The Miata recipe hasn’t changed much, make it small and light and plenty of smiles to go around. However, the new RF is a bit different, utilizing a mechanical roof system to give the MX-5 a hardtop when needed and open roof when the weather permits.
With the top up, the roofline is a bit taller than the soft top counterpart. But it still has similar lines as the soft top, giving the car a real presence on the road.
At 113lbs one might think the additional weight from the hard top mechanism would ruin the car but honestly, it doesn’t. In fact, it makes it a bit better.
Let me explain, the weight is a disadvantage for sure. With more weight, the car is a bit slower and because the weight is up top it’ll have more body roll as well. But this hardtop adds a lot of structural rigidity and that’s a big plus.
With minimal compromises, this hardtop is very likable. With the top up the little MX-5 is quite like a traditional hardtop. The cabin remains quiet and conversations can be achieved with ease. Though if you were a bit taller headroom is limited.
The top itself is really cool in a geeky way. It’s assembled in four different pieces. The “cover” is part of the rigid sail panels that stays and blocks rear 3/4 visibility. The Top itself is made from a big aluminum piece, a smaller steel section, and the window. All three pieces fold neatly in the cubby behind the driver’s compartment and the roll bar. The best part about the roof is it doesn’t use any more space than the soft top. So trunk volume stays the same.
While the roof is the perfect show-off piece, the mobility of the vehicle limited to 10km/h while the mechanism is operating.
Best Part, no room loss in the process. Okay, maybe a little. They had to put the owner’s manual in the trunk so you loose the space to carry a mid-size book.
Back on track, the interior. It’s compact as one might suspect but I wouldn’t say tight. It’s smaller than the s2000 in terms of size but without a huge tunnel, it feels bigger.
All interior panels are pretty typical Mazda. With soft touch materials and beautiful stitching across the dash, it’s a lovely functional interior.
With an optional Sports Package, these Recaro seats are not only nice to look at but are supportive with ample bolstering. They’re even heated for top down winter driving.
Cup holders can be found in between the seats however with the current position they block the driver’s elbows when reaching the muti-media controls. Clever Mazda engineers have thought of this, so the cup holders are removable. And if you still need to use one, you can relocate one of the cup holders to the right of the shifter.
Also found in the passenger footwell is the 12V plug. Nestled deep under the dash it’s a very awkward place and not something that can commonly be found with ease.
Driving the MX-5 RF is similar to that found in the soft top model. However, with the increased rigidity it feels a bit more stable with the top up. Rowing through the close ratio 6-speed box it’s easy to get a bit carried away as the buzzy engine reaches redline at 6800rpm. With a smooth powertrain and lightweight body, the MX-5 feels truly connected. Its finger-tip precision is finely tuned with great feedback no matter the road condition.
With the top down, the RF is transformed into an open-top cruiser. With an infinite amount of headroom, the cabin can get a bit noisy even with the wind deflector in place.
With 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, the MX-5 was not designed to win any drag races. However, if you do find yourself next to an FRS/BRZ don’t worry the RF is faster even though it’s down on power.
As the old saying goes, “power is nothing without control”. In this little pocket of fun, Brembo brakes quickly slow the MX-5 down. And with the 6-speed Manual, Bilstein dampers are standard keeping the vehicle’s dynamics and composure in check. Also standard is an LSD out back to apply every bit of power to the ground.
Overall the MX-5 will leave the driver smiling, it’s direct handling and light weight chassis pushes the envelope of what new cars can be when the engineers put in a bit of work. The MX-5 has always been a perfect weekend warrior at the autocross but now with the retractable roof, it’s even better on the street. With minimal compromises, the RF is surely a remarkable vehicle no matter the audience. Just pack light and there will be nothing to worry about.
That one time I try to pack in two full-size umbrellas. Didn’t fit had to go in the passenger seat.
These hips don’t lie, but at $40k it better not. Our tester with everything came to $43,000 and it might seem like a lot consider the size of the vehicle but it’s a lot of fun and with everything factored in, it’s kinda worth it.