Drive Time: Miata turns racy with RF edition
May 5, 2017
Recently off the assembly line in Hiroshima, Japan, the RF launch edition of the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata hit town last week.
It's like no other Miata. Only 1,000 were built for the U.S., and all are sold.
Finished in machine gray metallic paint, its racy lines rival those of European sports cars.
Most prominent among changes are rear pillars which remain in place with the top up or down.
Unlike the regular Miata in which the entire soft top folds out of sight, the RF's rear pillars lift while the metal targa-type top is dropped, then they all lower into place. The upright C pillars lend a new look to the Miata RF, whether the top is open or closed.
The retractable performance is precise and show-worthy, as the rear lifts while the middle of the roof and rear window slip backward beneath the pillars, then the layers drop into place, all this consuming 13 seconds. The top opens or closes at the touch of a switch.
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Of course, the pillars block rearward vision, and there is no backup camera for the Miata, so the sideview mirrors are important in backing and for blind-spot situations.
Mazda's SkyActiv 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission provide the get-up-and-go for the RF. Horsepower and torque are rated at a mild level of 155 and 148 pound-feet, respectively; yet, the little sports car weighs in at a light 2,445 pounds. The low-slung car is nimble and sporty. As the revs go high, stay a notch lower with the gears, ignore the noisy engine output and enjoy the drive.
The RF performed very impressively through some rural roadways west of Greeley, before Jan and I rolled into Windsor from the west. I parked outside the new Robin's Nest at House of Windsor on Main Street, and we joined Keith Brumley inside for coffee. Robin Netzel was formerly associated with Rocky Mountain Redline, one of three agencies that provide new cars from U.S. manufacturers to me and others for review. Grand opening of Robin's Nest was Monday. During our stop on Wednesday, we visited with Robin's mother, Nancy, and her mother-in-law, Lisa, both of whom work with Robin in the business.
Most of my driving with the RF was down the highway and over rural roadways; the result was a high fuel-mileage average of 32.5. EPA estimate for the little car is 26 in town and 33 on the highway. The two-door rode on Bridgestone Potenza 205/45R17 tires.
The driver sits secure and comfortable in the leather-trimmed sport seats. Space is so tight, the cupholders are positioned far back between the seatbacks. To reach one, I stretched my left arm around my body and beneath my right arm. Trunk space is only 4 ½ cubic feet.
Wheelbase for the Miata is a short 90.9 inches, with overall length of 154.1 inches.
Sticker price on the Miata RF, including a Bose audio system with nine speakers, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, navigation and 7-inch color touchscreen display, is $33,885.
With the gray launch edition models sold out, a regular RF is being produced and sold in a variety of colors — red, white, white pearl, ceramic, blue and black, in addition to gray.
The popular, little Miata has been part of the U.S. automotive scene since 1990.
Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.