► New MX-5 RF revealed at New York
► Name means ‘Retractable Fastback’
► Coupe? Cabrio? Both, says Mazda
Mazda’s designers have tried something a little bit different with the new MX-5 RF, which made its debut at the 2016 New York motor show. It’s the new hard-top version of the latest MX-5 – hence the ‘RF’ label, which stands for ‘retractable fastback.’
The roof design is poles apart from the previous Mk3 Roadster Coupe’s more conventional folding hardtop. This time around the entire roof isn’t stowed; instead the rear buttresses temporarily lift and return to their original position, in the meantime allowing the split-folding targa-style roof panels to sweep themselves into the space behind the rear seats, along with the glass rear screen. An acrylic windbreak helps prevent turbulent air buffeting back into the cabin.
Mazda says the aim is to create a car that looks like a fastback coupe with the roof up, and combines open air driving with a more secure-feeling cabin when it’s down. With an electronically released top-lock, the roof opens and closes at the touch of a switch, provided the car’s travelling at a speed of 6mph or lower.
Apart from the roof, are there any other differences between the MX-5 RF and the soft-top MX5?
Only detail differences. There’s the same choice of petrol engines, a 129bhp 1.5 or a 158bhp 2.0, although exclusive to the MX-5 RF is the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Mazda says the roof design means boot space is the same as the soft top model. While length and width remain unchanged, there is a noticeable 5mm increase in overall height (taller MX-5 fans might keep their fingers crossed that might mean an increase in headroom over the super-snug soft-top).
Read about CAR’s adventures with our 1.5-litre soft-top long-term MX-5
As you’d expect, Mazda promises the cabin is noticeable quieter than the soft-top MX-5, with sound-absorbing headlining on the roof panels and extra sound insulation around the rear wheel housings. In further pursuit of plushness, the interior gets new, softer leather upholstery too.
In accordance with the new roof’s increased weight (Mazda’s keeping conspicuously quiet about specific weight figures – but you can expect a penalty in the region of around 50kg), there are minor adjustments to the suspension and power steering settings for the ride/handling balance.
The Mazda MX-5 RF is on display at the 2016 New York auto show from 25 March.
Read more of CAR’s 2016 New York motor show coverage here
Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 New York motor show