ACURA Sport Car | Mazda MX-5 Miata RF 2017


The curious instance of the Miata not-coupe
For 28 years, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has adhered to Mazda’s oft-cited jinba-ittai ethos, a Japanese phrase drawn from samurai Equus caballus archery that translates to “horse together with rider every bit one.” The purity of connecter required to accurately shoot arrows astride a moving animal, every bit distilled into an automobile, makes for a light, simple, together with fantastic sports car. Also, horses don’t accept roofs together with neither practise Miatas, if you’re doing it right.
Mazda has never built a truthful Miata coupe, the closest examples existence a twain of Japan-market fixed-hardtop conversions together with the Power Retractable Hardtop (PRHT) introduced on the previous, NC generation. Perhaps the closest yet is the sexpot MX-5 Miata RF we but drove, fifty-fifty if it actually is an extension of the PRHT branch of the household unit of measurement tree. To set a finer indicate on the RF, its closest electrical flow analogue but powerfulness be the far pricier Porsche 911 Targa, existence a demi-convertible amongst a similarly functioning top mechanism.


Twiddle the console-mounted roof button, together with the plastic hoop behind the driver together with the pair of sheet panels behind elevator upwards together with back, piece the bring upwards drinking glass together with 2 roof panels (the frontwards panel is aluminum, the bring upwards ane is steel) scissor dorsum into a cubby behind the seats. Then the hoop together with sheet panels settle dorsum into place. The sequence is rattling similar to the PRHT’s, by together with large because it’s nearly the same, albeit sized to jibe the slightly smaller fourth-generation ND Miata together with possessed of newer, quieter electrical actuators. Of course, the sheet panels are a novel stylistic flourish, together with they give the RF a coupelike appearance from most angles fifty-fifty amongst the roof stowed. Mazda caps off the visual sleight of manus amongst black-painted trim panels that resemble quarter-windows behind each door’s glass.

A Tale of Two RFs


For all this, the RF should actually correspond “Roof Folds” rather than “Retractable Fastback,” since the entire fastback doesn’t retract together with it isn’t actually a fastback. However y'all come upwards downwards on that distinction, for many the RF volition justify its $2755 toll premium over the to the lowest degree expensive comparable Miata softtop for its additional year-round capabilities. (The RF isn’t available inwards the base of operations Sport trim, coming solely inwards sporty Club together with luxury-minded Grand Touring spec; GT to GT, the departure is $2555.) The RF is notably quieter within than the cacophonous roadster, at to the lowest degree amongst the top raised, thank y'all to a thick headliner—it reduces headroom yesteryear 0.6 inch, according to Mazda—and sound-deadening fabric added to the top of the transmission tunnel. Nary a squeak or rattle came from the machinery during our drive, either.


Actually lowering the RF’s roof does innovate a problem, however. Whereas the RF is quieter than the roadster amongst the top up, it is far to a greater extent than raucous inwards top-down mode. With the bring upwards window together with roof panels stowed, air swirls, tornado-like, into the cabin. This is tolerable at what nosotros reckon to live ideal Miata route speeds, say, less than lx mph on a winding dorsum road, together with raising the side windows keeps the windstorm isolated to the top of occupants’ heads. But the RF powerfulness practise goodness from a spring-loaded air current deflector that pops upwards from the windshield or aerodynamic tweaks to the side mirrors to alleviate these traits at higher speeds.

Coupe Dreams?


So why brand the top retract at all? That’s a skillful question, ane that Mazda itself grappled amongst internally. There was consternation over whether to practise some other PRHT or to create a proper coupe, amongst many amid Mazda’s ranks opining that a retractable top of some form is critical to the Miata’s image. They won, together with the companionship believes the RF volition garner nigh one-half of all Miata sales, every bit did the PRHT. Plus, the RF looks incredible.


It besides fails to dilute the Miata’s jinba-ittai. The roof machinery adds a claimed 113 pounds to the manual-transmission MX-5’s waifish curb weight, nearly the same punishment exacted yesteryear the outgoing PRHT or whatsoever Miata amongst a (small) instant rider or a driver who ate a twain dozen lunches. The extra volume is situated by together with large aft of the driver, inching the Miata’s front-to-rear weight residual rearward together with fifty-fifty closer to 50/50, according to Mazda.
To ensure that the RF drives together with handles every bit spryly every bit its softtop counterpart, Mazda retuned the interruption to concern human relationship for the roof’s extra weight, calibrated the electrically assisted steering for a piddling to a greater extent than heft, drilled holes inwards an underbody brace to offset some of the roof’s weight, together with fifty-fifty shored upwards the manual transmission to cut gear whine. (This is to offset to a greater extent than noticeable route together with driveline dissonance inwards the RF amongst its better-insulated roof inwards place.) Of the RF’s 2 trim levels, the Club has a firmer interruption tune, plus a limited-slip differential on manual models, piece the GT spoils amongst heated leather seats, adaptive headlights, together with automatic climate control. In either version, the Miata’s 155-hp 2.0-liter inline-four is unchanged, together with the machine remains quick enough. In keeping amongst other recent Mazdas, the RF’s 4.6-inch digital driver-information display switches to a full-color format; this change, every bit good every bit the RF’s steering together with transmission improvements, is certain to live ported over to the regular roadster soon.


Amazingly, the RF’s roof together with machinery innovate no fresh compromises to practicality versus the already compromised Miata roadster. The shape of the body doesn’t change, the opening is the same size, together with book at that topographic point shrinks yesteryear a paltry 0.1 cubic pes owing to the relocation of the owner’s manual to the trunk. The Miata thence remains capable of (barely) carrying 2 soft-sided carry-ons, together with the cockpit silent is tight for anyone over vi feet tall. The targa-like hoop does create considerable blind spots, similar to those inwards the roadster amongst the top raised, together with since it’s ever inwards house y'all may uncovering yourself relying to a greater extent than heavily on the touchstone blind-spot monitoring system.
As a to a greater extent than practical, four-season-friendlier version of a sports machine nosotros love dearly, the $32,430 RF is a no-brainer, peculiarly if y'all similar looking at pretty things. Surely, a simpler together with perhaps lighter fixed-roof model would accept set the Miata to a greater extent than straight toe-to-toe amongst the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins together with non accept the RF’s top-down buffeting problem. It besides wouldn’t accept had every bit much appeal, every bit the versatile roof gives the RF a distinction the larger together with less expensive BRZ together with 86 can’t offer. Plus, if you’re every bit serious about jinba-ittai as Mazda, y'all could shoot arrows astride it.



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