MAZDA

MAZDA MX-5 RF CONVERTIBLE 1.5 [132] Sport 2dr

Fuel

FuelPetrol

Transmission

TransmissionManual

Acceleration

0 - 62 mph8.7s

WLTP - CO2 (g/km)

WLTP - CO2142 g/km

It would have been incredibly easy for Mazda to ruin the MX-5 by putting a folding hard top roof on it. Just as well then that instead of rushing this concept to market, the Japanese company did a proper job on this car. It's not just an MX-5 with a different roof. Mazda have managed to imbue the RF derivative with a more mature feel without losing the fun factor. More power for the 2.0-litre version is the finishing touch.

SHOWING ITS METAL

Defying expectations, the Mazda MX-5 RF Retractable Fastback might just be an even better bet than the standard roadster model. Like that variant, it now gets a more power. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at what's on offer.

Ten Second Review

It would have been incredibly easy for Mazda to ruin the MX-5 by putting a folding hard top roof on it. Just as well then that instead of rushing this concept to market, the Japanese company did a proper job on this car. It's not just an MX-5 with a different roof. Mazda have managed to imbue the RF derivative with a more mature feel without losing the fun factor. More power for the 2.0-litre version is the finishing touch.

Background

Cars with folding hard top roofs can be rather grotty things. Curiously malformed with distended bottoms and pinched cabins, they usually lose their looks and their practicality once the roof's up and all you're left with is toothbrush room in the boot once the hood has done its contortionist's trick. Oh yes, these cars offer the customer more. More weight, more complexity and more expense, that is. Therefore, we shuddered when Mazda first announced a 'Retractable Fastback' 'RF' version of its fourth generation MX-5. Seems we needn't have worried after all. It's the exception that proves the rule. Utilising the basis of an existing MX-5, Mazda managed to build a car that will appeal to a subtly different audience. For many metropolitan types, parking on street is a way of life but the hard-topped RF variant offers additional security and is vandal-proofed in a manner that no fabric-roofed car can be. It's also a little more refined than the soft-top model.

Driving Experience

Under the bonnet, this RF model gets the same two powerplants available in the standard MX-5. That means it's offered with either a 1.5-litre 132PS engine or an uprated 2.0-litre 184PS unit. As with the ordinary roadster variant, all models powered by the 2.0-litre 184PS engine feature a limited slip differential and 17-inch wheels. Top versions feature Bilstein dampers and a strut brace to further enhance their dynamic set up. This fourth generation MX-5 design conforms to five key criteria that Mazda claim define this model line - rear drive with a front-mid engine layout, 50/50 weight distribution and an eagerness to change direction, plus a low kerb weight and an affordable price. Most RF models get six-speed manual gearboxes but Mazda is also offering a paddleshift auto option at the top of the range for the few that want it. As you would expect, the suspension and electric power steering parameters of the MX-5 have been specifically tuned for the Retractable Fastback version. In addition, a sound-absorbing headliner used in the front and middle roof panels combines with sound insulation around the rear wheel housings to deliver a significantly quieter cabin when the roof is closed. If you want to open the top, this can be done on the move at speeds of up to 6mph.

Design and Build

The MX-5 RF's electrically retractable hardtop consists of front, middle and rear roof sections - and a rear screen. When the top is lowered, the front and middle portions are stowed together, while the rear glass sits behind the seats, leaving the rear roof section in place to create a unique open-topped look, plus a cabin feeling that combines a sense of open air freedom with the impression of being securely ensconced within the car. A 5mm increase in roof height aside, the RF retains the same overall length, width and wheelbase as the standard MX-5 convertible, but thanks to gently downward-slopping buttresses that tuck in at the sides to create a teardrop shape, the RF's elegant fastback silhouette accentuates the MX-5's dynamic and contemporary sports car proportions in quite a unique way. Otherwise, things are much as they are in any other MX-5. True to sportscar tradition, there's a stitched leather-trimmed short-throw gearshift lever, with further premium leather on a grippy three-spoke steering wheel that looks and feels great but sadly, still only adjusts for height and not for reach. Through it, you view three satin chrome-ringed gauges, a large rev counter centrally positioned in pride of place. Out back, there's a tiny 127-litre boot, but at least the designers have kept the reduction on capacity over the normal fabric-topped model to just 3-litres.

