One of the grandest qualities of Mazda as an automaker is its capacity to surprise with cars and technologies that are unique within the automotive industry. Think of the legendary Cosmo, the first-generation RX-7, the excellent and super-popular Mazda Miata/MX-5, or even the company’s rotary engine that propelled it to victory at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Focus on the Mazda MX-5 RF
The new Mazda MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback) is a full-blown personification of Mazda’s philosophy, and a smashing success for its design studio, which took inspiration from the small Italian and British sport coupes that beautified the 1960s and 1970s. Its reveal has been greeted with an avalanche of accolades, notably the ultimate industry recognition, the Red Dot Award : Best of the Best award presented in Germany in early April.

The press presentation for the MX-5 RF gave us an insight into the marketing approach the company has created for it, particularly as it relates to the convertible base model with which it shares all the major components. Mazda wants to target a more traditional clientele, one looking for a detachable-roof coupe for greater security and more protection from the wind. According to research carried out by the automaker, the MX-5 RF will be driven by an older clientele apt to use it on a daily basis – 70% of that with the roof up. In the case of the MX-5 that percentage is reversed, most of the driving being done with the top down, on weekends; often it’s the owner’s second car.

All of which is to say that the average driver of a Mazda MX-5 RF is likely a professional living in an urban setting, who’s looking for distinctive styling and loves to drive. Gender and age are unimportant, as this typical driver is young in spirit in any case.

On the road
At the start of our road test downtown and on the boulevard that took us out of the city, we left the roof in place. Before turning onto the country road that was to be our playground behind the wheel of the MX-5 RF, we took down the top; in the evening, when we drove through the city to the restaurant we’d picked out, the roof was again tucked away, noise and heat levels being more reasonable at that time of day.

The Mazda MX-5 is a genuine pleasure to drive. Though its 2.0L engine delivers only 155 hp, acceleration is more than sufficient. What’s more, both the manual and automatic transmissions do exemplary work. The small rear-wheel drive roadster also offers peerless stability on the road, not to mention very precise steering and excellent braking. Clearly, anyone who has the opportunity to try out this car on a winding road will do it with a big grin locked on their face!

To sum up…
The ultimate incarnation of the design philosophy of a roadster, the Mazda MX-5 RF is small, lightweight and easy to handle, to which you can add Mazda’s reputation for excellent reliability, an interior whose finish and presentation is beyond reproach and a trunk that can accommodate a reasonable amount of luggage (volume is equal to that of the MX-5).

There’s no denying that acquiring an MX-5 RF falls into the category of an emotional purchase, like that beautiful pair of Italian shows you might not need but really want. In a world where choices are so often dictated by reason, it’s a spoil-yourself moment. So we invite you to check out this gorgeous video of the MX-5 RF darting through the streets of London; see if you can resist its many charms…

Beautiful design
Impressive driving pleasure
Very good road handling overall
Solid, high-quality construction
Exceptional interior finishes and presentation
Known for its reliability and resale value

Engine could do with a little more power
Smallish trunk
Elevated pricing, especially for the GT version (close to $45,000)
Suspension is sometimes dry