Mazda MX-5 GT RS 2021 Review

Mazda MX-5 GT RS Road Test Review

Mazda MX-5 GT RS – Following precedent going back three generations, Mazda has launched an enhanced version of the current MX-5 sports car as it approaches the end of its model life.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS To keep sales ticking over MX-5 GT RS has arrived sporting the three Bs…. Brembo brakes, BBS forged alloys and Bilstein dampers.

On top of this, the RS has sporty Bridgestone tyres (another B), upgraded brake pads and an alloy strut brace linking the front suspension towers under the bonnet.

Some additional safety equipment also makes an appearance along with highlight colours to exterior components.

There’s a premium for the RS which goes for $47,020 plus on roads for the 6-speed manual a little less for the 6-speed auto.

The latest ND model of MX-5 has been around for 6 years now and if Mazda is going to replace it, that should happen within the next year or two.

In the meantime, there are plenty of choices if you want to own this iconic sports car in 1.5 and 2.0-litre versions with manual and auto transmission and soft top (roadster)/hard top (RF).

All are superlative driver’s cars particularly the 2.0-litre as it gained more power last year to 135kW/205Nm and other refinements. This heightened MX-5’s fun factor as it now has strong performance instantly on tap from the non-turbo, direct injection, 2.0-litre, petrol four-cylinder engine.

Weighing it at just 1050kg aids performance and sharpens handling making MX-5 a hoot to drive on the road and at the track.

With the extras fitted to the RS model, everything is ratcheted up a few notches.

New colours too and more safety kit, some a touch intrusive.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS

MX-5 GT RS Exterior

The look is the same as it’s been since 2015 when the ND model first broke cover. It is a compact, two door, two seater, edgy version of Mazda’s trade mark Kodo design with a low, broad front tapering to a narrow back with slanted headlights and cat-eye tail lights.

The profile arcs up from the angry looking front over the front guards, level past the doors and then kicks up at the rear.

Pumped out guards give a sporty stance and the diminutive roadster seems crouched ready to pounce.

With a soft top, the lines are quintessential sports car accentuated by the broad bonnet and short rear end.

Overall, the ND has beautifully sculpted lines that aren’t too over-the-top… long nose, small two seat passenger compartment, low set soft top and truncated rear.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS

MX-5 GT RS Interior

Inside is pure Mazda focussed on that chunky steering wheel and compact, three dial instrument pod.

There isn’t much superfluous stuff inside as Mazda kept MX-5’s interior clean and functional.

There’s the now obligatory centre control screen containing Mazda’s excellent MZD Connect infotainment system and a three dial panel for heating and ventilation under that.

With compact dimensions, nothing is out of reach inside and the leather clad, heated sports seats offer plenty of support.

Mazda even positioned the hand brake lever on the driver’s side. Numbered among premium inclusions are Bose audio and hard wired satnav.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS

MX-5 GT RS Features

Plenty on offer here;

  • Cruise control
  • LED headlights/tail lights
  • Wireless Apple Car Play
  • Heated exterior mirrors
  • Alloy strut brace
  • Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres
  • Bilstein dampers
  • BBS forged alloys
  • Brembo brakes

Mazda MX-5 GT RS

MX-5 GT RS Drive and Engine

It has a lot more get-go than the earlier 2.0-litre thanks to the additional power which translates into stronger acceleration off the mark and through the entire engine operating range. Plant your right foot and this MX-5 takes off. The manual driven has closely spaced gears that capture available power and torque while providing a short, sharp shift action.

There’s even a bit of a rasp to the exhaust when you give it some “welly”.

The GT RS has tidy dynamics that tend to the sporty side especially with Bilstein dampers and sticky tyres. They contribute to the car’s composed handling on all types of roads though for track driving, having a firmer option would be handy. And plenty of MX-5s get on the track.

As it stands, the GT RS delivers sports car feel in spades from the sharp steering to the powerful brakes, slick close ratio gearbox and raspy, punchy engine. All boxes ticked.

It’s fairly comfortable too and can be happily driven on an interstate run without flinching (Covid restrictions permitting).

Fuel economy is good at 6.8-litres/100km and driving with the easily retractable roof off is a joy in most weather.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS

MX-5 GT RS Safety

Five stars with the added benefit of advanced driver assist features like blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, smart city autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert etc. Plus the benefit of having one of the most nimble cars you can get.

MX-5 GT RS Summary

Yep, already sold on the MX-5. A quality, feel-good car slowly becoming overtaken by intrusive driver assist technology… like everything else really. Get in quick before the “driving” is factored out of the equation.

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • Soft top styling – a real sports car
  • More power/performance
  • Additional quality components on RS welcome
  • Getting Pricey
  • Tight cabin
  • Some intrusive advanced driver assist tech’

Also Look At

There isn’t anything directly comparable to the MX-5 in today’s market.

Mazda MX-5 GT RS


Mazda MX-5 GT RS 2021

Model PriceFrom $51,100 MLP*
Engine2.0L 4 Cyl Petrol
Drivetrain6 speed MT RWD
Power135kW at 7,000rpm
Torque205 Nm @ 4,000rpm
Safety5 Star ANCAP (Tested 2015)
CO2 Emissions187 g/km
0-100kmh / top speedN/A
Economy ADR / Tank9.2 L/100km | 11.2 L/100km over our test | 45L
Servicing12 months / 10,000 km | Set service costs
Warranty5yr/ Unlimited km with 5 Yr. conditional roadside assist

 *MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options.

  • 8/10
    Overall Rating - 8/10


Yep, already sold on the MX-5. A quality, feel-good car slowly becoming overtaken by intrusive driver assist technology… like everything else really. Get in quick before the “driving” is factored out of the equation.