Market and Model

There's a premium of just under £2,000 to order this RF variant over the standard fabric-topped roadster model. That means pricing that starts at just under £26,000 for the entry-level 'SE-L' variant fitted with the base 1.5-litre 132PS engine. There's a large £2,300 premium to pay on top of that if you want the better-equipped 'Sport' variant with its Bilstein dampers and a strut brace. In the 2.0-litre RF line-up, prices start at just over £30,000 for 'Sport Tech' trim and you're looking at having to find £1,500 more to upgrade to 'GT Sport Tech' spec. Both these top trim levels can be ordered with the £1,600 option of paddleshift auto transmission but by that time, you'll be paying at least £32,000, which some might feel is a little too much for any MX-5. Options are limited to mica, metallic or pearlescent paint, plus on 'Sport' models, you can add in nappa leather trim and a 'Safety Pack' giving you High Beam Control and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Cost of Ownership

In contrast to the metal folding top 'Roadster Coupe' body style in the previous generation MX-5 range, this RF model's top doesn't add a significant amount of weight to this iconic little car. Which means that in this form, the MX-5 should cost you pretty much the same amount to run as the equivalent fabric-roofed variant. Let's get specific with the WLTP figures. The 2.0-litre version most will choose will return a combined fuel consumption return of 40.9mpg and a CO2 reading of 155g/km. Or 37.2mpg and 171g/km for the 2.0-litre auto. If you go for the lesser 1.5-litre manual model, those figures improve to 44.8mpg and 142g/km. Insurance groupings start at 25E for the 1.5-litre model and run up to group 28E for the top 2.0-litre auto variant. On to residual values, always a relative strongpoint with this car. Independent experts CAP reckon that after the usual three year/60,000 mile ownership period, this car will retain between 39 and 42% of its original value. To give you some perspective, a premium open-topped sportscar like, say, a BMW Z4 would give you between 33 and 34%. Yes, something like an Audi TT Roadster would do better, but its higher purchase price inevitably means that you'll lose more money throughout your time of ownership. CAP forecasts suggest that over the regular three year period, the TT will lose over £19,000, well over £6,000 more than the value this MX-5 would shed. Makes you think doesn't it?

Summary

The Mazda MX-5 is a tough car to improve upon but this Retractable Fastback version just about manages it, effectively offering added capability with - cost aside - almost no downside. With many MX-5 models down the years, the ethos was always less is more. The entry-level car was usually the best bet but the RF variant has changed that, offering a slightly more mature feel that rewards a bigger engine and more kit. As a result, this retractable hard-top version of the MX-5 has brought the car onto the radar of a new group of buyers. Not everyone gets the MX-5 experience of course. It certainly won't appeal to those prioritising power. Or people needing the practicality of a hot hatch or a sports coupe. At the other extreme, a specialist sportscar maker could offer you a more intense experience, though one that for the most part would be largely irrelevant for public road use. That's where this Mazda excels. You don't need a test track, a racing driver's touch or a lottery winner's wallet with this car. Just a back-to-basics love of driving. The way it ought to be.

  • Electric front windows/one touch facility
  • Rain sensing front wipers

  • Smart City Brake Support - SCBS
  • Hill hold assist
  • Rear smart city brake support
  • DSTC-Dynamic Stability and Traction Control
  • Anti lock brake system + Electronic Brake force Distribution

  • Hands free phone preparation
  • Apple car play/Android Auto
  • Aha and stitcher app
  • Integrated bluetooth including internet app integration

  • Driver alert system
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Power assisted steering
  • Cruise control + speed limiter
  • Rear parking sensor

  • Remote boot release
  • Engine start/stop button

  • Service indicator
  • Analogue speedometer
  • Water temperature gauge
  • Trip computer
  • Tachometer
  • Electronic odometer
  • Integrated navigation system
  • 7" colour touch screen with Mazda connect infotainment

  • Automatic dimming rear view mirror
  • Body coloured electric/heated door mirrors

  • Chrome meter rings
  • Chrome air vent surrounds
  • Leather effect lower dash panel with silver stitching

  • I-ELOOP
  • i-stop

  • Premium Bose sound system with 9 speakers with 2 in each front headrest, AM/FM/DAB radio and single CD/MP3
  • 2 USB/aux input socket
  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls

