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May 22, 2023

2023 Mazda MX-5 RF: Long-Term Test Introduction

Remember that owner who gave me access to a 2023 Snowflake White Mazda MX-5 RF late last year? You know, the one with the Terracota interior? Well, I’ve got a confession to make: I’m that bastard. At the time, I felt prudent not to announce it all over the internet primarily because there was a supply shortage of MX-5s. But now that supplies have stabilized (more or less) and wait lists have shortened (more or less), it’s time for me to discuss ownership of the two-seater sportscar.

First up, why go for an MX-5 RF when there’s no lack of choices here in the Philippines? Just on the top of my head, there’s the Subaru BRZ, the Toyota GR 86 (or GR Yaris for that matter), the Nissan 370Z, or if I want something ‘Murican, the Ford Mustang Ecoboost. Well, my reason was simple: the MX-5 simply fit the bill of what I was looking for.

See, I wasn’t looking for a weekend car or occasional track toy; no. I was looking for a daily driver. I was looking for something that I wouldn’t mind slogging through EDSA in, but I could, from time-to-time, take on trips out-of-town. This required a sportscar with some flexibility—something that could provide comfort, yet be entertaining enough behind the wheel. Now, in all the time I’ve been driving the MX-5 from the fourth-generation ND’s global drive in Barcelona up to now, I could, without a doubt, say that no other sportscar in its price bracket could match its balance of comfort and fun.

By the time I had configured my dream MX-5 and plopped down a reservation, the global chip shortage meant an excruciatingly long wait. During that time, the all-new Subaru BRZ arrived locally, and Toyota already started taking orders for the all-new Toyota GR 86. At this point, I was worried if I made the right choice. But after driving the second-generation Subaru BRZ, there was a sigh of relief: I made the right decision sticking to Mazda on this one. For all the improvements Subaru’s done on the BRZ, it just didn’t connect with me on an emotional. It felt cold and distant; very much like a tool.

For those wondering, the Subaru BRZ was my second choice (read my review here). The GR Yaris, I did consider for a split-second, but it just felt too immature; too boy racer for me. Sadly, I didn’t get to drive it before the test unit was totaled, but I think I’m just too old for that shit.

Honestly, my first color choice was Machine Gray. But after going through two Machine Gray-colored Mazdas—a Mazda3 and CX-30, it requires more frequent washing than I’m comfortable with (it’s almost like black in the way it attracts dust). Snowflake White was my second choice, though given that I’ve seen Platinum Quartz now, I find that an attractive color too.

Now, onto the MX-5 RF ownership itself, I’m happy to report that it’s been an uneventful nine months so far. I’ve managed to log in roughly 5,100-plus kilometers in that span of time, taking the roadster as far up as the Clark International Speedway (not for a track day) and down south as Tagaytay. To be perfectly honest, I wish it could see more driving roads further up north or down south, but given my busy schedule (the motoring calendar’s back in full swing), I haven’t had the time nor the mental capacity to take on a long drive. Perhaps a long drive in the should be something I should plan for in the future.

Still, I’m quite surprised at how adept it is as a daily driver. Despite looking so low to the ground, the MX-5 has one of the best ground clearances in a sportscar (135 mm). Coupled with its short overhangs and wheelbase, there’s little need to change preexisting driving habits. Humps, speed bumps, parking inclines, and the like can be taken the usual way (especially true since the local spec removed the body kit). I’ve yet to encounter any driveway that’ll cause the front bumper to scrape. If there is, I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted in my next update.

Oh, because the MX-5 doesn’t come with a spare tire, but a tire inflator kit, I decided to bump up the tire pressure from the recommended 29 PSI to 31 PSI for increased puncture protection. So far, there has been no detrimental effect on the ride quality.

Even better, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder isn’t picky. Compared to, say, the Subaru BRZ or Toyota GR 86, that requires a strict 97-octane fuel, the MX-5 RF runs on 95-octane. From time to time though, I do switch over to a higher-octane fuel, particularly Petron Blaze. This is purely anecdotal, but I do notice it running more smoothly. Average fuel mileage so far? 10.64 km/L. And before I get chastised for it, yes, I did get my MX-5 RF in a 6-speed automatic. Again, I daily drive the thing; I deserve to rest my left foot every now and then, right? And besides, even for long drives, it’s the one with cruise control so take that, speed cameras!

Mazda Philippines should also be happy to know that I’ve managed to resist upgrading the MX-5 RF in any major way, preferring to keep things stock. Although, I’d probably splurge on a set of Rays ZE40s. Pretty sure though they’ll cost me an arm, a leg, and a kidney, so I’ll keep the wheels and tires all stock for now.

There are a couple of things I did change on the MX-5 RF. For one, I changed the stock RC-like antenna for a Cravenspeed Stubby. And because I ordered them from Amazon, I decided to get them along with the Cravenspeed Door Bushings as well. I find that they’ve improved the door closing sound, while also reducing the cowl shake—a common issue with the MX-5 NDs. From time to time, you can still hear some shimmies, but so far, nothing irritating. One time, there was a bad cause of rattling, but I narrowed it down to a loose roof fastener that I simply popped back into place.

