US Spec 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Walk Around & Test Drive – Video
The market for sports cars has eroded recently, and nearly every two-seat convertible sports machine has taken a big hit — most are down by double-digit sales since 2015. But Mazda’s classic roadster, the Miata, bucked that trend. Last year, Mazda moved nearly 10,000 of the new sports car, making it the best year for Miatas since 2008.
That shouldn’t be a big surprise. Everyone loves the Miata, and that includes us. Back in 2015, we said, “Do you call yourself a driving enthusiast? A car guy? Are you breathing? Then of course you want one.” We still feel that way.
But Mazda wants you to want one even more. “The last retractable hardtop was 50 percent of the Miata sales,” says Dave Coleman, manager vehicle dynamics engineering for Mazda North American Operations. The old hardtop shared the same roofline profile with the soft top. “This time, we decided, if we’re going to do all this work to re-engineer the back half of the car, let’s make it look unique,” Coleman says.
One look at the new MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback) from the rear, with those cool flying buttresses, and it’s clear this is perhaps the best-looking Miata in the sports car’s 28 years. More importantly, the experience of living with a Miata as an everyday driver should be much easier.
In other words, if you were on the fence about buying a Miata, the RF means you’re officially out of excuses.
The retractable fastback is a new take on the hardtop Miata theme. The last Miata with a solid roof became a full convertible at the push of a button, but the RF is essentially a targa: Press the button on the center console and the rear hatch section with those sexy flying buttresses raises and moves slightly rearward. The roof then slides back and disappears into the trunk. The process is mesmerizing to watch and takes just 13 seconds.
If you guessed that a hard roof and the assorted mechanicals adds weight, you would be correct. Mazda says the RF is 113 pounds heavier than the ragtop MX-5. That’s not an insignificant number. However, most of that extra poundage is located over the rear wheels, and because the Miata was such a featherweight to begin with, the RF still weighs less than 2,500 pounds.
The 2.0-liter makes just 155 hp. That’s the same as the roadster, yes, but it’s more than enough to keep you smiling. Even with another 100 pounds of roof to lug around, you won’t yearn for more power unless you decide to take an RF to grudge night at the local drag strip.