2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RFThe curious case of the Miata not-coupe.MARCH 2017 BY ALEXANDER STOKLOSA
MARCH 2017 BY ALEXANDER STOKLOSA
VIEW 67 PHOTOS For 28 years, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has adhered to Mazda’s oft-cited jinba-ittai ethos, a Japanese phrase drawn from samurai horse archery that translates to “horse and rider as one.” The purity of connection required to accurately shoot arrows astride a moving animal, as distilled into an automobile, makes for a light, simple, and fantastic sports car. Also, horses don’t have roofs and neither do Miatas, if you’re doing it right.
Mazda has never built a true Miata coupe, the closest examples being a couple of Japan-market fixed-hardtop conversions and the Power Retractable Hardtop (PRHT) introduced on the previous, NC generation. Perhaps the closest yet is the sexpot MX-5 Miata RF we just drove, even if it really is an extension of the PRHT branch of the family tree. To put a finer point on the RF, its closest current analogue just might be the far pricier Porsche 911 Targa, being a demi-convertible with a similarly functioning top mechanism.
Twiddle the console-mounted roof button, and the plastic hoop behind the driver and the pair of sail panels behind lift up and back, while the rear glass and two roof panels (the forward panel is aluminum, the rear one is steel) scissor back into a cubby behind the seats. Then the hoop and sail panels settle back into place. The sequence is very similar to the PRHT’s, mostly because it’s nearly the same, albeit sized to fit the slightly smaller fourth-generation ND Miata and possessed of newer, quieter electric actuators. Of course, the sail panels are a new stylistic flourish, and they give the RF a coupelike appearance from most angles even with the roof stowed. Mazda caps off the visual sleight of hand with black-painted trim panels that resemble quarter-windows behind each door’s glass.
A Tale of Two RFsFor all this, the RF should really stand for “Roof Folds” rather than “Retractable Fastback,” since the entire fastback doesn’t retract and it isn’t really a fastback. However you come down on that distinction, for many the RF will justify its $2755 price premium over the least expensive comparable Miata softtop for its additional year-round capabilities. (The RF isn’t available in the base Sport trim, coming only in sporty Club and luxury-minded Grand Touring spec; GT to GT, the difference is $2555.) The RF is notably quieter inside than the cacophonous roadster, at least with the top raised, thanks to a thick headliner—it reduces headroom by 0.6 inch, according to Mazda—and sound-deadening material added to the top of the transmission tunnel. Nary a squeak or rattle came from the mechanism during our drive, either..Actually lowering the RF’s roof does introduce a problem, however. Whereas the RF is quieter than the roadster with the top up, it is far more raucous in top-down mode. With the rear window and roof panels stowed, air swirls, tornado-like, into the cabin. This is tolerable at what we consider to be ideal Miata road speeds, say, less than 60 mph on a winding back road, and raising the side windows keeps the windstorm isolated to the top of occupants’ heads. But the RF might benefit from a spring-loaded wind deflector that pops up from the windshield or aerodynamic tweaks to the side mirrors to alleviate these traits at higher speeds.Coupe Dreams?So why make the top retract at all? That’s a good question, one that Mazda itself grappled with internally. There was consternation over whether to do another PRHT or to create a proper coupe, with many among Mazda’s ranks opining that a retractable top of some sort is critical to the Miata’s image. They won, and the company believes the RF will garner about half of all Miata sales, as did the PRHT. Plus, the RF looks incredible.
It also fails to dilute the Miata’s jinba-ittai. The roof mechanism adds a claimed 113 pounds to the manual-transmission MX-5’s waifish curb weight, nearly the same penalty exacted by the outgoing PRHT or any Miata with a (small) second passenger or a driver who ate a couple dozen lunches. The extra mass is situated mostly aft of the driver, inching the Miata’s front-to-rear weight balance rearward and even closer to 50/50, according to Mazda.
To ensure that the RF drives and handles as spryly as its softtop counterpart, Mazda retuned the suspension to account for the roof’s extra weight, calibrated the electrically assisted steering for a little more heft, drilled holes in an underbody brace to offset some of the roof’s weight, and even shored up the manual transmission to reduce gear whine. (This is to offset more noticeable road and driveline noise in the RF with its better-insulated roof in place.) Of the RF’s two trim levels, the Club has a firmer suspension tune, plus a limited-slip differential on manual models, while the GT spoils with heated leather seats, adaptive headlights, and automatic climate control. In either version, the Miata’s 155-hp 2.0-liter inline-four is unchanged, and the car remains quick enough. In keeping with other recent Mazdas, the RF’s 4.6-inch digital driver-information display switches to a full-color format; this change, as well as the RF’s steering and transmission improvements, is sure to be ported over to the regular roadster soon.
Amazingly, the RF’s roof and mechanism introduce no fresh compromises to practicality versus the already compromised Miata roadster. The shape of the trunk doesn’t change, the opening is the same size, and volume there shrinks by a paltry 0.1 cubic foot owing to the relocation of the owner’s manual to the trunk. The Miata thus remains capable of (barely) carrying two soft-sided carry-ons, and the cockpit still is tight for anyone over six feet tall. The targa-like hoop does create considerable blind spots, similar to those in the roadster with the top raised, and since it’s always in place you may find yourself relying more heavily on the standard blind-spot monitoring system.
As a more practical, four-season-friendlier version of a sports car we love dearly, the $32,430 RF is a no-brainer, especially if you like looking at pretty things. Surely, a simpler and possibly lighter fixed-roof model would have put the Miata more directly toe-to-toe with the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86twins and not have the RF’s top-down buffeting problem. It also wouldn’t have had as much appeal, as the versatile roof gives the RF a distinction the larger and less expensive BRZ and 86 can’t offer. Plus, if you’re as serious about jinba-ittai as Mazda, you could shoot arrows astride it. - Edmunds review.
|“2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Miata Red Grand TouringWarranty from Mazda. Mint condition. Gently loved. NO mechanical issues no defects. Protected by 3M body Wrap on road hazard areas.” |
| Year: || 2017 || VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): || JM1NDAM71H0100353 |
| Mileage: || 13,505 || Transmission: || Manual |
| Make: || Mazda || Body Type: || Convertible |
| Model: || MX-5 Miata || Warranty: || Vehicle has an existing warranty |
| Trim: || Grand Touring || Vehicle Title: || Clear |
| Engine: || 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT || Options: || USB ports (2), Bose Premium Sound, Bluetooth Streaming/Calling, Privacy Cubbies, Premium Alloy Wheels, Navigation/voice controls, Blind spot Monitoring, Auto dimming Highbeams, Auto Dimming Rear Mirror, Homelink, CD Player, Convertible, Leather Seats |
| Drive Type: || RWD || Safety Features: || Anti-Lock Brakes, Driver Airbag, Passenger Airbag, Side Airbags |
| Power Options: || Air Conditioning, Cruise Control, Power Locks, Power Windows, Power Seats || Sub Model: || RF |
| Fuel Type: || Regular/Premium || Exterior Color: || Red |
| For Sale By: || Private Seller || Interior Color: || Cream |
| Drive Side: || Left-hand drive || Number of Cylinders: || 4 |