This Mazda will de­light any driver

Northern Rivers Style - - DRIVE - IAIN CURRY

It is Mazda’s de­light­ful lit­tle MX-5 con­vert­ible play­thing with added at­ti­tude, all thanks to an origami-es­que fold­ing hard­top. This is the Mazda MX-5 RF, which stands for Re­tractable Fast­back, hard­en­ing up, if you will, the iconic road­ster which nor­mally only fea­tures a man­u­ally fold­ing soft top.

The RF makes that lit­tle task eas­ier. Press a but­ton in the cabin and in a smidge over 10 sec­onds the roof clev­erly and smoothly di­vides into sec­tions and tucks it­self be­hind your head­rests with­out en­croach­ing on boot space. Like a Ja­panese zen gar­den, its fold­ing beauty pleases and re­laxes your very soul.

Mazda reck­ons this new model will broaden the ap­peal of the MX-5 to those who typ­i­cally es­chew soft-top con­vert­ibles, but it also brings its own unique fast­back styling to give a dif­fer­ent aes­thetic, has the feel of greater se­cu­rity and in­su­la­tion thanks to a hard top, and, well, it’s quite cool.

In­su­lated from the world with the metal roof in place, it feels just like a nor­mal coupe – safe, se­cure and cos­set­ing.

The RF comes with a 118kw 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gine, which of­fers per­for­mance enough for such a light­weight lit­tle sports car. And rest as­sured the model’s fine bal­ance and han­dling is read­ily avail­able to any­one who seeks out driv­ing thrills on twisty back roads.

And it still looks good value for those seek­ing a style state­ment or week­end play­thing with­out need­ing the space for more than one pas­sen­ger.

The RF costs $38,550 be­fore on-road costs with a six-speed man­ual gear­box (the fun one), or $40,550 if you want an au­to­matic gear­box (the one for the cruis­ers and city dwellers).

If you’re in love with stor­age space the MX-5 RF won’t be for you as there’s no glove box or bins in the doors.

And while boot vol­ume isn’t bad for a fold­ing hard-top car, it’ll still only swal­low a cou­ple of overnight bags.

But you do get some good­ies for your money. There’s classy 17-inch al­loys, a seven-inch screen, air-con, cruise con­trol, Blue­tooth for your phone and in­ter­net ra­dio in­te­gra­tion for the likes of Pan­dora or Spo­tify.

Spend an ex­tra $5340 for a GT edi­tion and you get leather heated seats, a Bose sound sys­tem, key­less en­try and the op­tion of a two-tone re­tractable roof.

There re­ally is lit­tle else on the mar­ket quite like the MX-5 RF for the money. And you could spend a lot more cash on some­thing dif­fer­ent and never get the pure joy and smiles this de­light­ful lit­tle car of­fers.

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