2019 Mazda MX-5 – Hard Top or Soft Top, Which Would We Choose

by Michael Taylor (@trackworthy),

Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is the bestselling two-seater roadster in the world. It has an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records to prove it, with more than one million MX-5’s manufactured so far. It is a formula that has been winning over drivers since it was first introduced in 1989. New for 2019 is more power from its higher revving engine for both the MX-5 soft top and MX-5 RF.

Retractable Fastback hard top. Both the extra hp and higher revving engine are welcome additions. Both cars are very similar yet quite different. Which one is best for you, the soft top or hard top? That really boils down to where you live and how much use you want to get out of your MX-5.

MORE HORSEPOWER
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF has a curb weight of 2,465 pounds (1,118 kg). The soft top weighs in at just 2,348 pounds (1,065 kg) with the 6-speed manual transmission, the transmission of our choice. Horsepower is up for both models for the 2019 model year with the 2.0 litre inline 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engines generating 181 hp at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft pf torque at 4,000 rpm. Horsepower is up 26 ponies or 17% and torque is up 3 lb-ft or 2% from last year’s model. Redline for the 2019 engine has been increased from 6,800 rpm to a freer revving 7,500 rpm.


The new engine delivers better fuel-efficiency, is more eco-friendly and has a better sounding engine note. The main silencer system has a new inner structure that absorbs high frequencies, resulting in a nicer throatier sound. To generate more power the engine received thorough revisions to every area including the intake and exhaust systems, and combustion chambers, pistons and connecting rods. The single-mass flywheel has been replaced by a low-inertia dual-mass flywheel.

HARD TOP VS. SOFT TOP
We had the opportunity of driving both models back to back and have determined which we think would work best, depending on the type of driving the MX-5 owner want to do. The soft top is quieter with the top down, whereas the RF has more wind noise with its roof retracted. At highway speeds, the soft top has more wind and road noise with its top closed. The RF, on the other hand, does a great job of mimicking a coupe with its retractable hardtop securely in place. At highway speeds it provides a very civilized, weatherproof and soundproof environment. Therefore, if the owner of the MX-5 plans to use the car primarily for sunny summer weekend drives, the soft top will deliver the most pure and classic roadster driving experience. If the MX-5 owner wants to use his car as much more of a daily driver, and drive the car well into the fall/winter season, and get it back out on the roads before all of the snow has melted, the RF would be a great choice.

2019 UPDATES
The 17” aluminum rims are now black metallic, matching the piano black door mirrors. The previous rims were gun metal grey metallic. The 16” aluminum rims have changed from silver to black metallic. A telescopic steering wheel adjustment is now available in addition its tilt adjustment capability.

Both cars have a new backup camera and an available forward facing camera that recognizes traffic signs and conveys that information to the driver via the Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR).

PRICING
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF starts at $39,000 for the entry level GS-P and $42,900 for the entry base GT model. The 2019 soft top starts at $32,900 for the base GS, $36,900 for the base GS-P and $39,900 for the base GT. Prices exclude options, freight, PDI, taxes and license.

OUR TAKE
As residents of central Canada, where we experience all four seasons in abundance, and we were trying to decide between the RF or soft top, we would opt for the RF, especially if we were going to try to drive it all year long. With a set of snow tires and a not too severe winter, it would likely be possible to drive the MX-5 RF all year long.

The same is true for the soft top but it is ideally suited for those sunny summer days with the top down on an open winding country road. If the MX-5 is simply a second car, garage queen and meant to be taken out on sunny days only, then the soft top really is the model of choice. Either way, the increased horsepower for the 2019 model year provides that much more driving enjoyment for the bestselling two-seater roadster of all time.

Mazda MX-5
 

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