  • Electrically operated body colour retractable hard top with heated rear glass window
  • Piano Black fashion bars
  • Body colour bumpers
  • Dual exhaust pipes
  • Black scuff plates with stainless steel insert
  • Body colour co ordinated interior upper door trim

  • Coming/leaving home lighting function
  • LED indicator lights
  • LED 3rd brake light
  • Automatic headlamp levelling
  • LED rear lights
  • Dusk sensitive headlamps
  • High mounted rear brake light with Black coloured cover
  • LED daytime running lights
  • LED Headlights
  • Adaptive front lighting system

  • Climate control air conditioning

  • Centre console storage box
  • Lockable rear storage box
  • Front centre armrest
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Tilt/telescopic steering column
  • Leather handbrake lever
  • Coin Box
  • Leather gear knob
  • Perforated leather upholstery
  • 12V socket
  • Windblocker
  • Side door in Black leatherette with Red stitching
  • Gear shift indicator
  • Chrome Air conditioning dials
  • Silver stitching on fabric seat, steering wheel, gear knob, hand brake and door trim
  • Two cupholders

  • Driver and front passenger airbags
  • Deployable Hood System (DHS)
  • Tyre pressure monitor
  • 3 point ELR front seatbelts with pretensioners
  • Passenger airbag deactivation system
  • Passenger airbag deactivate switch
  • Side airbags
  • Fasten seatbelt reminder

  • Sports seats
  • ISOFIX front passenger seat child seat compliance
  • Heated front seats, in 3 heat levels
  • Front head restraints
  • Driver/ passenger seat manual slide, recline and tilt adjustment

  • Thatcham category 1 alarm + immobiliser
  • Smart keyless entry
  • Remote central door locking
  • Superlocking

  • Driver/passenger sunvisors with ticket holders + vanity mirrors

  • 16" Bright finish alloy wheels

  • Tyre puncture repair kit

  • CO2 (g/km): 138
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Particles: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low: 178
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium: 134
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High: 122
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High: 151
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 142

  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: MULTI POINT FUEL INJECTION
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: NORTH SOUTH
  • Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
  • Transmission: MANUAL
  • Gears: 6 SPEED
  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 74.5
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 85.8
  • CC: 1496

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • EC Urban (mpg): 34.4
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 54.3
  • EC Combined (mpg): 44.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 47.9
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 52.3
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 42.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 44.8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 7.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 5.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 5.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 6.6
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 6.3

  • Generation Mark: 4
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Did at least one aspect of this vehicle's safety give cause for concern?: False
  • Coin Series: Sport
  • Coin Description: N
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 60000
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • Manufacturers Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 12
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 25E
  • Service Interval Mileage: 12500
  • Service Interval Frequency - Months: 12
  • Timing Belt Interval Mileage: N
  • Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months: N
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: N
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: N
  • Badge Power: 132
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.5
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1

  • Engine Power - KW: 97
  • Engine Power - RPM: 7000
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 112
  • Engine Torque - NM: 152
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 4000
  • Engine Power - BHP: 132
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 60 mph (secs): False
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 8.7
  • Top Speed: 126
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 15.5

  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2

  • Tyre Size Front: 195/50 R16
  • Tyre Size Rear: 195/50 R16
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 16" ALLOY
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False

  • Width (including mirrors): N
  • Height: 1230
  • Height (including roof rails): N
  • Length: 3915
  • Width: 1735
  • Wheelbase: 2310

  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1044
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 1265
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 45
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 127
  • No. of Seats: 2
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: N
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: N
  • Max. Loading Weight: 221
  • Max. Roof Load: N
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): N
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 10.4

  • Metallic paint: £550
  • Mica paint: £550
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Special Metallic paint: £790
  • Additional special metallic paint: £670

  • Metallic - Polymetal grey: £550

  • Mica - Eternal blue: £550
  • Mica - Jet black: £550

  • Solid - Arctic white: £0

  • Special metallic - Soul red: £790
  • Special metallic - Machine grey: £670

  • Perforated leather - Black with silver stitching: £0

Whilst every effort is made to verify and ensure the accuracy of the data, the information should only be used as a guide and no purchasing decision should be made without verification of the data from either the manufacturer or franchised dealer. Our offers may be on a different model year to that represented by this data and so specification may differ accordingly.

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