2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF first drive review: the Miata coupe (targa?) we've always wanted Page 2


Sure, the top mechanism is cool, but I’d prefer one that stowed away completely, like Mazda offered for the last-generation (NC) Miata. I’d rather not pay more for a power hardtop that takes away from the top-down driving experience. And Mazda didn’t need to exacerbate the issue by not offering the base model for the RF.

My test vehicle was an RF Grand Touring with a base price of $32,620. Add in the $300 special paint fee for the Soul Red Metallic paint, $130 for keyless ignition, and the $835 delivery fee and the total came to $33,885. That’s not astronomical, but it’s starting to move away from the bargain pricing that the Miata is known for.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Enlarge Photo
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Enlarge Photo
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Enlarge Photo
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Enlarge Photo

Good news otherwise

As far as the rest of the driving experience goes, the Miata RF is a virtual clone of the fantastic Miata roadster. Sure it adds 113 pounds to the weight, but without driving them back to back, I detect very little difference. Perhaps the ride is a bit more prone to pounding over bumps, but this car is still a flyweight at 2,445 pounds. It still handles like a dream. It still provides excellent steering feedback. It still leans a little bit more than you might expect, then takes a set and carves a tight line through curves. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine still revs easily and gets this pocket joymobile going quicker than it seems it should. The tidy little gear lever still shifts with snick-snick precision. Bottom line, this car still brings a smile to your face every time you get behind the wheel.

An emotional choice

The choice to buy an RF over a standard Miata roadster will be purely emotional. If you prefer the top-up coupe-like look of the RF over the roadster, and can live with the rear vision issue, the extra expense, and the somewhat odd top-down look, I say go for it. And I can’t blame you. The sleek lines can be too alluring to resist, and the foul weather protection has its appeal, too. Plus, the driving experience is a blast no matter which version you choose. Just like the Miata roadster, the Miata RF is a warm muffin basket made just for you and delivered by happy little woodland creatures.


 
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