New Car Review
When you have a roadster recipe that works in the MX-5 why risk it with a variant that is neither a coupe nor a roadster. Well Mazda think that a Targa top type coupe with clever removable roof sections will bring more buyers to the model. It is for those who want a hardtop feel to their car but with the option of open air driving. The art is to do it without compromise and Mazda appear to have done it in the RF, which stands for Retractable Fastback.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Mazda have added further standard safety equipment to the RF, over the normal MX-5, to include blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The higher specced RF GT also gets the adaptive front lighting system containing LED headlights that swivel up to 15 degrees to illuminate more of a road’s corner.
The MX-5 RF includes 17 inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, Bluetooth, MZD Connect, which is also now standard on all grades, and Satellite Navigation; while the high grade MX-5 RF GT comes with either a black or tan leather interior trim, power mirrors, climate control air conditioning and heated seats. There is also an additional GT option that features a black-painted roof and stylish Nappa leather interior trim.
Mazda say one in ten of MX-5 buyers are under 30 years old, which is good for the brand, but you also need the dexterity of a 30 year old to get in and out of the low slung MX-5. And the metallic Soul red paint colour, that is very popular with Mazda buyers, adorns nearly half of all MX-5s.
DESIGN AND FUNCTION
The exterior design with the roof in place is still very much the MX-5 silhouette albeit a tad taller than the base soft top. However a closer look has the fastback styling cues with what Mazda call a “Flying buttress” roof style used on mid-engine cars. The fully automated hardtop is a marvellous piece of engineering with its choreographed overlapping movements. Made up of four parts including the front, middle and rear roof, as well as a back window glass panel, the 45kg mechanism fully retracts into the boot of the MX-5 with minimal impact to storage space which is Spartan to say the least. The push button operated roof can be opened and closed at driving speeds of up to 10km/h and takes 13 seconds from start to finish and its progress can be monitored via a dash screen image of the roof moving through its various stages. The back window also retracts when the roof is down.
Ergonomic design has been compromised to make the most of the available space and a legacy of this is the awkward location of the cup holders mounted mid-way up the rear panel between the seats making them hard to reach. Also there is no reach adjustment on the steering column.
ON THE ROAD
During the design of the RF, nothing in the way of handling has been lost as its razor sharp and light steering has been preserved. The RF is only available in the 2.0 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC, which is the pick of the engines available; and in keeping with the philosophy of having the correct balance with the right amount of power that the chassis can use, the engineers at Mazda have got that equation just right.
MX-5 means fun driving and the RF has found a happy medium for those who want wind in the hair driving one day and the feel of a closed coupe the next.
Mazda MX-5 RF manual - $ 38,550
Mazda MX-5 RF GT manual - $ 43,890
Mazda MX-5 RF auto manual 6AT - $ 45,890
Mazda MX-5 RF GT $ 44,890
Mazda MX-5 RF 6 speed manual: