2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club RF: As fun with a hardtop?
Price: $34,565 as tested. No options on test vehicle. (The Club is the midlevel MX-5, between Sports and Grand Touring.)
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend likes the "pure driving joy, distilled, super-simple soft top operation, good fuel economy," but not that it's "nervous at the limit, teeny tiny trunk capacity."
Marketer's pitch: "Give in to the temptation."
Reality: All the other marketing departments can go home; Mazda just won marketer's pitches.
Summer fun: Test-driving this car was like coming down to earth -- literally riding near the road and enjoying the open air.
What's new: The little two-seater gets some new features available at lower trim levels and standard sport-tuned suspension on Grand Touring.
Summer fun: I always forget that the RF comes with a retractable roof (RF = retractable fastback, smart guy). It's not quite the same as a convertible, with the rear window and pillars still in place, but it's pretty close.
On the road: There's nothing quite like riding around at eye level with the tiger lilies on a summer drive. Especially when the MX-5 makes all the right moves. Zipping around the countryside remains a blast.
Shifty: An automatic in a two-seater should be against the law. Even a shiftable one. Especially a shiftable one like this one, which won't let me shift exactly when I want to. It forever decided I was headed to second too soon, and then I'd not realize it and hear the engine whining pitifully at high revs, thinking, "Gosh if this were my car, I'd need a new transmission at 50,000 miles."