Everything You Want To Know About the RF

Mazda’s head of design talks about the new fastback

MX5 ND World Car of the Year

World Car

The fourth-generation Mazda MX5 has been named both the 2016 World Car of the Year (WCOTY) and the World Car Design of the Year. It is the first model to win both titles in the history of the awards.

World Car of the Year was established in 2004 by an international group of automotive journalists, and the judging panel this year consisted of 73 journalists from 23 different countries. The MX5 was announced victorious over other finalists the Audi A4 Sedan/Avant and the Mercedes-Benz GLC, at the New York International Auto Show on March 24th. The other finalists for World Car Design of the Year were the Jaguar XE and the Mazda CX-3.

“What a wonderful honour.” said Masahiro Moro, President of Mazda North American Operations. “As our iconic MX5 roadster approaches one-million units of production, this award is proof that it is as young, vibrant, fun and relevant as ever, and proof that every Mazda looks as incredible as it drives, and drives as incredibly as it looks.”

The new MX5 has won over 30 awards so far, including 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan and 2016 UK Car of the Year (UKCOTY). The retractable hardtop version of the model, Mazda MX5 RF, makes its world debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. (See below).

The New MX5 RF

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The Mazda MX5 RF has made its world premiere in New York, bringing a new twist to the traditional idea of how to produce a folding hardtop. The ‘RF’ stands for Retractable Fastback..

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The MX5 RF’s novel roof consists of segmented front, middle and rear sections, and retractable back window glass. The C-pillar lifts, and the middle section of the roof is stowed away in the boot, all via the flick of a switch. While the C-pillar is fixed in place when the top is down, the glass back window is retractable.

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Dimensionally, the MX5 RF matches the soft-top in all areas bar height. It’s only 5mm taller. The interior is undoubtedly cosy, to say the least. The roof adds to the kerb weight over the soft top, but Mazda is not yet saying how much. It’ll almost certainly undercut the old NC hardtop.

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Further differentiating the RF is the extra sound-deadening in the headlining and around the rear wheel housings. You can also option up to real Nappa leather trim, and the RF also has a 4.6-inch TFT LCD screen in the instrument cluster that displays an animation of the roof when in operation.

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The MX5 RF “significantly improves” ride quietness, according to Mazda, as well as what it calls “the feeling of high quality”. It also gets its own unique suspension tune to work better with the small weight impost (?) of the hard roof.

Video of the roof mechanism in operation

What do I think? I am sure it will sell, but the mechanism for the hood looks heavy and complicated, and seems like a sledge hammer to crack a nut. Why didn’t they use the fast back design, make the boot bigger and fit a Porsche type targa top, shown below, which stowed behind the seats? This would have been more in keeping with the ND lightweight philosophy. Finally, it appears cramped and a bit claustrophobic. We will have to wait and see what the production model looks like.

Targa TopPorsche 911 Targa top.

The RF is due on sale in the UK in 2017. Prices have yet to be confirmed, but it is expected 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.

MX5 is UK Car of the Year!


Taking the overall Car of the Year title, the all-new Mazda MX5 has added to its impressive awards tally, which includes ten new honours in 2016 alone. An independent set of awards specifically aimed at naming the best new cars on the market in the United Kingdom, the UK Car of the Year awards are judged by 27 of Britain’s leading automotive journalists with road tests carried out on British roads.

It won the Imported Convertible category of German magazine Auto, Motor & Sport’s ‘Best Cars 2106’ reader’s choice awards, and was voted ‘Best Cabrio of the Year’ by Portuguese magazine Turbo. In Australia, the MX5 was named 2016 Wheels Car of the Year for the third time in the model’s history. It was also voted US News & World Report’s ‘Best Sports Car for the Money 2016’, and, in Canada, TSN Motoring TV’s ‘Sports car of the Year’. Also named 2015-16 Japan Car of the Year and the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame’s 2015-16 Car of the Year, the latest incarnation of the iconic roadster has reaffirmed Mazda’s dominance of the affordable sports car sector.

2016 Bridge

Maintaining the driver-focused ethos that has made the Mazda MX5 the best-selling two-seater sports car of all time, the SKYACTIV engineering philosophy behind the all-new MX5 has allowed Mazda to retain the agility, fun and engagement that has always defined it, while at the same time meeting ever increasing safety and efficiency requirements, alongside improved refinement.
The lightest MX5 since the iconic original, the all-new Mazda MX5 is shorter, lower and wider than the outgoing car, with the smallest overhangs and lowest centre of gravity yet. These dynamic proportions combined with Mazda’s KODO: Soul of Motion design philosophy ensure that the all-new Mazda MX5’s styling reflects its focus on driving pleasure in an unmistakably contemporary and dynamic way.

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