I liked the new MX-5 a lot. So much in fact that I chose it as my car of the year for 2015. It’s also been awards the 2016 World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year. You can read my review of it here. I liked the simplicity of it and what it stood for; no nonsense approach to sports car fun. It’s proof that you don’t need seventy million horsepower and quad-turbos to have fun in a car. The balance, the controls, and the affordability as well as the ability to drop the roof in a matter of seconds won me over instantly.

But now Mazda have added a new variant to the MX-5 range – the RF, or Retractable Fastback. The previous generation ‘NC’ MX-5 was also available with a folding hardtop, called RHT. But the RF differs as it comes with a Porsche 911 Targa-style folding roof. Yes, this is pretty much a MX-5 Targa. Do form an orderly queue at your Mazda dealer.

Mazda-MX5-RF-1

Just look at it. For years I’ve been hoping someone would make an affordable targa sports car again like they had in the 90s. Remember the MR-2, CR-X del sol, 300ZX, and Supra Targas? If you do then you should be excited about the MX-5 RF because it comes with all the right styling details.

There are ‘buttresses’ at the rear, only the ‘middle’ part of the roof disappears with the rear window, and the c-pillars remain in tact for added rigidity. The roof is still stowed behind the rear seats, the same as the standard soft top which means luggage space remains the same at 130L. The roof will be able to open and close at speeds of up to 10 km/h. Not a lot but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

Mazda-MX5-RF-5

Weirdly, Mazda hasn’t mentioned how much extra weight the electric folding hardtop roof mechanism has added to the 1020kg MX-5, but it shouldn’t be too much. The RF will still be powered by with a 131bhp/96kW 1.5 SkyActiv G or by a 160bhp/118kW 2.0 SkyActiv G engine.

The RF aims to add usability, comfort, and refinement to the MX-5. Purists will still probably want to opt for the lighter and simpler soft top but the RF will still find many fans. Mazda are fully away of the difference between the RF and its soft top counterpart. For example they’ve tuned the suspension for a smoother ride, there’s more sound deadening, and a new 6-speed auto option.

Mazda-MX5-RF-7

Regardless, I have no doubt it’ll still be more fun than sports cars costing more and is the most affordable way to have a targa sports car this side of a quarter-of-a-million dollar 911 Targa. The MX-5 RF is due to go on sale in 2017.

What are your thoughts of the MX-5 RF? Do you like that they’ve gone for a targa design or did you prefer the old car’s traditional folding hardtop? Or would you rather Mazda did a ‘proper’ fixed roof coupe instead?

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