When Mazda promised to "blow the roof off" of the 2016 New York Auto Show, we thought it'd be bringing a new variant of the MX-5 Miata. Of course, the last thing we expected was the new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, an MX-5 with even more roof than before.
The RF in the name stands for 'retractable fastback', indicating the model's fastback coupe profile with a retractable targa-like panel. Push a button and the rear clamshell of the sloping roofline lifts up and a central panel retracts into the body, taking the rear backlight glass with it. It's a mechanical ballet that's not unlike that of the Porsche 911 Targa. In this case, retraction and deployment take about 12 seconds. The retractable portion slips into the same tub behind the seats as the soft top's fabric panels, which means the RF loses no trunk space when its top is down.
When compared to the MX-5 Miata, the MX-5 RF is said to weigh about 50 kg (110 pounds) more. The new model is also said to use slightly stiffer springs and retuned steering to compensate for the slight increase in mass, but Mazda's representatives assure me that the MX-5's handling prowess survives intact. Under the hood, the 155 horsepower, 2-liter Skyactiv engine also persists unmolested.
I'm usually not a fan of automated targa tops -- I personally find them a bit overly complex for my liking -- but I'm absolutely loving this new look. The MX-5 RF boasts a much nicer profile than the old MX-5 PRHT, which looked a bit dorky with its top up.
Mazda says that it's courting drivers who are interested in the driving characteristics that have made the Miata a legend, but are looking for a "more upscale option" than a ragtop.
The automaker states that it will be taking pre-orders on the 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF starting this summer, with the first models being delivered later this year. Pricing has not yet been announced.