By Daryl Killian

Six-Figure Cachet for $30-something K!

Yes….until Mazda gets a few more of their brand-new Miata retractable fastback hardtops on the road, count on drawing a crowd when you park…and thumbs-ups at red lights.


Being brand-new, and having a different profile from the base Miata soft top, many people aren’t sure what the MX-5 RF actually is.


Guesses ranged from Porsche to Ferrari to some kind of baby Z to “I just don’t know”.


The Miata convertible was re-designed last year, and it took another year to tackle the hardtop.   Last year’s hardtop completely retracted.   The ’17 is different.  A 22” panel on the roof simply retracts along with the rear window…leaving the Targa-type roll bar and a rear “breeze-blocker”.


The whole operation takes less than 15 seconds, and can occur at speeds up to 6 mph.   Look up from the drivers’ seat, and all you’ll see are open skies.


What’s the difference in cost between the RF and the standard soft top?   The quiet, convenience, and safety of going retractable will run around $6,600 more.

Somehow, no trunk space is sacrificed.


And for those who may be concerned about any performance loss due to the extra weight of the retracting mechanism, the RF adds no more weight than some of us need to take off of our waistline….a mere 64 pounds more.


But let me just stop right here for a moment and ask this one question….do you really love to drive?    If so, keep reading….but if not, there’s plenty of other ways to look good behind the wheel for around $35,000.


All I’m sayin’ is that Mazda’s MX-5 Miata is a true drivers’ car….and if you don’t really enjoy the act of driving, forget it.    Whether in soft-top or RF trim the MX-5 is on the small side…no behind-the-seat storage except for three rather unusual glove boxes behind the two passenger seats.


My six-foot frame fit fine, but those a couple inches more blessed may not be quite so comfy.  And the trunk looks like a couple of good-sized carry-ons would pretty well max it out.


And it’s  more noisy than a Lexus…and a little rougher riding, too.


But hey….if you break out into a big grin when you have an open road ahead and a  steering wheel in your hands, you might want to find a way to put one of these in your garage.   If not as a primary ride, at least as your “weekend car”.   It’s just that much fun.   Waterbug handling…great brakes…and just enough power to get you into trouble.


Mazda’s RF starts with “Club” trim starting in the low $30’s.   You’ll get a 2.0 liter, 155 HP four and either a 6-speed manual or auto.    The auto is just $730 more.

155 HP may not sound like overkill, but remember… it’s moving less than 2,500 pounds.  This is a real athlete.    YOUR weight might even have an impact on the Miata’s performance J


In Club trim, the MX-5 RF offers 17” dark alloys, Bilstein shocks, 9-speaker Bose audio, Blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alerts and black cloth seating with red trim.


“Grand Touring” trim is a bargain at just over a $1,000 more….adding heated leather, nav, lane-departure warning, “Mazda-connect”, easy-entry and auto hi-beams.


With special “Soul Red” paint and a couple of minor options, our test Miata MX-5 RF came in with a sticker just a hair over $35,000.


Mileage is rated at 26 city and 35 highway….and that’s exactly what we got….making it easy to justify to your significant other that you just bought the Miata as an economy car.


Just one word of warning, tho’.  I can almost guarantee that you’ll have one regret if you buy one of these.    If you’re like me, you’ll start wishing that you owned your own private race track.

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