2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF ("Retractable Fastback") is the second member of the current generation of Miata roadster, which was redesigned just last year. Instead of the Miata RF's entire roof disappearing into the bodywork as you might expect, only its overhead roof panel and rear window retract. That is, the Miata RF's bodywork buttresses and horizontal bar behind the passengers remain in place at all times. Though this fixed bodywork means that the Miata RF doesn't deliver quite the same open-air experience as the regular Miata, in return you get a distinct new style for this diminutive two-seat sports car.
The Miata RF's roof stows at the touch of a button in about 14 seconds and can be operated at speeds up to 6 mph. It takes up no more room when stowed than the base Miata's soft top does, so trunk space is not affected. With its electric motors, linkages and panels, however, the Miata RF weighs about 150 pounds more than the base Miata.
What's new for 2017
Mazda's terrific manual gearbox is the easy choice over the optional automatic transmission. It's among the slickest-shifting manuals out there, and besides, this is a sports car. As a bonus, pairing a manual to the Club version — and only the Club version — bestows the car with a sport-oriented suspension, Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential, underscoring the car's sporting nature. The Miata RF comes pretty well equipped as standard, and options are few. Skip the pricey Brembo brakes, but spring for keyless entry as a very inexpensive way to gain convenience.
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is available in two trim levels: Club and Grand Touring. We prefer the Club for its available sport-oriented hardware, although buyers seeking more comfort and amenities will gravitate toward the Grand Touring's longer list of convenience features. Both trim levels are equipped with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (155 horsepower, 148 pound-feet of torque) and are available with a manual or automatic transmission.
Manual-equipped Club models are the sportiest, gaining a retuned suspension, Bilstein dampers, limited-slip differential and shock tower brace, making it our version of choice. Brembo front brakes and BBS wheels are optional on Club models only, though the bang-for-the-buck quotient on these bits is questionable.
Grand Touring models — equipped with heated leather seats, navigation, a cloth-lined top, automatic climate control, adaptive headlights and lane departure warning — skew toward the luxury end. These features are nice to have but strike us as being at odds with the Miata's elemental nature. Then again, a power-folding top isn't exactly simple either. Still, at least there's a choice between sport-oriented and comfort-tuned versions, rather than some middling compromise between the two.
Noise & vibration
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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