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Mazda MX-5 RF


A different take on a winning formula

We picked up the MX-5 from Exeter airport, in what could be called a dull and dreary day in February, not ideal for driving an open-top two-seater sports car or at least that’s we thought initially.

I drove with a tall chap and he did struggle to get into the car, not ideal for him and he looked a little uncomfortable behind the wheel, I’m a bit shorter so I didn’t feel crunched up in the cabin, in fact I felt relaxed and could stretch out, unlike him.

2017-MX5-RF-front.jpgAfter just a few miles, the sun began to pop out from behind the clouds and we felt that it was time to open the roof. At the press of a button, the mechanics of the powered roof swung into action and in just a few seconds, the car transformed into an open top sports car. However, an open top sports car with a difference: through some very clever moving mechanical parts the top part of the roof tucks behind the seats.

The first car we drove was powered by a 1.5-litre 131ps petrol engine that just about had enough power, although you needed to change gear quite a lot to keep it going and try not to lose momentum. It was a nice sweet engine, but at some points of the journey just didn’t seem to have enough oomph.

We kept putting the roof up and down, or probably more technically known as sliding the roof on and off. As we watched it more and more, it became evident that it was a clever design and an even cleverer piece of engineering. There are some fairly hefty cogs and gears that operate the roof and the chance of it going wrong, or packing up looked unlikely as the mechanicals involved looked solid and would stand the test of time.

After standing watching it go up and down, and down and up, then up and down again, numerous times, we were convinced Mazda had created a mechanical masterpiece. So back in the car, and off we set across the Devon Moors, roof down, the sun out, and the wind in our hair, well, actually, not much wind, as the design seemed to keep the windy stuff out of the cabin, and I got out at the afternoon tea and clotted cream stop looking just as wind-blown as I normally do – no difference whatsoever, despite the fact I had travelled over 50 miles in an open top car, my hair was just as out of place as it normally is.

2017-MX5-RF-interior.jpgRF means Retractable Fastback, and that just about sums it up, the roof is Retractable and it does look like a Fastback, and I guess lots of people spent many days and weeks coming up with the most obvious name, and then even more time deciding on abbreviating it.

After the tea and buns, we swopped into a 2.0-litre 160ps petrol, and from the minute you got in it, it felt so much better than the 1.5, and as we drove it more during the afternoon it just got better and better and this car was carrying more weight too, sandwiches with the crusts cut off, two cups of tea, scones and clotted cream. You could leave it in 5th or 6th gear, and it would pull away with ease, even going up some of the hills over them-there moors. Such a pleasant engine, quiet and refined. The 2.0 would be my choice, it costs around £900 more than the 1.5, well worth the extra money in my opinion.

The RF does look a pretty and attractive sports car, and very different to anything else out there, despite it looking very modern, it also has a very retro look to it. There will be many traditional MX-5 owners and admirers who will be horrified that Mazda have dared to turn this iconic sports car into ‘something-new’, some wont sleep with worry at this invention. But it will appeal to other buyers who want an open top, affordable sports car, but want the additional advantages of security, convenience and the fact it doesn’t have a cloth-top – bit of a win-win for Mazda.

2017-MX5-RF-rear.jpgIf you compare a very similar traditional cloth-top MX-5 with the RF, then you are paying around £2,000 more, some might think this is expensive, but you do get the advantages of the hard-top, and all those hard-wearing cogs and heavy-weight gears.

After a couple of hours with the roof down, it started to get a bit cold, so the button was pushed, and then we were nice and cosy in a hard-top sports, turned up the heater and we were warm again in seconds, nice….

Prices start from £22,195.00 OTR and go up to £28,995.00 OTR for the Launch Edition. The one I would go for is the 2.0-litre 160ps Sport Nav that costs £25,695.00 OTR and has just about everything you need, an auto is available on this model at an additional cost of £1285.00.

The MX-5 RF, like the MX-5 is so much fun to drive, it makes you smile and for not a lot of money. We had a great day in Devon, fantastic roads, great scenery and a great sports car that was a sheer pleasure to drive.

Summary stats

  • On the road price £22,295.00 to £27,295.00
  • Petrol: 1.5 131 PS and 2.0 160 PS
  • CO2 142 to 167g/km
  • Combined MPG 39.2 to 46.3
  • Gearboxes 6 Speed Manual, 6 Speed Automatic

    New options and features:
  • Lane departure warning system – Standard on Sport
  • Rear parking sensor – Standard on Sport
  • 7" touchscreen with multimedia commander – Standard on all
  • Satellite navigation system – Standard on all
  • Bose Premium Audio system – Standard on Sport
Martin Ward

A popular figure in the automotive industry, celebrated in the Business Car Power list Top 10. An unrivalled understanding of the entire automotive manufacturing process. Providing independent and tailored advice to help automotive and related businesses identify and achieve their goals. @MartinW_cap_hpi

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