Best and worst thing about RF as a daily

Recently joined this forum as I’m considering buying a late (19/20/21) RF as a daily.
Most of my driving is on fast bumpy A and B roads in southern England, and I rarely travel for more than an hour at a time. I do about 10k a year.
I do have a horrible traffic infested 8 mile urban commute though, 3 or 4 times a week, so will probably buy an auto.
I’m used to 350hp+, and lots of torque as I’ve been in big engined BMW’s for years, currently M140.
I’m a little concerned about refinement, nvh etc in an RF, but want to drive something that gives back more as you make more effort, something missing from most current cars I feel.
The RF ticks many boxes, including the metal roof, as although I have a double garage, it’s full of motorcycles, so the car lives outside on the drive.
Any feedback welcome, or any questions.
Thanks and regards, OD


I purchased a 1.2 sport nav RF on a 18 plate in July 2020. I do travel in and out of Kingston and Wimbledon and other metro routes on A/B roads and in traffic. The auto would be a better purchase, However, you will be losing the ‘rifle-bolt’ action of the gear box, which is a dream. Personally, I have stopped driving my RF to work and use the wife’s fiesta. But, I have the biggest smile on my face and a feeling of joy when I get to drive my RF, its not a car for urban/metro driving in my opinion… others may disagree.
Hope this helps

I have a 2.0 rf, love it in and out of traffic. Was loaned a auto rf and tbh that was fun, sport mode was a giggle as it just holds it deep into the red before swapping up, not great on fuel doing that mind.
I live on lincolnshire b and no named roads near cadwell, never had as much fun driving them as in my rf

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I have a 2017 2.0 RF auto as my daily driver and it suits my driving very well: bumpy A, B and C roads and some motorway. Mine is a Sport Nav+ and the standard suspension is more capable and comfortable than both my wife’s VW T-Roc R and my son’s Polo GTi.
I find the adaptive LED headlights are particularly nice on very twisty roads.

You might like to compare the power and torque curves for ND1 vs ND2.

Interior noise levels seem sl greater than our other household cars despite me doing the sound tube delete.

For me, the most important thing is that I smile when I walk past it in the garage as well as everyime I drive it :smiley:

Just my opinion though…

Think you may find the MX-5 under powered compared to what you have been driving.
As always get a test drive to make your own mind up.
Alternatives may suit you better like BMW Z4, or maybe Porsche Boxster or Cayman PDK auto, will be much older car of course, probably 2010 for that sort of budget, and they can be pricey to repair.

Thanks for the thoughts guys, really appreciated.
I’ve been through the other BM/Porsche/MB alternatives and to be honest if I went down that route I’d want a car with the same power train as I have now - b58/ZF8, and they’re all too big and heavy, and expensive,. I don’t want an older Porsche as they can be money pits, and the only ones with a flat 6 are either too new, or quite old.
I’ve also factored in the very light weight of the 5, which I think is something I want as large hp figures when pushing around 1600kg plus doesn’t always equal driving pleasure imo, especially on the roads I use.
I will have to drive one to see what I think, but I’m already considering additional soundproofing as per a thread on here somewhere, Bilstein suspension, brembo s, a light pressure turbocharger conversion, probably BBR when they do one, for more torque, plus a manual nd diff for its LSD, even though it has a longer ratio.
Modifying doesn’t worry me, as I have the capability to do a lot myself and have a mechanical engineering background. The base car just has to be liveable with in the first place.

I almost created a thread answering this exact question about 4 times this week!
I daily my Launch Edition RF doing a stretch down the M56 and then a few A/B roads as well as visiting my parents regularly down some excellent Cheshire B roads and absolutely love it.


  • As mentioned above ‘rifle-bolt’ action of the gear box is great fun
  • The washer fluid bottle is tiny, pretty sure I am refilling it every fortnight at the moment!
  • Water flows off the windscreen onto the top of the driver window which once dry can leaves road grime
  • My windscreen wipers (Bosch replacement blades) don’t perform well at high speeds and miss the bottom of the drivers side


  • I am 6’5" so have the seat back pressed against the plastic which can squeak
  • It is a convertible so the chassis can flex a bit causing the roof to makes a little noise (I do have delrin door bushes fitted)
  • As you have probably read on other threads, there can be a bit of buffeting at high speeds but I have never been bothered
  • I wouldn’t say lowering springs impacted ride quality

I am sure I thought of a few more things but can’t remember them right now so will update if/when I do remember :smile:

To be honest you would be better off with the BBR Super 220 conversion of the 2.0 ND2 rather than a turbocharger. The conversion produces 220 bhp at 7,800 rpm whilst maintaining a very flat torque curve. The increase in torque over the standard engine is only small which in the ND MX5 is a good thing as the ND gearbox has a limit to how much torque it can withstand. For turbo conversions BBR recommend fitting the NC gearbox using an adapter. However having said that I do not know the torque capabilities of the automatic gearbox on the ND.

