New Mazda MX-5 RF hard top raises the roof in New York

Mazda looks to have has stolen the 2016 New York Motor Show with a stunning new Targa-roofed version of its MX-5 convertible, called the Mazda MX-5 RF or the Mazda Miata RF if you’re an American.

The RF (the name stands for Retractable Fastback) follows the folding hardtop version, which accounted for up to half of all MX-5s sold by the time the Mk3 edition of the car was phased out in 2014. However, it takes a more radical approach than its predecessor, with a complex mechanism that’s similar in principle to the set-up used by Porsche on the latest 911 Targa. 

Mazda MX-5 RF – front show

Mazda’s designers have created new bodywork which joins the central roof panel to the boot deck, giving the RF different side and rear profiles to the regular car. A switch on the dashboard operates electric motors which lift a section of rear bodywork up as a single piece, allowing the car to tuck away the central roof section. The process is said to take around 12 seconds, and it can happen at speeds of up to 6mph.

Despite the intricate construction, boot capacity remains the same as the regular MX-5’s, at 130 litres. The rear glass can also be lowered with the roof in place, allowing more air into the cabin in conditions where a fully opened top would not be desirable.

Mazda MX-5 RF – rear

Mazda says the central roof panel can be offered in a contrast piano-black finish, as well as in the body colour – but this hasn’t been confirmed for the UK. Sources at the company have not revealed how much extra weight the roof mechanism adds, but Mazda has retuned the RF’s power-steering set-up to reflect changes in the car’s balance. The new MX-5 is the same length and width as a regular roadster, and its roofline is just 5mm higher.

The RF is due on sale in the UK in 2017. Prices have yet to be confirmed, but we expect it to carry a premium of around £2,500 over the regular roadster. The RF editions will be available with both the 1.5 and 2.0-litre engines, so prices should start from around £21,000.

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