Crowned as the best-selling 2-seater sports car in history by the Guinness World Records, the 4th generation Mazda MX-5 has had an update of a retractable hardtop and the contour of a coupe. Furthermore, it amplifies the design discipline of the latest KODO – Soul of Motion design philosophy. The Retractable Fastback, or RF, in short, fuses in both the characteristics of the soft-top variant and the fastback trim of the U.S.-spec Club variant. It features a 3-paneled retractable roof that folds to the size similar of the soft top, while a fastback rear trim gives more stance to the car.
Inspired by the motto “Innovate in order to preserve” during its development, the MX-5 RF embraces the SkyActiv technology to deliver that same pure driving fun that only a lightweight sports car can. The MX-5 also boasts more cabin space while using richer materials. Equipment is also generous, a Human Machine Interface (HMI) with a 7-inch Touchscreen LCD monitor CD/MP3 is standard. In the manual variant, you get fabric seats while the automatic gives you leather seating available in black or tan. Under the hood is a SkyActiv-G 2.0L in-line 4 engine mated to a SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed automatic or a SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed manual transmission. It produces 184 hp and 205 Nm of torque.
The MX-5 in its soft-top variant came to the Philippines in August of 2015. The RF variant's launch happened in the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) in the month of March 2017, nearly 2 years after the launch of the soft-top.
Platform, Chassis and Powertrain
The MX-5 RF rides on a chassis that is has a near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution. The two-door MX-5 can only seat two individuals at a time with minimal cargo space and a long hood. The wheels that the car rolls on wheels that measure 17-inches in diameter. The front suspension is a double-wishbone set, while the rear wheels contain a multi-link pair. Mazda has engineered and reinforced the monocoque unibody chassis of the MX-5 using a backbone frame construction, with front and rear suspension subframes adding more rigidity.
Power comes from a naturally-aspirated 2.0L in-line 4-cylinder engine that produces 184 hp with 205 Nm of torque. The transmission options on offer are either a 6-speed manual gearbox or an automatic 6-speed unit that comes on the higher-spec variants.
The Mazda roadster has always been a driver's car. With its front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout, it stays true to the formula that was pioneered with its first-generation model, the Mazda MX-5 Miata NA. A light chassis, drop-top, and a naturally aspirated engine make this roadster a fun drive thanks to its feedback-driven suspension setup and near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution. The car handles nimbly through corners and is a pleasure to drive with or without the roof up.
The infotainment system is Mazda's MZD Connect system and features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity options. Occupants can also connect through Bluetooth, USB, or AUX. The display of the infotainment system is a 7-inch touchscreen that also utilizes Mazda's Command Knob to get around. The roadster also feature keyless entry, a set of rear parking sensors and backup camera. Since this is the RF model, it comes with a motorized roof, which earns it the RF monicker, which stands for Retractable Fastback.
The exterior of the Mazda MX-5 RF features the brand's Kodo design language which makes the vehicle appear to be in constant motion. Sultry curves make up the exterior profile of the car. On the front, slim headlights mark its presence while corners that are sharp and smooth appear on several areas of the front, side, and rear. The traditional shape of a roadster is kept, with a long hood and a short rear, allowing for the motor to be pushed behind the front axle.
The MX-5 RF is available in a total of 6 colors to choose from. Pick between Arctic White, Soul Red, Jet Black Mica, Snowflake White Pearl, Ceramic Metallic, and Eternal Blue.
The interior of the MX-5 RF can be had in several different configurations. Mazda provides several color variations on offer in the Philippines, with the normal black colored leather upholstery being the base. Nappa leather can be had a variant higher, and this features a different tone of leather that is lighter. Lastly, the RF also comes in a Club Edition which features black Recaro sport seats with red accents all around. The dashboard features a floating head unit as well, Mazda touts as being in the optimal position for the driver to operate without taking their eyes off the road.
Mazda installed a set of dual airbags in the front, and a pair of side airbags in the cabin of the MX-5. The chassis also features side-impact door beams as well as 3-point harnesses for all passengers. To help control the vehicle, stability assist has been added to counteract potentially hairy situations that may arise when driving spiritedly. An ABS system with electronic brakeforce distribution also finds its way to all models, and a lane-departure warning system lets drivers know if a car is incoming as they merge.
Pros & Cons
The MX-5 is a roadster, which merits it many points relating to the driving dynamics and handling. It's a nimble chassis with a capable engine that delivers power to the rear wheels. Because the RF model is a hardtop, NVH insulation is much better than its soft-top counterpart. In its top of the line trim, the Club Edition, a set of BBS wheels pop and give the car even more appeal.
It isn't without its flaws, however. If you opt for the Club Edition, the Recaro seats favor individuals with a slimmer body type. That being said, the car focuses on driving dynamics more than it focuses on interior space. That being said, space is compromised in this roadster, even with only two occupants inside. The cramped nature of the cabin also hampers rear visibility, which is mitigated by a backup camera.