MAZDA MX-5 RF
Weighing 1009kg in its most basic form, the MX-5 hurls through corners and feels fast and frantic, even with a relatively modest engine. The folding roof adds to the negative side of the power-toweight ratio, but the difference is barely noticeable. There’s still plenty of zip, seemingly telekinetic steering and a chassis and shortcut wheelbase.
Mazda surprised everyone when it announced that the recent rag-top versions of the RF would start at $31,990 (for the 1.5-litre engine) – a big drop from previous models. You can bet the hard top and its folding bits will add between $4000 and $5000, so a RF will likely cost between $40,000 and $45,000, depending on your specification level. Deliveries will start in February 2017.
There’s precious little room for two humans inside this tiny yet perfectly formed Mazda; even elbow room’s at a premium. On the plus side, the small dimensions help the MX-5 shrink around you, and with the roof up it feels like a sleek, chic coupé – a sensation helped by snazzy red stitching. It doesn’t feel overly expensive, but that’s because it’s not.
This, the fourth generation since launching back in 1989, is a car that’s finally put hairs on the tiny Mazda’s previously androgynous chest. It’s a sharper, shapelier and meaner-looking machine, despite maintaining its almost toy-like dimensions. With its proper coupé styling when the hard-topped roof is up, and an all-new, targa-style fastback look when it’s down, the RF adds a whole new level of appeal.
If you only care about how great you look in an MX-5, and don’t live near steep hills, then you’ll no doubt choose to save money by opting for the base 1.5-litre engine, which makes just 96kw and 150Nm, and will get you to 100km/h when it’s good and ready. The RF will only be offered with the up-spec 2.0-litre four-cylinder, which produces 118kw and 200Nm – something that will come in handy for moving the extra 140kg the new roof structure adds to this featherweight fun box. Expect the 0 to 100km/h time to climb slightly from the softtop’s 7.3-second claim.