2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Performance

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Performance Rating

2023 MX-5 Miata RF Performance

Decades from now, we'll look back and realize that we were wrong about performance. Not that mundane EVs can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in four or fewer seconds, but that acceleration figures didn't really matter at all, contrary to what most muscle cars from the USA might try to prove.

What matters is the thrill of driving and speed doesn't play a significant role. The Miata is proof of this theory. When you think about it, automotive engineers already figured out how to provide the ultimate thrill decades ago. Think back to the most iconic driving machines ever. Examples include the original Mini, Datsun 240Z, Lotus Elise, McLaren F1, Ferrari F40, the Porsche 911, the original Golf GTI, and Lancia Stratos. What do they all have in common? The answer is low weight.

Weight is a car's main enemy. It impacts everything; performance, handling, and fuel efficiency. By sticking to the tried-and-trusted recipe of an engine up front, a driver in the middle, and right-wheel drive (also known as rear-wheel drive), Mazda built another driving icon. And it comes standard with a manual, which we maintain is an irreplaceable form of self-expression. Yes, it only has 181 horsepower, and a Golf GTI will eat it for breakfast. But do we care? Not even slightly.

There's another big argument to be made regarding speed. With 300 hp being the average these days, the speed at which cars become fun is relatively high. A Miata is fun at all speeds - not just its top speed - and you can push it hard without breaking the law. It'll still break the law though, and 0 to 60 in around six seconds is still nothing to scoff at.

2023 MX-5 Miata RF Performance Photos

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Front View Driving Mazda 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Rear View Driving Mazda 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Side View Driving Mazda
2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Front View Driving
2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Rear View Driving
2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Side View Driving

Engine and Transmission

The Miata uses a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-pot engine that delivers 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. These figures don't matter. The power to weight ratio matters more, and the standard manual Miata has 0.074 hp for every pound it has to move around. That's roughly hot-hatch territory. But, as we said earlier, it doesn't matter. Sure, a turbocharger would have made it faster, but then the joys of a naturally-aspirated engine would have been lost. The Miata's 2.0-liter four-pot is peaky but is perfect in this application. Maximum power is delivered at 7,000 rpm, which means you constantly have to chase the redline for maximum thrills. It's addictive, but only in six-speed manual configuration. The automatic gearbox is clunky and has no place in a car like this. We feel so strongly about the Miata's automatic transmission that we'd physically go and protest its existence at a dealership. Some of the CarBuzz staff may even have done so already.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Performance Specs:

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF TrimsMazda MX-5 Miata RF EnginesMazda MX-5 Miata RF HorsepowerMazda MX-5 Miata RF TransmissionsMazda MX-5 Miata RF DrivetrainsMazda MX-5 Miata RF MPG/MPGE
Grand Touring2.0L Inline-4 Gas181 hp @ 7000 rpm6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
30 MPG
Club2.0L Inline-4 Gas181 hp @ 7000 rpm6-Speed ManualRWD29 MPG

2023 MX-5 Miata RF Gas Mileage

The upside of having a small engine is class-leading gas mileage. Few cars can match the Mazda's EPA-estimated figures of 26/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined with a manual gearbox. The automatic transmission is more efficient, with a rating of 26/35/30 mpg.

Mazda only gave the Miata a tiny 11.9-gallon gas tank, but given the impressive combined fuel consumption figures, it should be able to do 357 miles between refills. In our week of use, the MX-5 RF sipped fuel when cruising and gave us 26 mpg despite a lot of mountain cruising and spirited back-road driving.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Fuel Capacity

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF TrimsGrand TouringClub
Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Tank size4.5 gal.4.5 gal.
Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Fuel Economy (Cty/Hwy)26/3426/34
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