The Mazda MX-5 Miata was all-new for the 2016 model year with updated styling and a roomier interior, but it was still limited to only a soft top. Now Mazda is introducing the MX-5 Miata RF to give buyers a hardtop version of everyone’s favorite roadster.
People love the Miata. It’s cute and fun and affordable. If you’re someone who loves to drive, then you will not be disappointed. If you live someplace where the weather isn’t always worthy of dropping the top, well, you might love the Miata, but it can be hard to rationalize. Adding a hardtop to the mix makes it an easier decision.
The hardtop, or retractable fastback (RF), helps keep the cold at bay and makes for a quieter ride when the top is up. It’s all well and good to have the wind whipping through your hair making conversation impossible when the convertible top is down, but when it’s up it’s nice to have a little calm and quiet. That’s exactly what you get with the new MX-5 Miata RF.
It still looks like a Miata with that wide, low body, but the fastback roofline gives it a bit of an edge. The soft top is cute. The hardtop is its sexier cousin. Open or close that roof in only 13 seconds at speeds up to 6 mph with the press of a button. No matter which Miata you choose, you still get the superior handling for which this car is known. You will find yourself taking the long way home on the most twisting road possible just for fun.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, but purists will tell you there’s only one way to drive a Miata. They’re right. This car is all the reason you will ever need to learn to drive a manual transmission.
Mazda aimed for the same driving experience in both hardtop and soft top versions of the Miata and they succeeded. Adjustments to the suspension and steering compensate for the extra weight in the hard top so it doesn’t feel like a heavier car. There is a slight difference, but unless you plan on driving the soft top and hardtop back-to-back everyday, it’s nearly impossible to tell.
Despite how fantastic it is to sit behind the wheel of the Miata MX-5 RF, it shares a few drawbacks with the soft top. High on the list of concerns is space. Taller passengers will find it tight without much room for their knees. There’s also no glove box. Instead, there’s a cubby between the rear seats that is small and awkward to access
Trunk space is also at a premium. There’s 4.48 cubic feet in the trunk, which is only slightly less than the 4.59 found in the soft top. You’re not bringing a set of golf clubs or a suite of luggage along for the ride either way.
Even with those issues, the Miata MX-5 RF is a fabulous roadster. You’re not buying it to haul the family on vacation or ferry building supplies from the local hardware store. You’re buying it because it’s a truly joyous car to drive, practicality be darned.
The MX-5 Miata RF is available in only Club or Grand Touring trims. The Club ($31,555) is the performance choice and is the only way you can get the $3,400 Brembo/BBS Brake package. Those with plans for track days will want to look at the Club.
If you’re more concerned with luxury, then take a closer look at the Grand Touring ($32,620). This adds heated leather seats, navigation, lane departure warning, and high beam control. If you want to extend the number of days when you can drive with the top down, then those heated seats will do the trick.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata continues to steal the hearts of driving enthusiasts no matter where the live. The new hard top RF makes it that much easier for those who live in colder climes to happily give their hearts away.