The canyon-carving icon gets a retractable hardtop

Mazda got the drop on the 2016 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) with the launch of a new addition to the MX-5 family. It’s called the MX-5 RF, with the last two letters alluding to the “retractable fastback” roof that replaces the old ragtop. While the fourth-generation MX-5 is undoubtedly a significant aesthetic upgrade over the old model, the new RF is simply gorgeous. The design visually moves the cabin towards the tail, emphasizing the rear haunches and giving the whole package a superb sense of balance and poise. Complementing the new look is the availability of a new premium color – Machine Grey. Something tells me the days of explaining handling dynamics and tossability to non-enthusiasts is over…

Speaking of which, the RF promises to be every bit of fun behind the wheel as the standard model, although Mazda has yet to reveal how much the retractable roof mechanism adds to the original’s feathery curb weight. U.S. customers get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, while a 1.5-liter powerplant is offered elsewhere. Routing the power is a six-speed manual gearbox, or alternatively, a six-speed automatic. Inside, expect the same driver-centric control layout.

The 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF will be on display at the Mazda booth throughout the duration of NYIAS. Customers are invited to place pre-orders later this summer, with deliveries expected sometime thereafter.


Mazda revealed the Mazda MX-5 RF (“retractable fastback”) today on the eve of the New York International Auto Show. The latest version of the legendary sports car offers a new dimension of open-top driving fun while at the same time staying true to the purpose of Mazda’s previous retractable hardtop MX-5: Making the roadster experience accessible to a broader range of drivers.

In doing so, Mazda has broken with conventional thinking to create something entirely new. Featuring fastback styling with a smooth roofline that slopes down to the rear, the MX-5 RF’s unique rear roof and retractable back window deliver a distinctive new convertible feeling.

The power roof opens and closes with the press of a button while moving at speeds of up to 10km/h. The roof itself stows away compactly and efficiently: Despite the sleek design, the MX-5 RF offers the same boot space as the soft-top model. Also like the soft-top, the new version will be available in Europe with a choice of two revvy petrol engines – the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 and SKYACTIV-G 2.0 – mated either to a delightfully crisp shifting six-speed SKYACTIV-MT gearbox or – exclusively for the MX-5 RF – a six-speed automatic.

Another highlight of the MX-5 RF is the selection of body colours. They include Machine Grey, a new premium colour specially designed to accentuate the subtle yet dynamic surfaces of Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion exteriors. Developed in the belief that colour is one of the elements of form, Machine Grey expresses the beauty of a machine’s strength and precision. By intensifying the contrast between light and shadow with a sleek, high-density finish, it gives the impression that the vehicle’s body was sculpted from a solid block of steel.

Paint application is crucial here. Mazda progressed its Takuminuri painting technology originally created for Soul Red, Mazda’s first premium colour, to achieve a precise, high-quality finish that looks as if it were hand-painted by a master craftsman. The system uses a three-coat paint structure consisting of colour, reflective and clear coats. The reflective layer, which contains extremely thin, high-brightness aluminium flakes, shrinks during the drying process to about one-quarter the thickness of most reflective layers. This causes the flakes to lie flat with regular spacing between each flake for a high-density finish that gives the entire surface a sheen when illuminated and a genuine metallic look. Jet black pigment, meanwhile, is used in both the reflective and colour layers. It is visible through the spaces between the aluminium flakes, giving them a black hue and thus heightening the contrast. Machine Grey will be available on a range of Mazda models, including the all-new Mazda CX-9 slated to go on sale in North America this spring.

The MX-5 RF is on display at the New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public from 25 March to 3 April.

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