New Mazda MX-5 RF ‘Retractable Fastback’ from £22,195

Mazda MX-5 RF – front Goodwood

The Mazda MX-5 RF is on the way, and the brand has now revealed its price in the UK. The Retractable Fastback model gets a folding hard-top roof and starts from £22,195. The car will go on sale here on the 4th of March 2017.

The car wil be a limited edition model, with just 500 cars available. A 2.0-litre Launch Edition model will sit at the top of the range, costing £28,995, and gets a two-tone roof, BBS alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a black rear spoiler. The car also gets the Safety Pack, Alcantara trim and Recaro seats as standard.

Both engines will be available for the RF, with the 1.5-litre cars available in May 2017 – and the trim structure follows the convertible closely, as 2.0-litre cars still get the larger wheels and limited-slip differential as standard. An automatic version will also be offered.

A 1.5-litre SE-L Nav costs from £22,195, while the cheapest 2.0-litre model is also the SE-L Nav, from £23,095. Sport Nav models, which get upgraded suspension, start from £24,795.

The RF, which was first revealed at the New York Motor Show, follows the previous-gen folding hardtop version, which accounted for up to 80% 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 – side/rear Goodwood

“We started work on this car eight years ago,” Nobuhiro Yamamoto, Program Manager of MX-5, told Auto Express. “We had the soft-top and this version in mind right from the start.”

“We wanted the cars to have two different characters: the soft top is more casual and the RF is a little bit more formal.” That’s reflected in the interior, too, according to Yamamoto-san, with a higher quality feel and a new LCD display in the dash.

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 takes around 12 seconds, and it can happen at speeds of up to 6mph.

Mazda MX-5 RF – full front Goodwood

Accoding to Yamamoto-san, the priorities for the roof were for it to stow away easily, for the mechanism to stay true to Mazda’s light weight philosophy and for there to be no increase in wheelbase.

Mazda’s engineers assessed eight and six-part folding roof mechanisms, before settling on the four-part structure shown in our exclusive drawings by MX-5 chief designer Masashi Nakayama (below).

Mazda Mx-5 RF – Masashi Nakayama drawing

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. 

Few official figures for the new car have been released, but Yamamoto-san did reveal to us that we should expect an increase in body weight that’s slightly more than the 40kg extra the old folding hard-top MX-5 used to carry over the old soft-top model.

Mazda has retuned the RF’s power-steering set-up to reflect changes in the car’s balance, while suspension settings have been tweaked to reflect the car’s different character and to adjust for the extra weight. The new MX-5 is the same length and width as a regular roadster, and its roofline is just 5mm higher.

• Check out the story on our sister site Carbuyer…

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