New York Auto Show: Mazda MX-5 RF gains fancy metal roof

The letters RF – for Retractable Fastback – signal the answer for those wanting a Mazda MX-5 that offers open-air motoring, coupe-style looks, and the greater security of a hardtop roof.

Mazda MX 5 Rear Jpg
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Mazda’s new variant of the 2016 Wheels Car of the Year MX-5 soft-top roadster is being shown at this week’s New York motor show, revealing a different approach to the previous retractable-hardtop version. 

Where the previous, third-generation MX-5 featured a conventional folding metal roof, the RF stows only the middle roof section – with the rear section first lifting as part of the operation before returning to create a look similar to that of sports cars such as the Porsche 911 Targa. 

Mazda MX-5 Front
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The set-up includes retractable rear glass to enhance the open-air driving experience, while the roof can be opened or closed at the press of a button up to a driving speed of 10km/h. 

Mazda says the RF has the same 130-litre boot space as the Roadster despite the more sophisticated roof system, which will open or close in about 12 seconds – making it potentially the fastest-operating automated roof systems in the world. 

Mazda MX-5 rear
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The Japanese brand told WhichCar the three-piece metal roof shouldn’t add too much weight and therefore have minimal effect on performance. 

The Mazda MX-5 RF will be offered in Australia with only the bigger, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and the choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, when it arrives in early 2017. 

The Roadster includes the choice of a smaller, less powerful 1.5-litre engine. 

Mazda MX-5 side
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Expect the RF to carry a premium of a few thousand dollars over the 2.0L Mazda MX-5 Roadster that costs from $34,490 – meaning a starting price not far below $40K. 

The only exterior dimension to change for the RF is a 5mm increase in height, which could be welcome news for taller drivers who find the Roadster’s headroom a touch too tight with the fabric roof in place. 

Mazda MX-5
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The roof liner also features increased sound absorption as part of moves to give the RF greater sound insulation. 

Globally, Mazda expects the soft-top and hard-top to split MX-5 sales 50/50.

Mazda MX-5 roof down
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Click here to read the full review on the Mazda MX-5 range.

 

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Jez Spinks
Journalist

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