2017 Mazda MX-5 RF: Driving pleasure all year round

    Posted by Wheels On Edge about 6 months ago
    The Mazda MX-5 (formerly Miata) is the best-selling sports car in the world. But only the most dedicated drivers will use theirs 365 days a year. For many, the thought of using a soft top convertible in winter just doesn’t compute. But worry no more – the MX-5 RF will let you do just that with its retractable hardtop. 

    A power folding roof isn’t completely new for Mazda. The previous generation (NC) model was available with a retractable hardtop. But from a visual standpoint, the car still looked like a convertible. Mazda wanted the RF to be different from its standard MX-5 counterpart. Whether the roof is up or down, the prominent buttresses behind the seats give the car a true fastback look. RF, by the way, stands for Retractable Fastback. It’s easier to think of the RF as more of a targa top rather than a convertible. As beautiful as those buttresses are, they have one major drawback -- a massive blind spot from the driver’s seat. Thankfully there is an integrated blind spot monitor in the mirrors. 

    Stylistically, the RF may be a far cry from the cute Miata we first met in 1989, but it retains its heritage of fun, connected driving. The power roof adds about 55 kilograms to the total weight (figure changes with transmission and options) but you’ll never feel that extra bulk. The RF can still carve its way around tight corners and winding roads with ease. The electric steering is light at times, but direct, fast and predictable. The suspension, featuring bilstein shock absorbers, can be harsher on rougher roads but absolutely shines otherwise. The tight handling paired with a slick 6-speed manual transmission makes for some of the most fun you can have on four wheels. But for those who want to enjoy the car without worrying about a clutch pedal, an automatic transmission is a no-cost option.

    The level wind noise isn’t unbearable

    While the MX-5 has always been about top-down motoring, the power roof is the party trick of the RF. With the roof up, the cabin becomes significantly quieter, but at highway speeds, there is still a noticeable level of wind noise. However, even with the top down, the level wind noise isn’t unbearable. It is still possible to carry a conversation with your passenger. Perhaps you might talk about the headroom – or lack thereof – for taller occupants. Or how the cup-holders almost feel like an afterthought. But chances are you’ll be having too much fun to care. The roof can be opened or closed in about 13 seconds and can be done in motion, as long as the car is going at a speed of 10 km/h or slower. 

    The MX-F RF isn’t the most practical car. It has very little interior storage space and a trunk just barely big enough for a small suitcase. And at a starting price of $38,800, it’s can be a tough pill to swallow. But it’s hard not to fall in love with it once you get behind the wheel. The RF was engineered for driving pleasure above all else and it delivers that in droves. It’s not the most powerful or practical car, but with its folding hardtop, you could use the RF all year, no matter what mother nature throws at you. 

    Written by Shane Kalicharan
    Photos: Kevin Wylie

    Tags:
    2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, Convertible, performance, topless, hard top

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