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Mazda starts production of its MX-5 RF folding hard-top

By raccars Published

Mazda MX5 RF

Hard-top Mazda sports car will go on sale early next year with prices starting at £22,195.

Production has started of the Mazda MX-5 RF, complete with electric hard-top. It will be available to buy from March 4, 2017, for £22,195 upwards.

Only 500 of the limited edition Mazda models will be available and at the top of the new range will be the Launch Edition car; a 2.0 model costing £28,995. This will have BBS alloy wheels, a two-tone roof, black rear spoiler, black door mirrors, Recaro seats, Alcantara trim and a safety pack as standard.

There will also be a 1.5-litre car available to buy from May 2017, which will be very similar to the convertible version, and an automatic model is also planned. A 1.5 SE-L Nav will cost from £22,195 and the cheapest 2.0 car will be the SE-L Nax, with a price tag of at least £23,095. Mazda will also offer Sport Nav models with upgraded suspension from £24,795.

The popularity of the Mazda RF

The Mazda MX-5 RF was first unveiled at the New York Motor Show and follows on from the previous-generation folding hardtop model. This made up 80 per cent of all MX-5 sales by 2014, when the Mk3 was phased out.

The new version is more radical, however, and it boasts a complex mechanism similar to the Porsche set-up in the newest 911 Targa. Nobuhiro Yamamoto, who is the program manager on the MX-5, said that work first started on the model eight years ago when the idea of a folding hard top version was initially introduced.

Two cars with two distinct characters

Yamamoto said that Mazda always wanted the soft top and the hard top version to have different characters, with the RF being slightly ‘more formal’ than the casual soft top. The RF’s interior also follows this theme with its new LCD dash display and slightly higher quality feel designed to give it that more formal appeal.

The designers at Mazda have also come up with new bodywork to give the RF a different rear and side profile compared to the regular version, further differentiating it from its stablemates. A dashboard switch activates electric motors to lift up a section of the bodywork at the back in a single piece to allow the car’s central roof section to be tucked away in as swift, safe and easy manner as possible.

The electric roof can operate at up to 6mph and it takes about 12 seconds to fold away completely. Yamamoto said that it was a priority to make the roof stow away easily without adding excess weight or an increase in wheelbase. The old hard-top MX-5 used to be 40kg heavier than the soft-top version and the new generation is also likely to be a little heavier, although official figures on weight have yet to be released by Mazda.

Extra features for the new Mazda folding hard-top

The company’s engineers investigated six- and eight-part roof mechanisms but eventually decided upon a four-part folding structure. Despite this intricate construction, the car retains the same boot capacity as the standard MX-5 and the back glass can be lowered while the roof is up to allow in additional air when required.

The RF’s power steering has been re-tuned to match the folding hard-top car’s balance and its suspension settings have been adjusted to take into account its extra weight and different character. It is the same width and length as the standard roadster, however, and the roofline is only 5mm higher.

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