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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF arrives with a big Targa on its back (pictures)

Mazda has brought a power folding hardtop MX-5 Miata model out at the New York Auto Show, but with a uniquely rakish twist on the genre.

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Chris Paukert

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

RF stands for "Retractable Hardtop."

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The top retracts in 12 seconds flat, one of the quicker such times in the industry.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The front sheetmetal on the Miata MX-5 RF is understandably unchanged from its soft-top brethren.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The fastback treatment lends the MX-5 RF a coupe-like profile.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

For the fourth-generation Miata, Mazda adopted a much more aggressive and less cutesy front end.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Despite its compact proportions, the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF has a long hood to emphasize its rear-wheel-drive nature.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Rear three-quarter visibility is likely to be an issue with the RF, but the standard Miata does offer blind-spot assist technology, and it's reasonable to expect it here.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The small rear window power retracts without impinging on interior or cargo space.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

You can see the panel cut lines on the RF's blacked-out roof, but they're a lot subtler than most retractable hardtop convertibles.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Underneath that hood beats Mazda's Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 155 horsepower.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

LED headlamps are standard on the ND Miata -- they're brighter, physically lighter and more compact than standard halogen lights.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The Miata MX-5 RF will likely continue to be available in a range of trims, including Club and Grand Touring.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

This particular model is a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, but the manual transmission will likely be more fun.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Dubbed Machine Gray, this new paint color does a nice job of looking sinister while showing off the Miata's body lines.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Flying buttresses!

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The real question is, will this car feel like a true convertible underway, or more like a targa or a car with a large sunroof?

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The addition of the rear buttresses will likely serve to reduce cabin wind turbulence.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

This Miata is shod with Bridgestone Potenza rubber.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The soft-top Miata's tail lamp design makes it over to the RF, too. It's one of the car's most unique and controversial styling elements.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

A pair of simple, unadorned tailpipes sits underneath the rear fascia.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The RF's fastback roofline almost imbues it with a certain Pontiac Solstice Coupe-like quality from some angles.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The new mechanism for the retractable lid weighs about 110 pounds. That's more than the power folding hardtop in the previous-generation model.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The flying buttresses help give the car more visual directional thrust than a more conventional hard top.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

A power folding hardtop was a very popular body style with the last-generation Miata, and the RF will likely prove no different.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Pricing has not yet been released for the RF, but expect it to be available largely in upper trim levels, at a cost premium over the current soft top model.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

This Machine Gray paint will likely be a cost option. It's the result of a time-intensive three-coat process including color, reflective and clear coats.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

This new contrasting interior leather looks great.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The Miata's seats are a unique thin-back design to maximize interior space and minimize weight.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

From this view, the RF might as well be a conventional soft-top Miata.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Note the way the exterior paint finish is brought into the interior on the door panels.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

It's always easier to get into a convertible with the top down.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Note the blacked-out portion of the flying buttresses, designed to visually trick the eye into thinking the side window line extends further than it does.

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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The trunk lid raises vertically to swallow the roof.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
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2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The roof mechanism can be actuated on the move, but only just -- 6 mph is the maximum speed.

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