Got to say though, after having the BBR Super 220 conversion done to my ND2 (soft top) the engine is a wonderful naturally aspirated experience all the way up to the rev limiter. According to a BBR YouTube video the Supper 220 is capable of 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 secs which is plenty fast enough.

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I have a B58 M140i and a ND1. I have to be honest I wouldn’t ever swap the M140 for a ND, it’s not even the same league. The B58 is, as you know, an experience in its self, I have no PPF on mine either so with MPE the sound is incredible, so smooth, so deep and not a hint of drone. I’ve tried a few exhausts in my ND and they drone like crazy.

The power delivery in the MX5 is linear but lacks the rush you get as a turbo comes on song and leaves me feeling underwhelmed. It’s not just that the M140 is faster it’s the way it feels. My brother in law has an Audi A3, a 2.0 turbo petrol, it’s only about 170bhp and my ND will pull away from it 0-60 but the Audi just feels sooooooo much faster in the way it delivered its power. 60-xxx the Audi would destroy the ND because the turbo makes so much more torque.

BBR describe the ND manual gearbox box as ‘chocolate’ due to its weak design. They strongly advise fitting a NC 3.75 6 speed box and swapping the rear diff at the same time. I’m not sure about the auto box. I’d like an auto but they lack even more than the manual when it comes to the ‘rush’ of acceleration. They may not be slower but they feel less exhilarating. I’d like a BBR turbo conversion but at £8000 with gear box, clutch, diff… No thanks!

The RF does buffet and make your ears feel funny with the roof down. Like driving a saloon with just the rear windows open. The ST doesn’t suffer this. The RF looks better roof up, ST looks better roof down. RF is more refined and may suffer less drone from after market exhausts but I’ve no experience of this.

As for squeaks, I’m fair impressed to be honest. Good build quality in general. I do have a black towel between the drivers seat and bulk head behind it, I’m 6’4 and have the seat fully back. Without a towel the leather seat on the plastic behind it sounds like you’re loading a game on a ZX spectrum and makes me want to drive into a tree to make it stop.

As a tall driver the handbrake intrudes into leg space when it’s down, not an issue on a LHD.

The steering wheel in the ND1 has height but not reach adjustment so the bottom of the wheel is very close to your legs. The telescopic column in the ND2 addresses this by moving the wheel closer to your body, this means you get loads more clearance between legs and wheel (about 50mm I find) because as it comes out it rises, your legs also get lower closer to your body because your ■■■ is lower than your knees.

The rear view mirror for a tall driver is useless. If you have it so you can see out of it you can’t see out the windscreen. If you raise it you can only see cars if they tailgate you or you bend your neck down a mile. Lots of people take them out and use door mirrors only.

Overdrive, what sort of budget are you on?

I think if your thinking of BBR mods, then a newish MX-5 starts getting expensive. A 19/20/21 reg RF is probably £25k used then maybe £2-4k for a BBR super 200 or a turbo, maybe almost £30k?

For £30k + I’d be looking at post 2012 981 model Boxster or Cayman PDK auto with the flat 6.

A BBR turbo is £5400 or so on its own. Then £800 for a bell housing adaptor. £300 for a clutch. £300 for a used NC 3.75 box, £150 for a used diff. Add on £1000 for brake upgrades. £8000.

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Thanks for everyone’s input.
I’ve considered Porsche, but am loathed to spend £30k plus on a car that’s heading for 10 years old, plus there’s the Porsche tax running one, even using indys. Same with M cars, (M4 cab. looks good value at the moment)
Budget RF wise I’d reckoned on mid £20’s, so nearly new.
I want to put some fun back into driving, the 140 overpowers it’s chassis, which I find frustrating, and don’t want to spend thousands sorting out. I’ve had an SL and SLK and love the folding roof arrangement (but not the way they drove) and the alternatives are all bigger, and heavy (z4, 4 series)
I know I’m not comparing like for like, and ideally I’d have an ND2 st as a 4th car, and keep the 140, but just can’t afford it. It will have to live outside, hence the RF not soft top. For the ultimate speed/acceleration kicks I’ve got bikes and track days, so really looking for something that’s not necessarily particularly fast, just rewarding, without being too much of a compromise day to day.