More rubber parts come in the form of WeatherTech floor mats. I wanted to go for WeatherTech floor liner for the cargo hold as well, but because they don’t cover the entire surface (just the depressed portion), I went for the OE rubber trunk mat which does.

I’ve also attached a dash cam, too. With the MX-5’s small windshield, picking the right one can be hard. And after looking around at the different choices out there, I decided to get a 70mai M500 dash cam. This isn’t an endorsement, mind you, but I liked it for its low-profile design. Its stick-like design (it doesn’t have any screen) allows it to sit almost in front of the rearview mirror. Settings and playback is done via a dedicated smartphone app. What’s more, wiring it is pretty easy. Drop the headliner, snake the cabin to the driver’s footwell (where the 12-volt socket is located), and there you have it. Easy-peasy.

Then when it comes to lighting, I swapped out the OE peanut bulbs to PIAA LED ones. That goes for all lighting from the cabin and trunk light to the license plate and reverse lights. Looking back, I’d like to caution MX-5 owners from swapping their non-LED reverse lights for LED ones because it can sometimes cause the parking camera to produce a washed-out image at night; the PIAA LED lights are just too darn bright.

Perhaps the most expensive mod I’ve installed so far is the SmartTop module. Being a Retractable Fastback or RF, my MX-5 comes with the added luxury of a power-operated targa top that folds away in 13 seconds or so. However, as stock, it only works up to speeds of 10 km/h, plus you need to keep your right hand constantly pressing down on the switch until the operation’s completed. With the SmartTop module, I’ve bumped up the operation speed to 50 km/h (I dare not operate the top at that speed though) and activated the one-touch switch mode too. Unlike the other mods I’ve installed, this one requires some wrenching (you’ll need to open the rear panel behind the driver’s seat and all that). But it’s something easily done for as long as you have the right tools.

There you have it. So far, that’s the ninth month ownership update on the Mazda MX-5 RF. I’ll be continuing this with a series of updates in the near future, but if you’ve got any questions at this point, be sure to drop a note below and I’ll try my best to answer them.


  1. So, is the ND Miata the best sports car currently available today?

    1. For my purposes, I'd say, yes. I'm sure different people have different criteria, but the MX-5 ND is the one that fits me.

  2. How long did you wait for your unit to arrive? And how does it compare to the mazda3 as a daily driver?

    1. About a year. Ordered in May 2021, got it August 2022. At least it's the 2023 model already though with the Kinetic Posture Control, so that's a bonus there.

      Hard to compare with a Mazda3--apples to oranges. But I find that I don't scrape in the MX-5 (I tend to do sometimes with the Mazda3). Mazda3 though has better interior materials, better tech. NVH. MX-5 is livelier and agile like a sportscar should be.

    2. Is the Mazda 3 lower than the MX-5?

    3. It's funny GR that all your comments in all the post are questions. Anyway, to answer, no. The Mazda3 has 150 mm ground clearance, but because of its longer front overhang and the way the front bumper is shaped, it tends to scrape more if you're not careful going over humps, bumps, etc.

  3. any issues with white paint? i heard machine grey and soul red are prone to chips

    1. So far, I've had one stone chip (front fender), but I've learned just to let it go and just enjoy the car hahaha. But to answer your question, it seems that yes, Mazdas, are more prone to stone chip damage than say, my Subaru before.

  4. Nothing beats japanese design and quality

  5. You waited for a year just to get that beauty and you tried to keep it secret as if your guilty of stealing someone else's order, hehe.. unless you really just wanna keep it lowkey by not announcing to the public that you own one. Well, i wouldn't ask any questions but to just congratulate you sir and say "Sana ALL!"

    1. Stealing someone's order isn't possible with the MX-5. After I got my car, Mazda PH showed me how they handle orders with fairness compared to other brands.

      Their small operations mean that they collate all orders into one central database and that they put them in a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of dealer. Dealers aren't allowed to order an MX-5 for stocking purposes. Each one is allocated to a particular person. This lessens the possibility of it ending up at re-sellers.

      Orders are fulfilled based on when Mazda Japan can serve a particular order. If, for example, a particular MX-5 build isn't available--say the Club Edition with the BBS wheels and Recaro seats (that's actually the variant with the longest wait time)--they simply move people up the list.

      In short, if you got a more popular combination, you're sure to get your car earlier.

      In my case, the terracotta nappa leather option is on the rarer side and that meant a longer wait time compared to if I got the black leather one.

      More carmakers should adopt this for small volume models to reduce, or potentially, eliminate cars just ending up with re-sellers that'll just jack up the price. It just ruins the overall brand experience.

  6. Have you tried Global Dominion Financing Inc. for car financing?

    1. All you need to know is here:

      Wow check out their negative reviews:



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