Mazda has added a retractable fastback to its celebrated MX-5 sports car range, designated appropriately and simply ‘RF’.
The fully-automated metal hardtop, which consists of front, middle and rear roofs as well as a glass window panel, fully retracts into the boot. Push button-operated, it can be opened and closed in 13 seconds at speeds of up to 10km/h (provided the operation has started before moving off). Significantly, the whole thing has added less than 50kg to the vehicle weight.
Under the bonnet of both the RF and RF GT specification levels is Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol engine, putting out 118kW of power and 200Nm of torque, with a choice of either a six-speed manual or $2000 optional six-speed auto transmission.
The base model RF boasts 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, MZD Connect – which is also now standard on all grades – and satellite navigation, while the high-grade RF GT comes with either black or tan leather interior trim, powered mirrors, climate control airconditioning and heated seats. A further $1000 secures a GT with black-painted roof and nappa leather interior trim.
With the RF’s introduction, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert have been added as standard across the entire MX-5 range. The RF GT also gets the Adaptive Front-lighting System (LED headlights that swivel up to 15 degrees).
Without the advantage of driving the soft top and RF back-to-back for comparison, we can report that the latter feels as lithe and athletic as we remember the former being. It steers, handles, rides, accelerates and brakes in traditional MX-5 fun-feast fashion, and 0-100km/h times are pretty much a match.
ADR combined cycle fuel economy figures have the RF manual a tad thirstier (6.9 pays 7.0 litres/100km), though we averaged 8.3 on test.
Where there is a difference is NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). With roof lowered, the RF has some wind rustle around the rear pillar. Conversely, with roof up it’s a little quieter inside.
Storage space is 127 litres, just three litres less than the soft-top.
So, which would you buy? It really comes down to how much you might value the extra security and solidity – and, arguably, the better-defined lines – of the RF.
In dollar terms, that amounts to $4060 over the equivalent soft top. Either way, the purity and fun of the drive remains guaranteed.