2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF (ND2) Review

Photography by ©2019 Toni Avery

The 2019 MX-5 (ND2) may look just like the 2018 (ND1), but there is a significant difference. You can’t see it by looking at the car, but you can definitely feel it. If you’re at all into the Mazda brand, sports car in general or just an avid reader of car reviews, you already know that this drop top two-seater has more get-up-and-go than the last year’s model.

This ND2 MX-5 is equipped with a 2.0 L 4-cylinder SKYACTIV engine with a number of updates and changes that “improved response, performance, feel and efficiency,” according to Mazda. A big change was the redline that was increased from 6800 to 7500 RPM. The car’s ability to rev higher really helps it feel quicker than the last MX-5.

“Each piston has been reduced 27g in mass, thanks to a minimized skirt area. Connecting rods are 41g lighter than previous units. The upgraded engine carries an increased valve opening angle and valve lift height. The inner diameter of the exhaust manifold has also been increased. The net results are a 30-percent reduction in pumping losses. Reconfigured intake ports and new high-diffusion, higher-pressure fuel injectors improve the tumble and swirl of fuel in the cylinder and better-atomize fuel. The benefit is improved efficiency and torque at all RPMs. Replacing the single-mass flywheel with a low-inertia, dual-mass flywheel improved smoothness and responsiveness. The transmission’s final drive ratio has been increased from 3.454 to 3.583 in models equipped with an automatic transmission in order to improve linear response to match the driver’s intentions. Gear ratios are otherwise unchanged from previous models,” Mazda states. A new exhaust system has also been added, resulting in a richer sound.

As a result of the above-mentioned changes and improvements, the horsepower has been bumped up from 155 @6000 RPM to 181 @7000 RPM. That’s an increase of 26 HP. That may not sound like a lot, but think of it this way; the 2019 MX-5 weighs in at 2,453 lb (eight more pounds than the 2018 car), and for a car of that weight class, 26 HP is a significant increase. Especially because the car now redlines at 7500 RPM as opposed to 6800 RPM on the 2018 version. And of course there is an increase in torque. Torque has gone from 148 lb-ft @4600 RPM to 151 lb-ft @4000 RPM. The car definitely feels torquier down low helping it to get off the line faster.

“As a result of numerous changes, the MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai – ‘horse and rider as one’ – engineering philosophy.” –all quoted information is from the 2019 MX-5 press kit.

It’s easy to tell from the first time you rev the car up that the power increase makes a noticeable difference. I really enjoyed the overall feel of the ND2 over the ND1, which is hard to believe as the ND generation is so fun to drive.

Also new to the ND2 is Sport i-ACTIVSENSE Package that includes Smart City Brake Support, Lane-Departure warning and Blind Spot Monitoring. All of these features were equipped on my vehicle. The new GT-S Package includes a limited slip rear differential, Bilstein dampers and shock tower brace (manual only).

This MX-5 is finished in Ceramic Metallic with the optional black roof (part of the GT-S package). Aesthetically, the only difference from 2018 to 2019 is the camera on the rear bumper of the ND2 car. Other than that, the 2019 looks the same. For previous ND reviews click here or here.

The interior of this MX-5 is finished in black leather with the optional brushed aluminum door sills (part of the interior package). Inside, the ND2 is the same as the ND1. No changes there. But just like the last time I reviewed one, I seem to not be able to find a comfortable seating position while driving, especially in heavy traffic. I’d really like to test an MX-5 with the Recaro seats to see if these make a difference in comfort both in city and highway traffic.

I enjoyed seeing what the ND2 is all about with its increase in horsepower, torque and redline. I hope to review a Club with Recaro seats to see if that would be the ultimate ND!

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF:

Base Price: $33,335

Options:

GT-S Package (limited-slip differential, front shock tower brace, black roof $750),

interior package for manual transmission (alloy pedals, stainless door sill trim plates,

oil cap, $425)

Destination Charge: $895

Total Price: $35,405

Fuel Economy: 26 City, 34 Highway, 29 Combined 

 GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF an overall rating of (out of 5 total):

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