The Mazda Miata has been around for 27 years, and this car has remained relatively true to the original car with the greatest technological advancement being the introduction of a Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) model in 2006. By the end of the production run of the third-generation “NC” Miata, almost 60 percent of the cars were PRHT models. Since the customer is always right, meet the beautiful 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF; if you’re wondering, RF stands for Retractable Fastback. Without adding too much complexity, weight or cost, the new Miata RF is yet another reason for Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and FIAT 124 Spider buyers to give a harder look at the iconic MX-5 Miata.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Exterior:
The current “ND” Miata is already one slick-looking sports car, and the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF kicks things up a notch with a profile somewhat reminiscent of the ultra-rare Pontiac Solstice Coupe combined with a trick automated top not unlike what the current Porsche 911 Targa uses. The top is easy to use and folds back at the push of a button, but honestly, it takes about as much effort as the spring-loaded manual top of the standard Miata.
It takes just 13 seconds to transform the RF from a coupe to an open-air sports car, and unlike some convertibles out there, it looks good regardless of whether the top is up or down. This is thanks to the roadster-style buttresses and the fake, blacked-out quarter windows. The overall lines of this car are superb, which only begs the question of if Mazda will ever create a true hard-top Miata coupe. For now, though, the Miata RF is as good as you can get with a stylish sports car for this price. The Grand Touring trim level comes with dark silver 17-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels, which looked great against this tester’s Machine Gray Metallic paint hue.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Interior:
Inside, the only major difference between the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF and the soft-top Miata is a little less headroom. If you’re taller or need to wear a helmet for track day, just push the button and drop the top. Problem solved! The RF also has fractionally less cargo volume than the Roadster (4.48 cubic feet versus 4.59 cubic feet). These are a small price to pay not only for a sexy exterior, but also a more enjoyable interior thanks to a quieter cabin at highway speeds. The RF has all the conveniences of a conventional coupe including a glass rear window with a defroster.
Speaking of conveniences, the Grand Touring trim level is chock-full with standard features such as heated leather seats, seats, navigation, automatic climate control and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with speakers built into the driver and passenger seat headrests. The audio system is controlled by the Mazda Connect infotainment system, which can be operated using the seven-inch touch screen display when the car is at a stop or the rotary knob while at speed.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Powertrain:
Just like the soft-top Miata, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is powered by the 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G inline-four with 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Sure, that isn’t a lot of power on paper, but if you think the Miata needs more power, you’re using it wrong. This car isn’t about 0-60 or 1/4 mile times. It’s about pure driver enjoyment and carving corners with the confidence of a professional racecar driver. This tester was equipped the six-speed manual transmission that adds to the Miata’s driving pleasure. In the modern age of motoring, the Miata RF also proves that a car can be fun and efficient with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway**.
Now if you think adding a retractable fastback top would add unnecessary weight to the Miata RF, you would be sorely mistaken. Apples to apples, the RF Grand Touring weighs 148 pounds less than the 2015 Miata PRHT, but more surprising is the fact that this hardtop Miata actually weighs less than a base NC Miata! Perhaps the best reason to opt for the RF model is that the added weight for the roof mechanism gives this car a perfectly even 50:50 weight distribution, making the Miata an even better track car… who knew that was even possible?
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Safety:
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the only current Mazda product not tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (all others have received a Top Safety Pick+ rating); likewise, it hasn’t received ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That being said, it does come with as much safety that Mazda could pack into such a small package including your typical front and side impact airbags as well as Blind Spot Monitoring and Tire Pressure Monitoring, while the Grand Touring trim adds Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Land Departure Warning System, Adaptive Front Lighting System and High Beam Control as standard equipment.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Overall:
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is better than its soft-top counterpart, but there is no doubting the fact that this is the sexiest Miata ever made! Fortunately, the added convenience of a power top doesn’t take away from the Miata’s affordability or performance attributes. Since there is no base RF Sport model, a comparable soft-top Miata Grand Touring will save you just $1,350 with the RF starting at $31,555* for the track-oriented Club model. For a true grand touring experience, the RF GT starts at $32,620* with this car having an as-tested price of $34,310. You’re just not going to find a convertible – or perhaps any sports car – that is this much fun to drive for such a low price.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mazda dealership and test drive the all-new 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.