Review: Is Mazda’s MX-5 RF Sport Black a worthy newcomer?
Ryan Hirons tests Mazda’s limited-edition RF convertible
Mazda has never shied away from a special-edition machine. In fact, boot up any Gran Turismo game, head to the used car dealer and you'll see a virtual recreation of the dozens upon dozens of MX-5 variants the firm has thrown out over the years.
Well, it's not stopping anytime soon - this is the MX-5 RF Sport Black, the latest UK-only limited-edition version of the sports car. It's not even the first special-edition this year, following on from the Z-Sport, but is it a worthy newcomer?
Sport Black is a trim Mazda has added to a couple of its ranges lately - namely the 2 and 3 - and each brings a host of exterior and interior tweaks, although little in the way of performance upgrades. That rings true again for the MX-5 RF Sport Black. Based on the hard-top 'Retractable Fastback' or 'RF' model, this limited-run machine gains black trim details such as the rear spoiler, wing mirror covers and alloy wheels - with Eternal Blue Mica the only body colour option. Inside the car, model-specific scuff plates and floor mats denote it as a Sport Black, along with a plaque in the centre console.
What's under the bonnet?
Just the one engine is available for the Mazda MX-5 RF Sport Black, a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit that has been in the convertible's range since it launched back in 2015. It hasn't been changed here, still producing 158bhp and 200Nm of torque, while paired up to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The result is 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds while a top speed of 134mph is possible. As for efficiency, Mazda claims a respectable 40.9mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 161g/km.
The engine continues to be as smooth and fruitful as before, with consistent power delivery and enough poke to make this a real riot on a B-road. Enthusiasts could be forgiven for wanting a little more oomph, but there's deep aftermarket support capable of taking care of that easily.
What's it like to drive?
The MX-5 is one of the purest drivers' cars available with a licence plate, and the Sport Black continues to be just that.
Some tweaks have been made to the suspensions of all 2018 model year versions of the car - this included - but you'd be hard-pressed to spot a difference, unless you drove a pre-fettled car side-by-side.
As well as being a lot of fun on a back road, the MX-5 RF Sport Black has genuine ability to be used as a daily machine. Steering is well-weighted for town driving, and compact dimensions allow parking to be a breeze, although the large rear buttresses on the RF means rear visibility is pretty limited.
How does it look?
The Sport Black doesn't revolutionise the way the MX-5 RF looks, but it does add some unique features. Exterior trimmings include a black spoiler and wing mirror housings, while 17-inch alloy wheels feature too.
There's just the one paint option here and no, it's not black - rather Eternal Blue Mica. We're big fans of the way the MX-5 looks, with a compact yet aggressive visual presence, only enhanced by the RF's hardtop roof which looks best when up.
What's it like inside?
Again, there's very little change inside the cabin of the Sport Black - with the trademark Mazda interior design remaining in its entirety. What is added is also pretty minor, with model-specific scuff plates, floor mats and a plaque on the dash marking it out. This isn't a bad thing, though.
The interior of the MX-5 has always been a nice place to be, with a driver-centric cockpit heightening the sporty feel the car's so known for. It all feels exceptionally well-built too, with a good amount of premium-feel materials utilised across the board.
As for practicality, this (perhaps obviously) isn't a strong point of the MX-5.
There's seating for two, while boot space is a mere 130 litres - enough for a weekend trip away, but very little more than that.
What's the spec like?
Based on SE-L Nav trim, the MX-5 RF Sport Black comes with cruise control, keyless start, LED headlights and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth support as standard. On top of that, the limited-edition trim brings leather seats, rain-sensing wipers and rear parking sensors to the equation for no extra cost. It's a pretty well-equipped setup, especially considering the rival-undercutting £25,695 price tag, while Mazda's infotainment system remains one of the best around - offering a level of usability that other manufacturers at this price point often struggle to deliver. We wouldn't call the Sport Black's upgrades an absolute must-have, but for those looking for a bit more equipment, it presents an appealing option.
The Mazda MX-5 RF Sport Black presents another great opportunity to get in on the fun world of MX-5 ownership. It's a car that continues to offer tons of fun behind the wheel, while remaining well-valued and genuinely usable as an everyday runabout. The Sport Black trim admittedly doesn't bring much extra to make it an absolute must-buy in the range, but does bring an extra bit of gear over SE-L Nav machines that could make it an appealing bargain for the right buyer.
Facts at a glance
Model: Mazda MX-5 RF Sport Black
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
Power (bhp): 158
Torque (Nm): 200
Max speed (mph): 134
0-60mph: 7.2 seconds
Emissions (g/km): 161