#NYIAS: 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF – Retractable Fastback Is New GT86 Rival

mx5 rfRF does not stand for Really Fast.  But it could stand for Really Fun!

In reality, it is the new badge for the MX-5 hardtop. This power retractable targa panel slides behind the new B-pillar uprights in back and atop the trunk.

Scratch that: the entire roof actually folds under the rising uprights behind each seat.  These buttresses lift up and let the hardtop fold away.  This keeps a wind deflector in back with the top down, but does not appear to let the rear glass or roof move individually: only as a unit. It is not exactly as clean as the previous-gen PRHT’s design in maintaining a fairly flat tonneau cover behind the cockpit. But it does one better: it creates the MX-5 hardtop coupe that many have dreamed of for decades.

It is a complex upgrade of the MX-5’s softtop style, but seems effective at offering a foul-weather and city-safe roof alternative.

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF



  • Mazda MX-5 RF on display in a world premiere at the New York International Auto Show
  • To be available in Machine Grey, a new premium colour designed for KODO exteriors

New York, 22 March 2016. Mazda revealed the Mazda MX-5 RF (“retractable fastback”) today on the eve of the New York International Auto Show. The latest version of the legendary sports car offers a new dimension of open-top driving fun while at the same time staying true to the purpose of Mazda’s previous retractable hardtop MX-5: Making the roadster experience accessible to a broader range of drivers.

In doing so, Mazda has broken with conventional thinking to create something entirely new. Featuring fastback styling with a smooth roofline that slopes down to the rear, the MX-5 RF’s unique rear roof and retractable back window deliver a distinctive new convertible feeling.

The power roof opens and closes with the press of a button while moving at speeds of up to 10km/h. The roof itself stows away compactly and efficiently: Despite the sleek design, the MX-5 RF offers the same boot space as the soft-top model. Also like the soft-top, the new version will be available in Europe with a choice of two revvy petrol engines – the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 and SKYACTIV-G 2.0 – mated either to a delightfully crisp shifting six-speed SKYACTIV-MT gearbox or – exclusively for the MX-5 RF – a six-speed automatic.

Another highlight of the MX-5 RF is the selection of body colours. They include Machine Grey, a new premium colour specially designed to accentuate the subtle yet dynamic surfaces of Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion exteriors. Developed in the belief that colour is one of the elements of form, Machine Grey expresses the beauty of a machine’s strength and precision. By intensifying the contrast between light and shadow with a sleek, high-density finish, it gives the impression that the vehicle’s body was sculpted from a solid block of steel.

Paint application is crucial here. Mazda progressed its Takuminuri painting technology originally created for Soul Red, Mazda’s first premium colour, to achieve a precise, high-quality finish that looks as if it were hand-painted by a master craftsman. The system uses a three-coat paint structure consisting of colour, reflective and clear coats. The reflective layer, which contains extremely thin, high-brightness aluminium flakes, shrinks during the drying process to about one-quarter the thickness of most reflective layers. This causes the flakes to lie flat with regular spacing between each flake for a high-density finish that gives the entire surface a sheen when illuminated and a genuine metallic look. Jet black pigment, meanwhile, is used in both the reflective and colour layers. It is visible through the spaces between the aluminium flakes, giving them a black hue and thus heightening the contrast. Machine Grey will be available on a range of Mazda models, including the all-new Mazda CX-9 slated to go on sale in North America this spring.

The MX-5 RF is on display at the New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public from 25 March to 3 April. Mazda is holding a press conference from 11:20-11:45am on 24 March, the second of two press days.

About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine. He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank. Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.