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The BBR turbo. Yes, expensive (if they even develop it) from what I’ve read the auto box should be capable of handling 250ft lbs, and if I changed the diff to the manual one for its lsd I’d fit it myself. (No lsd on auto)
With maybe 250hp, 250ft lbs, and decent tyres it may not need one for road use, which would be helpful as the FD ratio is different. - very much longer on the manual.

Our ND is my wife’s daily, but that’s for a 16mile run on country A and B roads, very limited traffic, she finds it superb for that run
We’ve come from a Porsche background and find that the MX5 gives fantastic smiles per mile. The performance is great and very very useable in normal circumstance (although we’ve gone BBR220 for some extra ooomph. ) . We found that we could end up at ridiculous speeds in the Boxsters and 911’s all too quickly.

Don’t believe the turbo is available for the ND2 yet though, but I feel the 220 is the sweet spot anyway (and very much to my preference for na engines)
Not much help I know :thinking:

Good luck with decision ! :grinning:

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I too changed a Boxster (one of the last pre-turbo ones) for an MX5. The Porsche is obviously a far better car, however it did cost a fortune to keep on the road and the MX5 is far more fun. Definitely slower, but you get to enjoy the drive not the speed. Would definitely not get a Porsche out of warranty. On an older one I had (it was 6 years old at the time) the sensors and other things went in the exhaust and it cost me £4,500 to get the light on the dashboard to go off. Was sensors and new cats, so I ended up with a complete standard exhaust from Porsche. Even my last Porsche had to have new brakes and a service and it cost me £2,500 all in. Never again!!

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The Porsche will always be the more expensive car to run, second hand car still has the same running/repair costs as new. Definitely agree with the warranty, even then Porsche always found things that fortunately were covered to generate work for themselves A good independent is needed, but even then the bills soon mounted.
The best one for costs we ever had was a 1990 911, that we sold to a dealer in 2016 after 10 years, it had appreciated around 2K per year and even then the dealer moved it on for a further profit on top of what he gave us !

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My ND2 RF is (okay not at the moment) my daily driver. It is a fun drive but compared to other (normal) cars in the price range it’s expensive, noisy and small. Our 9 year old Fiesta is more refined, I can’t imagine how the ND would feel after German luxo-sports-barges. Crude I imagine .
Personally I can’t see the need for any more power as you can’t use the revs much beyond 4th legally. The back end twitches More torque might reduce the number of gear changes but that’s the whole point isn’t it?
RF vs ST? My choice was RF as always parked outside and daily use including (at the time of purchase) regular long motorway trips. I like the look of the RF too. Others think the ST looks better.


I can see that if you are going to leave the car on the road all year, that the RF is a better and safer proposition.

I am fortunate that I have a drive and the car is not visible to passers by. However (when I get my new ST in March) I will use a Mazda half cover when it is going to be rainy or snowy etc. just to provide additional overnight protection.

I had an NA as a second car that was kept in the garage, but it was a pain to keep getting it in/out. I am swapping from a Golf GTi as my daily driver to an ST as I will virtually always have the roof down and I am willing to swap some parked practicality for less of a compromise when driving.

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Get electric garage doors. It’s no drama then :+1:.
Men and garages. Mines 22x22 and I’m having it extended 12 feet back this spring with a 34x12 car port on the far side with electric gates :rofl: SWIMBO says I need help :see_no_evil:


Its more the width of the garage.

The house was built in 1958 and the NA I put in there was a tiny car (I am sure it was designed for a mini…), but I had to get it right against one side so you could walk past it to get to the back of the garage as there is a side door at the frontmx5 garage full , as it is fairly long and we use the back quite a bit.

Also now my kids have cars, we have 4 cars on the drive, so if I want to get a car out of the garage I have to move a car off the drive first, then get the car out of the garage and put the other car back… a pain. Hence I am getting an MX5 that I can use everyday - I am not complaining at that in the slightest! In fact it was my wife that suggested it and within 15 minutes I had specced a car on line and ordered it not long after!!!