Mazda is raising the bar, or rather the top, in the compact sports car segment with the unveiling of the new MX-5 RF, which stands for ‘Retractable Fastback’, on the eve of the New York Auto Show.
For the second generation of their retractable hardtop model, Mazda chose a very different solution, as whereas the previous PRHT (Power Retractable Hard Top) turned into a fully open roadster, the RF gets an intricate targa top mechanism with a removable middle section and a retractable rear window.
It’s very similar to the system Porsche is using on their latest 911 Targa, as at the touch of a button and in 12 seconds at speeds of up to 6mph or 10km/h, the rear section lifts up and swallows the middle part of the roof, stowing it right behind the rear seats, which is also were the retractable back window slides down. As a result, the MX-5 RF offers the same (limited) luggage space of 130 liters as the soft top roadster model.
With the top in place, the new MX-5 RF looks like a proper coupe model, which is exactly what Mazda designers were aiming for with this generation.
Mazda offers the central roof panel in a contrasting piano black finish or in the same color as the body, while the RF also gets a model-exclusive Machine Grey exterior paint, which it says, is the firm’s first “premium color” that “looks as if it were hand-painted by a master craftsman” using “a three-coat paint structure consisting of color, reflective and clear coats”.
The RF comes with a re-tuned suspension and steering system, and will be offered in Europe with the same 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter powertrains as the soft top MX-5, with North America getting only the larger displacement four-pot paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.
Prices for the new MX-5 RF will be announced closer to launch later this year.