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Mazda MX-5 RF retractable hardtop revealed

The Mazda MX-5 RF retractable hardtop has been revealed at the New York Motor Show showing off fastback styling.

THE MAZDA MX-5 RF with retractable hardtop has been revealed at the New York Motor Show overnight. With its announcement, Mazda seems to have ignored the fact plenty of other car makers have produced convertibles with a folding metal roof, saying: “Many people who would love to own a convertible end up choosing a car with a fixed hardtop roof instead”. Hmmm.

Mazda has issued three releases about its retractable hardtop, but the key features are that it can be opened or closed via a button at up to 10km/h which is a long way off the pace when compared with other convertibles, even those with a folding metal roof. The current soft-top is manually converted and that can be done at any speed you like, subject to being able to handle the wind. We’ve done it at 40km/h.  Regardless, the looks of this new roof elevate the MX-5 from looking good, to looking great.

Here’s how Mazda MX-5 chief designer, Masashi Nakayama described the design: “I wanted to introduce the fun of driving a lightweight sports car to a broader audience, and it was my love for the Mazda MX-5 that gave birth to the design of the new MX-5 RF. If we consider the soft-top model to represent the purist appeal of the lightweight sports car, which we recently honed in a stoic effort to reach new heights, then the retractable fastback represents a new type of MX-5 that aims to be a compact sports car with a natural charm that anybody and everybody will find beautiful.

“I figured the addition of a hardtop version of the fourth-generation MX-5 demanded that we introduce a sleek fastback design with a smooth line joining the roof to the rear end if we were to create a look of beauty that would appeal to all. I considered this point critical to the design, and didn’t waver over that conviction for a moment. To convey the fun and charm of the MX-5 experience to a larger, more diverse range of people rather than just sports car fans, I felt the MX-5 RF must embody natural beauty and not attempt to attract attention by merely being different.

“This led me to quickly decide to adopt fastback styling. The rub was that this also became the biggest hurdle in designing the MX-5 RF. It may not look like it at a glance, but this is a car with a retractable roof! It’s a car that lets drivers enjoy the pleasure of open-air driving along with a unique sense of being ensconced securely in the cabin! It would be impossible to achieve a combination of this new form of driving pleasure and beautiful fastback styling if I applied conventional thinking. Anything short of creating a new design expression and teaming up with the design and production engineers to approach the project with passion and determination as a team, and the whole concept would be just pie in the sky.

“I am hoping the MX-5 RF will surprise a wide variety of people and contribute to increased interest in the MX-5, while increasing the number of people who enjoy the car’s beauty and the pleasure of driving without limiting the appeal to those interested in sports cars.”

In profile or from the rear-three quarters, the MX-5 RF offers fastback styling, doesn’t take up extra space in the boot with this MX-5 offering the same amount of bootspace as its soft-top sibling. There’s still no word when it will arrive in Australia, but we do know it will be exclusively available with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

Stay tuned. And, in the meantime check out our MX5- reviews:


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober