The Mazda MX-5 with fixed roof has a new name. RF is now the name for the hardtop variant. The abbreviation stands for Retractable Fastback, in German "retractable hatchback". What is meant by this becomes clear when the roof is opened. Then, similar to the Porsche Targa, the rear roof part moves back a little and the two upper pieces of the three-part hood, together with the rear window, lie behind a cover behind the rear seats. When the roof has disappeared, the hatchback-style coupé becomes a roadster with a special look, as the rear roof section moves back to its original position and the side fins remain as slender columns.
Especially from behind, the RF, which is at least 29.890 Euro and 160 PS strong, cuts a good figure and differs considerably, both closed and open, from the two-seater with the fabric cap. With speed 10, the MX-5 can roll spectacular maneuvers for the 13 seconds. In practice, this means in principle that it only works when standing. For safety reasons only, as one manufacturer's engineer emphasizes. The construction is complex, but only weighs 45 kilograms and does not take up any extra space from the trunk. Its volume remains the same as for the variant with the soft top at 127 liters.
When driving open, an acrylic wind deflector holds the drafts behind the headrests. However, the wind is still noticeable, although not quite like in a thoroughbred roadster. If the hardtop arches over the narrow passenger compartment, as usual, the locking takes place automatically on the windscreen frame, unlike before. When designing the roof, the developers paid particular attention to distributing the additional weight correctly. While the front element is made of aluminum, the middle, very narrow piece is made of steel. A technician explains that additional weight near the center of gravity has the least impact on driving dynamics. The moving part at the rear is made of fiber composite plastics.
In addition to the weight, the designers also paid attention to noise insulation. The solid elements are covered in three layers of fabric to keep road and wind noise out of the interior. Of course, this is not entirely possible, but much better than with the soft top.
Mazda sees the MX-1.120 version with the fixed roof, which is only 5 kilograms light, a clear gain for year-round suitability. The manufacturer believes that the and the unusual lines are important criteria for making the Roadster interesting for new customer groups. Additional insulation was also installed on the rear wheel arches, door panels, center tunnel and engine compartment. All this provides more comfort than the predecessor with a fixed roof.
Mazda only offers the 2.0-liter petrol engine with 118 kW / 160 hp for the drive in Germany. An engine that shows itself to be easy to turn, powerful and powerful and with its robust sound it fits perfectly with the character of the sporty two-seater. The six-speed transmission with short distances can be shifted smoothly and, above all, precisely. As an alternative, a six-speed automatic can also be ordered for an MX-5 in Europe for the first time. It not only changes the speed levels almost imperceptibly, but also has a sport mode - then it goes pretty bitingly forward - and it can also be operated manually.
Those who opt for the Sportsline variant (32.090 Euro) not only get a start-stop system, but also the condenser-based braking energy recovery system, called Mazda i-Eloop. This version also includes a navigation system with real-time traffic information, the Bose sound system with speakers in the headrests, and safety systems such as high-beam and lane change assistants and a parking aid.
The RF is generally equipped with a chassis designed primarily for sporty driving. This means that the roadster, which is still driven via the rear axle, whirls around the corners like a go-kart and easily stays on track. It gets even crisper and more direct when the sports package (1.800 Euro), which is only available for the Sports Line version, is installed with a sports suspension including Bilstein shock absorbers. Then the MX-5 drives noticeably more agile, if necessary it goes even more dynamically through tight switchbacks.
Heated leather seats with red topstitching are also available as standard in the Exclusive Line equipment offered as the basic version (29.890 Euro and thus 2.700 Euro more expensive than the comparable variant with soft top) as well as a seven-inch color display on the dashboard as the control center for infotainment, telephone connection and navigation system. The systems can be selected while driving either with the rotary pushbutton on the center console or by voice control. The screen can only be used as a touchscreen when it is stationary. As in the speed limit for opening and closing the roof, Mazda also cites the safety aspect as a reason. (Wolfgang Schaffer)