First Look: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The answer… is it always really Miata? If you don’t love convertibles, then no it’s not. Now though, that is all set to change thanks to the pending arrival of the 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF.
The RF stands for Retractable Fastback. This is a Miata with a retractable coupe roof that turns into a targa-topped MX-5. It’s very nearly the best of both worlds, and it’s set to hit dealers sometime in the spring of 2017.
Design and weight were important here. From the side, you can’t see the shutlines of the top. It looks seamless. The top adds 100 pounds to the curb weight, which is less than adding your fat friend into the passenger seat… and it’s more balanced.
Overall, the RF should prove to be a smooth looking slow-car-fast favorite for all climates. Folks drive their Miatas in all types of weather, but now they can do so with more style and a minimal weight gain.

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  1. karonetwentyc Avatar

    The Miata RF is one of those cars that I have to look at and know that while I definitely don’t dislike it (and certainly appreciate Mazda doing something a bit different with it), I also know that there’s an intangible reason that keeps it from outright appealing to me.
    Like I say: that reason is intangible, and putting my finger on it has thus far eluded me. I don’t mind the more Elise-like profile of the RF, or even the roof itself. But it does also remind me of the Honda Civic Del Sol, another notable experiment in unusual roof configurations and one that never quite caught on.
    The poor- (or hot-) weather comfort of a convertible car with a hardtop that doesn’t need to be completely removed undoubtedly has a practical appeal, but that’s balanced out by the part of me that never really found taking a hardtop on or off of a small convertible to be much of an issue. Sparing the greater weight and packaging considerations of a Mercedes SLK-style folding roof is also a plus, but the RF’s targa roof also doesn’t provide a fully-open cabin when all is said and done.
    My experience with targa roofs largely comes from Subaru Brats, and strangely enough those trucklets’ lineage is what’s starting to clarify the puzzlement in my mind surrounding the Miata RF. More accurately, the Baja that followed the Brat is the catalyst: an interesting idea with some clever features, but with an execution that ultimately may not answer the question that was being asked. Time will tell, but it’s not clear to my mind if the RF is the correct answer to the perceived question.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      For what it’s worth, if I owned a car with a hardtop, I wouldn’t exactly have anywhere to put it (penalties of condo life). That’s a small point in favour of a folding hardtop.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        Re: the practicalities: completely understood. For perspective:
        The car that I specifically had in mind for the removable hardtop example was the Fiat 850 Spider I had quite some time ago. As small convertibles go, this is certainly one of the smallest – but, living as I was in a 3rd-floor apartment with no usable elevator access (that’s a story for another time) during my ownership of that car, getting the hardtop up to my apartment was an effort in and of itself.
        Bear in mind that I lived by myself at the time and was in my 20s when I owned the car, so I was young, dumb, and seemingly-indestructible enough that wrangling the top off of the car and up to my apartment – solo – was perfectly sensible.
        Realistically, I could have stored the top behind the car; it was short enough that there was enough room in my parking space for both if the top was stored vertically. However, there was no good way to secure it to anything likely to have kept it from wandering off, so onto the apartment’s balcony it went until the weather turned to either crap or boiling.
        Either way, I do realise that this doesn’t really change your considerations, and I do understand where you’re coming from. Just thought I’d give the perspective on my thoughts, but I do realise that they don’t fit everyone’s situation.

  2. julkinen Avatar

    Not a lot of people know this, but “RF” stands for “Del Sol”.

  3. kogashiwa Avatar

    If I were in the market it’d be 50/50 which version I’d get.
    I have to think that this didn’t cost the earth to develop and has potential to increase sales by quite a bit, so I’m only surprised they didn’t think of it sooner.

  4. CraigSu Avatar

    It’s coupe enough for me. I’m in!

  5. stigshift Avatar

    Needlessly complicated and utterly bereft of any practicality. No one involved with the RF ever saw an X1/9 apparently. The Fiat is a paragon of packaging efficiency.

    1. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
      Simon BiTurbo

      As an owner of an ex-X1/9 (got hit by a tree) I second this.
      You could stow the hardtop in the frunk and it still had storage space in the back.
      I must get another one at some point.

    2. ol shel Avatar
      ol shel

      Uh, for a mid-engined car, maybe, but it still has little storage space for its wheelbase and length. Every front-engined car will beat it.

      1. stigshift Avatar

        You had a majority of luggage space in the front trunk, which was designed to allow the roof panel to stow above the luggage. The spare tire was even stored inside the passenger compartment, behind the passenger seat. The X1/9 had absolutely no wasted space. Trust me, I’ve owned both an X1/9 and an NA Miata. The Fiat holds much more, all accessible.

  6. OttoNobedder Avatar

    I’m kinda drooling on my keyboard… reminiscent of a Z-4, maybe??
    I wonder what sacrifices in the trunk were made??

  7. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Nice RooFie

  8. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
    Simon BiTurbo

    If I had one of these the first thing I would do is weld the hardtop in place and ditch all the motors and gubbins.