MX-5 hardens up

Stunning new coupe style revealed

TOBY HAGON

IT’S all about the roof with the newest member of the MX-5 family, known as the RF (for Retractable Fastback).

Revealed at the New York motor show, the Mazda MX-5 RF puts the emphasis on design with a more distinctive teardrop profile to its coupe-like roof.

“The retractable fastback represents a new type of MX-5 that aims to be a compact sports car with a natural charm that anybody and everybody will find beautiful,” said chief designer Masashi Nakayama.

This is the second MX-5 with a folding hardtop and maintains the latest model’s clever thinking, with a roof that folds in just 12 seconds, making it the fastestfolding hardtop on sale. Now it fastes folding stw can be retracted on the run, too, albeit only at up to 10km/h.

Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak says the RF opens up the MX-5 to a “wider range of sports car buyers”, with the added security of a fixed roof making it appealing to people who park on the street.

However, he refuses to name the most obvious rivals – the 2012 Wheels COTY-winning Toyota 86 and its Subaru BRZ twin – as competitors. “We won’t target any specific rivals, we’ll just sell the message of MX-5 and MX-5 RF; it’s just an extension to the range,” he said.

The folding roof is fully electric, with a new locking function that eliminates the need to manually latch the final piece of the roof in i y place, as was the case with the previous model.

Also like the NC-series MX-5, boot and interior space are undiminished by the retracting hardtop of the ND MX-5 RF, which has a 130-litre boot capacity.

Length and width are unchanged, but the RF’s roof is 5mm higher than that of the soft-top version.

It’s not all good news, though; the MX-5 RF is about 50kg heavier than the acclaimed soft-top roadster. While that may not sound like much, it represents a gain of about five percent.

When it arrives in early 2017, the RF will carry a $4000 premium over the roadster and will only be available with the bigger 2.0-litre engine.

We picked it!

Last year Wheels revealed what was then a top-secret plan to folding hardtop into a targast expect ing a regular folding hardtop along the lines of that employed on the previous NC model. Okay, we didn’t quite get the sloping coupe-like pillar treatment right in our com-gen, but the detai ls of the MX-5’s newfound maturity were bang on. evolve t he MX-5’s plain-Jane yle roof. The world was gn.