2017 MAZDA MX-5 MIATA CLUB RF
You’d be hard-pressed to find a ton of fans of the clunky, Power Retractable Hard Top version of the previous-generation MX-5. So Mazda went back to the lab and came up with a whole new formula for its Mazda MX-5
RF, developing a trick power retractable targa top à la the Porsche 911 Targa.
Gone is the regular Miata roadster’s simple manual cloth roof, which can be deployed and retracted with one arm in a matter of seconds. In its place is a new and fairly complex power roof that stows the metal center section under a sculpted set of buttresses framing the trunklid. These changes add up to a car that’s quite the looker— depending on whom you ask. Some editors enjoyed the RF’s solidified silhouette, but others weren’t fans of its protruding rear proportions.
“The softtop version of the latest Miata isn’t pretty, but this
Retractable Folding Top Doesn’t Dilute the Fun
RF makes that car look great,” Noordeloos complained. Then again, countered Floyd, “I’m not sure what Noordeloos is smoking, because I think the RF is dynamite-looking, top up or down.”
Fortunately, the Miata’s legendarily engaging driving experience is nearly unchanged over the roadster. The RF still displays the roadster’s pronounced and predictable body roll, but thanks to a slightly revised suspension and retuned steering, it’s a little more dialed in than its softtop sibling. We’d still want to stiffen it up some if we owned one, however.
Negative design critique aside, Noordeloos was duly impressed after a stint behind the wheel at Speedvegas. “Great fun around the track’” he noted. “Rotates nicely and is a great beginner car for those wanting to understand rearwheel drive.” So it’s still a great drive, but the argument can be made that the RF’s top adds too much complexity and weight to the Miata’s base formula. — Conner Golden
PRICE: $32,430/$36,215 (base/as tested) ENGINE:
2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4/155 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual LAYOUT:
2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible
26/33 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H:
154.1 x 68.3 x 49.0 in WHEELBASE:
6.4 sec (est)