So it was a surprise when the new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF – retractable fastback – drove onto the stage sporting wild buttresses and a hide-away targa roof panel.
The buttresses lift up and swallow the rear window and roof panel in a matter of seconds, and then the buttresses snug back down. This leaves a hoop spanning the buttresses, but at least it's done up in black to be less visually apparent. The result is more of a targa roof experience, rather than the previous PRHT which gave occupants essentially the same experience as the soft-top with the top down.
No matter. The result is stunning, and will differentiate the RF even more from the standard MX-5. Mazda designers took extra care to make sure the interface between the MX-5's dramatic fenders and the trailing edges of the roof support provided enough visual drama. Mission accomplished, we'd say. We can't take our eyes off that part of the car.
As you might expect, mechanical changes seem to be minor, although we'll be asking for detailed specs. Both the 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines will be available globally, but only the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine will be sold in the US. The roof can be operated at up to 6.2 mph. Mazda claims the truck space is unaltered from the soft-top model. We don't yet know how much, if any, the RF's mechanism adds to the bantamweight roadster, nor the premium it'll command. Expect those details closer to launch.