Take the whole lot that is good in regards to the playful and enjoyable fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, add a splash of poise, a wholesome dose refinement and you have the brand new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF. The roadster’s second act replaces the guide, comfortable convertible roof with a motorized, partially retractable exhausting high, gaining a brand new beautiful, curvaceous new silhouette within the course of.
The brand new “retractable fastback” is the place the MX-5 RF will get its title. The brand new high is a light-weight bit of kit as motorized exhausting convertible tops go — because of its mixture of aluminum and composite bits — however nonetheless provides about 113 kilos to the MX-5’s bantamweight. Apparently, the RF’s roof additionally provides about 5mm to the MX-5’s general top however loses about 15mm of headroom beneath the hardtop. The decrease ceiling wasn’t a problem for my 5′ 9″ body, however taller drivers or these desirous to put on a helmet on the racetrack ought to pay shut consideration.
For the difficulty, the RF good points a little bit of refinement. Its cabin is noticeably quieter at freeway speeds and within the rain thanks the RF’s sound-absorbing headliner absorbing a lot of the wind noise. Extra sound dampening on the transmission tunnel helps scale back street and drivetrain noise as nicely. The RF boasts a bit extra safety when parked because of its exhausting roof. Maybe most significantly, the RF’s slick fastback profile simply appears to be like unbelievable, sweeping from the A-pillar nearly all the way in which to the sting of the rear decklid in a single easy curve. Prime up, I believe this is among the best-looking automobiles that Mazda’s ever constructed.
Flip a toggle within the cabin and the fastback raises, permitting the roof panels and the rear glass to fold and tuck right into a nicely behind the passenger compartment. Although the looks may be very completely different, the mechanisms working behind the scenes are just like the previous-generation, solely the parts are a bit smaller and transfer extra quietly. This era’s hardtop can even function at speeds as much as 6 mph.
After a little bit over 13 seconds, the RF’s roof completes its motorized gymnastics, ending up in an quasi-convertible Targa configuration with the rear portion of the roof nonetheless in place. Just like the roadster, the RF’s roof would not intrude with trunk or cupboard space when stowed, however the general cargo quantity is about three liters in need of the ragtop’s boot.
Although the RF is better-looking with the roof closed, I am the type of roadster fan that prefers my high to go all the way in which down when stowed, so I am not the most important fan of this open-air configuration. I can even drop the guide comfortable high in about three seconds, which is a lot quicker than the RF’s nonetheless admirable 13 second motorized operation. The RF’s blind spots are considerably bigger than the roadster, high up or high down. And whereas the hardtop is quieter than the material roof on the freeway when closed, it is louder in the identical circumstances when open because of the manner the wind generally buffets in opposition to the raised roof hoop.
Playful efficiency persists
Except for the roof, the MX-5 Miata RF adjustments little or no in regards to the MX-5 Miata’s method. Beneath the hood is identical 2.Zero-liter SkyActiv-G engine sending the identical 155 horsepower and 148 pound toes of torque to the rear wheels. Even gasoline financial system is equivalent at a 29 mpg mixed estimate.
Drivers get a selection between both sporty Membership or feature-laden Grand Touring trim ranges with both a 6-speed guide transmission or a 6-speed automated. Selected the guide Membership and the RF upgrades to a rear limited-slip differential, which boosts cornering grip throughout enthusiastic driving. The Miata’s entry-level Sport trim degree cannot be had with the RF’s exhausting high.
Regardless of the additional mass, acceleration feels as peppy right here because it did within the lighter ragtop. The low curb weight and meaty midrange torque curve conspire to make the brand new RF really feel as responsive as earlier than. The engine is raring to please and swings the tachometer needle like a contented pet. The MX-5 RF’s is not a driving expertise that is constructed round overwhelming energy. Slightly, it rewards the driving force who embraces the nimble dealing with, makes sensible gear decisions and conserves their velocity and inertia by means of the twisty bits. The Miata desires you to hold velocity by means of the flip, not simply pile it on after the apex.
Talking of dealing with, the RF’s suspension has been barely retuned, each to compensate for the additional weight of the exhausting high and so as to add a little bit of refinement to the car’s dealing with. There are new rear suspension bushings and the rear bump stops that assist easy out the transition to oversteer, which ought to make the RF extra predictable, however nonetheless enjoyable, close to its dealing with limits. In the meantime, the steering has been tweaked and barely re-weighted to really feel sportier when tucking right into a nook, however much less fatiguing when commuting. However a lot of the adjustments can solely actually be felt close to the boundaries of the MX-5’s dealing with. Odds are good that almost all drivers will not even discover a distinction with out cautious consideration of back-to-back drives within the RF and the Miata. That is good, as a result of the MX-5 Miata’s playful and agile efficiency is already simply so near perfection.