Having owned a couple Mazda MX-5’s, I was pretty fascinated by a new version of the iconic sports car unveiled at the New York Auto Show, the Mazda MX-5 RF.
We’ve been waiting for the next hard top MX-5 design. Would it be a lift off hard top? A fixed coupe? Or would Mazda again amaze us with a retractable hard top that fits neatly away without taking up any trunk space like in the last generation.
Well, none of the above is the answer. What they’ve concocted this time is the MX-5 RF, a retractable fastback top. Let that sink in a bit, a retractable fastback top. Watching it do its thing, what quickly becomes clear is that it’s quite different.
In fact, it really is what we auto enthusiasts have always known to be a Targa top, much like that made famous by the Porsche 911. In this case, the difference is that it folds and stows away automatically. But when it’s done, it’s a Targa style roadster.
Now that isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it’s just something different. And in such, it offers a new silhouette to the MX-5 design DNA that brings the fastback GT look that the brand has teased us with for many years.
The side profile is exactly that, the rear view showing a vertical fixed panel instead of raked rear light, that would make it a true fast back. This arrangement while not as sexy I think, still keeps the car’s trunk space in tact.
Mazda says the retractable top can be raised or lowered at the push of a button at speeds up to about 6 mph, which essentially means you need to be stopped for all intents and purposes. How much weight this adds to the MX-5 we don’t yet know.
While I wish this news was coupled with new powertrain offerings, the same 1.5 and 2.0 liter fours will be offered in the MX-5 RF that you have currently available in whatever world market you are in.
One thing that is new with the debut of the RF is the new shade of Machine Grey you see here. Now I’ve never much excited by silvers or greys, but Mazda seems to be pretty wound up about this new paint, telling us how it’s pretty special.
Like their bright shade of Soul Red, the paint uses Mazda’s Takuminuri three-coat paint system to create the color that offers a stark contrast between shadow and light. Given the shapes and creases of the MX-5, the color’s reflective layer really accentuates its design elements more than a flat color can.
Standing back and looking at it, Machine Grey is an improvement over any garden variety shade of silver. The car on the other hand, I’ll have to see it in person to know whether this former MX-5 owner really likes it or not.
The MX-5 RF will come to market as a 2017 model. Exact timing of its arrival here in North America is likely late this year or early next. Pricing hasn’t been announced but count on about a $3,000 increase over the soft top at least.