out. Also, the RF is an absolutely beautiful car.

(I say this as someone excited about the future, someone who acknowledges the potential for saved lives and reduced pollution, but I will miss actual driving)
posted by everythings_interrelated at 6:44 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Proud owner of a Miata 2007 rag-top. A great car, a reliable car (and I've owned a Triumph and 2 MGs), but bad in the snow and no spare tire. I've never minded the smaller trunk and one can fit a remarkable amount of stuff in that trunk and the behind the seat storage, and if you are alone in the car the passenger seat and floor space can almost double your capacity to haul stuff.
posted by mfoight at 7:35 AM on March 20, 2017

I'm considering one of these myself. My biggest red-flag is the entire RF thing: it looks like it's got a lot of moving parts - and 2017 is the first model year to offer it? I might want to read the fine print on the warranty (looks like "3 yr/36,000 mi basic, 5 yr/60,000 mi powertrain") and make sure the RF is fully covered.

Also: looks like gas mileage is 27 city / 34 highway (not too shabby) and Premium gasoline is "recommended" (which is one of those things that people argue about - all I can say is that my current vehicle requires Premium, and it can get expensive).
posted by doctor tough love at 10:09 AM on March 20, 2017

Thank you everyone that posted. Very helpful. I am strongly leaning towards buying the MX-5 RF. Fortunately, I am not too tall, live in Southern California, typically have a short commute, and have another car in the family, so that helps with some of the concerns.

everythings_interrelated's post resonated with me the most. I tend to drive my cars a long time, so expect that my next car will probably be doing the driving for me. I have test driven several "nice" cars, but the Miata is the only one that made me smile.

I will report back when I make my final decision.
posted by The Architect at 9:04 PM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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