Got my first chance to drive the RF recently – not as far as I would have liked, but far enough to get a feel for what it’s all about. It’s an intriguing machine for many reasons, but most of all for the way that it divides opinion within the MX-5 community. I have a lot of sympathy with the widely held notion that the whole point of an MX-5 is that it’s an open-top car, yet I also appreciate the benefits of enjoying a machine that handles just like an MX-5 but can be parked in a city overnight without the fear of someone sticking a knife through the hood.
After a journey to and from the Lake District, Alison, Total MX-5’ s art director, expressed the same complaint about wind noise and buffeting as others have done when the roof is stowed. It didn’t trouble me in the slightest. Which may be because my mk1 doesn’t have a windblocker, so I’m used to a cacophonous hurricane bombarding the cabin. Roof off in the RF I dropped the windows, too, for the full wind-blown effect, and felt comfortable enough driving around like that even on the motorway. And with the windows down it is like being in the roadster, as you can’t see the targa hoop above you and, because the small rear screen lowers, too, there’s open air behind your head.
And it looks great. Most modern cars don’t inspire pedestrians to come knock on your window when you’re parked in the high street, just to say how much they like it: the RF breaks through normal inhibitions. Plus, a couple of MX-5 roadster fans praised it for looking better in the metal than it does in pictures. Another said he now understands why the back end of the mk4 soft-top is styled the way it is, to accommodate the lines of the fastback. But some young lads from the local hockey club asked why I’d turned up in my wife’s car: cheeky buggers!
Would I like to own one? Sure would. Do I prefer it to the roadster? In common with several others, I’m still mulling the answer to that one…
Brett Fraser, editor email@example.com