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Mazda adds focus to the 2021 MX-5 RF and Roadster range with new RS grade

John Law

A track-focused version of the Mazda MX-5 will be added in 2021 with a new RS grade that is similar to the Toyota 86 with a performance pack.

Mazda has always had a diverse bunch to please with the MX-5, from those who use it as a daily sports car and appreciate the soft suspension to those who take driving rather more seriously.

The standard MX-5 provides thrills at road speeds, but as good as the ND generation car is, it has always been just a touch softer than is suitable for track use.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS 2021 wheels
Mazda will add a new track-focused variant of the MX-5 known as the GT RS in 2021

Step in this new RS variant, which should add an extra degree of focus to the MX-5’s fun persona. Based on the GT specification, this sportier take is available in both RF and Roadster guise from $47,020 plus on-road costs.

Justifying how unique the Australian buyer is, this sharper MX-5 is bound for our shores exclusively in January 2021. Mazda Australia Managing Director Vinesh Bhindi said the RS “is the embodiment of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom philosophy”.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS 2021 wide shot
The lightweight MX-5 car will gain added braking power and Bilstein dampers

What’s new for the RS grade?

Mazda’s list of upgrades is similar to those of the Toyota 86’s Performance Pack. Like that package, the RS grade tacks an extra $3,000 onto the price of a 2.0 GT with a manual ‘box.

Firstly, a set of forged BBS 17-inch alloy wheels shod in familiar 205/45 Bridgestone Potenza S001 rubber features. True track-rats will upgrade the rubber fairly quickly, mind you.

A set of beefy four-piston Brembo brake calipers now hang on the front axle, replacing sliding single-piston units. Performance pads are fitted, too, slated to reduce fade by 26 per cent.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS 2021 interior
The MX-5 GT RS gains the same leather upholstery as soon on the regular GT model

Mazda has fitted the RS grade MX-5s with a set of sophisticated Bilstein dampers; these are similar to those found on the fantastically orange 30th Anniversary edition. Bilstein dampers have gained a reputation for their unique ride quality and near-transformative handling effects over more conventional suspension systems.

Finally, an alloy strut tower brace sits in the engine bay to provide crisper turn-in, and trainspotters will be able to distinguish an RS variant by its black mirror caps

The RS spec otherwise mirrors the GT, which means leather upholstery, seven-inch infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors.

Mazda MX-5 RF GT RS 2021 rear
The GT RS arrives with a set of BBS 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with Potenza S001 rubber

Is there anything else new for 2021?

The engine line-up remains the same. A two-litre ‘Skyactiv G’ engine with 135kW and 205Nm powers the majority of MX-5s – including the RS grades – while a 1.5-litre ‘four making 97kW 152Nm powers the entry-level roadster.

Naturally, a six-speed manual with limited-slip differential is the default gearbox choice, though Mazda offers a six-speed torque converter for an extra $2,000 without an LSD.

2020 Toyota 86 - 6
The MX-5 GT RS packs similar upgraded items as the Performance Package offered on the Toyota GT 86

2021 sees wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to the MZD Connect software, though the small seven-inch partially-touchscreen display remains. 

Pure White nappa leather can be optioned on the opulent RF GT Black Roof grade, while a new Deep Crystal Blue hue joins the colour choices.

The updated Mazda MX-5 line-up will go on sale in January of 2021 from $36,090 plus on-road costs. 

Mazda MX-5 2021: Price in Australia

All prices are before on-road costs.

  • MX-5 Roadster 1.5 MT – $36,090
  • MX-5 Roadster 1.5 AT – $38,090
  • MX-5 Roadster GT 2.0 MT – $44,020
  • MX-5 Roadster GT 2.0 AT – $44,020
  • MX-5 Roadster GT RS 2.0 MT – $47,020
  • MX-5 RF 2.0 MT – $41,400
  • MX-5 RF 2.0 AT – $43,400
  • MX-5 RF GT 2.0 MT – $48,100
  • MX-5 RF GT 2.0 AT – $50,100
  • MX-5 RF GT RS 2.0 MT – $51,100
  • MX-5 RF GT Black Roof 2.0 MT – $49,120
  • MX-5 RF GT Black Roof 2.0 AT – $51,120