The Mazda MX-5 has always been the definitive expression of ‘Jinba Ittai’ - the concept of car and driver as one, and from the start the MX-5’s driver-focused cabin and communicative controls have been a big part of this focus on delivering driving pleasure.
Today, the Mazda MX-5 RF is more than ever built to feel like an extension of the driver. It retains the MX-5 convertible’s ergonomic simplicity but the power retractable hardtop offers the security and flexibility that make the MX-5 a feasible choice for customers deterred by a traditional soft-top.
The RF’s clever roof design features an exceptionally narrow mechanism, which has allowed Mazda’s designers to retain the taut exterior proportions and sleek cabin environment of the MX-5 convertible - a car that erases the boundaries between interior and exterior design with clever features like the body-coloured signature ridgeline that extends from the front wing past the screen and into the upper door trim – to link the interior and exterior from the drivers shoulder to the tip of the bonnet.
This sense of sophisticated quality and design symmetry continues with the sleek wing-like dash, which stretches out horizontally to create a sense of space, while the lower door panels seamlessly flow towards the front and rear of the cockpit. The quality and feel of the cabin materials, switchgear and fabrics set new standards, while in true lightweight sports car tradition, the compact and attractive three-spoke wheel is a joy to hold and use.
The elegant three-gauge analogue instrument cluster has satin chrome rings and is centredaround a large rev counter with the speedometer to the right and an information display on the left. Unique to the RF this left hand dial has a 4.6-inch high-resolution TFT screen that animates the roof operation movement, and when the roof is not moving shows engine temperature, fuel consumptions and compass information. This circular satin chrome trimmed theme extends to the air vents, engine start/stop button and the design of the tactile rotary air-conditioning dials, while the slender central air vent sits neatly alongside the hazard warning light switch.
When it comes to connectivity, the Mazda MX-5 RF benefits from Mazda’s MZD-Connect infotainment and integrated navigation system. All models feature DAB radio, Bluetooth® and cruise control, with 7-inch colour touch-screen display and Multimedia Commander.
The display is ergonomically positioned at the ideal height and distance from the driver, while the Multimedia Commander allows for the effortless control of the MX-5’s infotainment. Sport Nav models will appeal to music lovers thanks to the nine-speaker Premium Bose® sound system specially designed for an open-top roadster, featuring UltraNearfieldTM speakers in the driver and passenger headrests. Mazda’s integrated navigation system comes with 3-years of free European map updates.
With occupants of the MX-5 RF likely to spend plenty of time with the roof closed, Mazda’s engineers focused on delivering a cosseted coupe like cabin environment by ensuring refinement levels set new standards for this type of car. A three-layer headliner on the front and middle roof panels cuts road and wind noise, while further examples of the single-minded attention to refinement include sealing holes around the gearlever and adding noise and vibration dampening materials to rear wheel wells, door trim, body panels and transmission tunnel, plus even introducing floor mats with improved noise suppressing material.
Yet for all the RF’s premium equipment and improved quality, the spotlight on the driver and the creation of a complete sense of oneness with the car is as inviolable as ever. Despite being the most compact MX-5 ever made the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 has the best driving position yet, with more knee room and better head clearance. This is achieved thanks to improved packaging, which compared to the last-generation MX-5 Retractable Hard Top (RHT), sees a seat hip-point that’s lowered by 20mm, plus to increase the amount of knee room for the driver, the steering wheel diameter has been reduced by 4mm and an extra 10mm of tilt steering adjustment added.
As you’d expect for a sports car, the MX-5 RF’s driving position allows you to be completely harmonised with the car and the road. The pedals, wheel and dials are laid out in a single axis that centres the driver in perfect symmetry, while the throttle and brake pedal are aligned for heel-and-toe downshifts. An equal amount of work has gone into the design of the seats, which forgo the usual metal springs and urethane pads internals, to use a lighter net structure that reduces the amount of vibration transmitted to the occupant, at the same time as offering the support and comfort you’d expect. Equally important for a driver’s car, the MX-5 RF’s low bonnet, large windscreen and thin A-Pillars ensure visibility is excellent.
Unique to the RF is the use of a transparent acrylic aero board, which ensures rearward visibility is at the same level as the soft-top in spite of it being larger than the black lattice wind break in the convertible. This enlarged transparent deflector suppresses wind swirl entering the cabin by directing airflow outwards and increasing cabin air pressure compared to the soft top. The shape of the rear roof buttresses themselves also serve to ensure that, while the RF delivers the wind-in-your-hair experience you’d expect of a convertible buffeting is never an issue.
With generous standard equipment across the range the Mazda MX-5 RF delivers a new level of comfort, style and quality. SE-L Nav cars feature cruise control, Integrated Bluetooth®, climate control air-conditioning, headrest speakers, body coloured inner upper door trim and 7-inch colour touch-screen, while Sport Nav models add further luxuries including heated seats with leather trim and a Premium Bose® sound system, while high-class Nappa leather trim is a £400 option.