Back in April, Mazda stunned the sports car world by releasing the MX-5 Miata RF, or retractable fastback. It’s a beautiful car; so beautiful in fact, that it may or may not have caused some Autos Cheat Sheet staffers to gawk at it for so long at the release party that several Mazda staffers had to check on them to make sure they were alright. We then declared that it marked the beginning of Mazda’s having a major moment, and have since been counting down the days until we can put the targa-topped, buttress-backed Miata through its paces.
For years, Miata fans have longed for a hardtop version, especially after the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S hit the scene a few years ago. The RF is the best of both worlds; its fastback profile, hardtop, and flying buttresses are reminiscent of classic Ferraris, or even the Ford GT. But its unique retractable hardtop is similar to the on found on the Porsche 911 Targa, and gives the classic open-top Miata experience. But there’s a cool twist: Its rear glass retracts along with the roof giving the RF a unique open profile.
And now, as Mazda is having its big moment (seriously, it has one of the best lineups in the business), we know exactly when the RF’s moment is going to be, and just what it will be capable of. The hardtop Miata will reach dealers when that extra steel matters most: In the first quarter of 2017 when there’s still snow on the ground in most states.
The first 1,000 cars will be labeled MX-5 RF Launch Edition, and will likely be snapped up by collectors. The special edition cars will feature exclusive Machine Gray Metallic paint with a contrasting hand-painted black roof panel. Inside, the seats and panel trim are wrapped in a rich Auburn Nappa leather, to offset the familiar black Miata interior. To top it off, Launch Edition buyers will also receive a limited edition Tourneau watch to compliment their car. Considering that both McLaren and Aston Martin have done this with special edition models in the past, it’s a pretty cool move that we hope other automakers start borrowing.
While a black roof, Auburn Nappa hides, and Machine Gray Metallic will be available on regular production run vehicles (expected to hit dealers later in the quarter), they won’t be available together once the first 1,000 cars are sold. So if you want one, start reaching out to your local Mazda dealer now, because we don’t expect these to last long.
Power in the RF comes from the Miata’s standard 2.0 liter four that puts out 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, mated to either Mazda’s Skyactiv MT six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic transmission. While the car benefits from a differently-tuned suspension and power steering system, it will likely offer the same world-class handling that we’ve come to expect from the Miata, but with a quieter, more weather-proof cabin that’s easier to live with year-round.
So on top of fielding one of the best roadsters in the world, Mazda is just months away from releasing a coupe that could make a huge splash in climates that aren’t necessarily sports car friendly. The Miata may be one of the best all-around sports cars in the world, but with the RF, Mazda may also have the best year-round sports car.