Mazda MX-5 RF: what the public thinks

Mazda MX-5 RF: what the public thinks
Mazda MX-5 RF: what the public thinks

Fans and owners return their verdict on retractable hard-top MX-5

Generation after generation, Mazda’s evergreen MX-5 roadster has appealed with its exciting drive, fun personality and wallet-friendly price. Its ultimate calling card is the way it comes alive at really quite sensible speeds, unlike some of its more daunting sports car competitors.

Rivals have come and rivals have gone, but now that it’s reached its fourth generation the MX-5 is pretty much in a class of one – if you exclude the Fiat 124 Spider, which is based on the Mazda anyway. And now the soft-top have been joined by a convertible hard-top called the Retractable Fastback, hence the RF moniker.

The £22,195 RF (about £3700 more than the soft-top) is expected to account for 80 per cent of MX-5 sales when it reaches showrooms in March, so a lot is riding on its success. We gave a group of current and potential MX-5 owners an early opportunity to see the model in the metal for themselves. What was their verdict?

Hey, good looking

Immediately, the new car’s appearance was singled out for universal praise. Enterprise architect Paul Keegan said: “With the roof up, it’s better looking than the previous hard-top MX-5.” Communications manager Andrea Rivlin agreed. “From every angle, it’s a beautiful car. Photographs don’t do it justice,” she added.

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“From an engineering perspective, the folding roof is a very clever, elegant design. It’s easy to use, too, and Mazda’s track record means it should be reliable,” exclaimed IT and finance specialist Mark Hanson. The evolution of the roof-operation mechanism over the previous incarnation really appealed to Keegan, as well: “It’s all done with the button now, so the whole process is that bit easier. The roof takes about the same time to retract, and it’s a bit quieter,” he explained.

Both being tall men, the two differed in their opinions of the cabin space. While 6ft 1in Keegan was quite happy with the headroom available with the roof up, 6ft 2in Hanson said he’d like to do a test drive before making a future buying decision.

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Superior interior?

So far so good, but then the panel’s attentions turned to the infotainment system – and the verdict wasn’t a positive one. Hanson summed up the general complaints with it as being: “Quite ‘sticky uppy’!”

Despite that glitch, the rest of the cabin received a general thumbs-up. Rivlin explained: “I was hesitant about the interior, because the soft-top I drove didn’t look all that refined inside. But this top-spec car is fantastic quality.”

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The new RF will share its stablemate’s 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol engine line-up, but will be available only with an automatic gearbox. That final point swung Hyundai i10 driver Rivlin on the idea of ownership: “When I heard that it would be available with an auto, I was sold. I’ve already ordered an MX-5 RF!”

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