Johannesburg - Mazda’s fourth-generation MX-5 roadster is joined in South Africa this week by its folding-hardtop sibling, the MX-5 RF.

RF stands for Retractable Fastback, and it’s an interesting way to make the world’s most successful roadster ever more accessible to drivers who like the idea of a nippy little two-seater but who don’t want to go the hard-core ragtop route.

So the new MX-5 has a one-piece metal targa top that disappears under the rear deck in just 13 seconds at the press of a button, at up to 10 km/h, leaving the buttresses that form the fastback section standing to create a silhouette reminiscent of the original Porsche 911 Targa, but with the rear window also open and without the hassle of having to get out and do it yourself.

There’s even an animated graphic display in the instrument cluster that shows you where the roof is in its cycle without having to look up over your shoulder. And when it’s closed, says Mazda, the inside of the car is as quiet as if it’s a fixed-head coupé.

Refined ride

When it’s down, the roof sits flat on top of the bulkhead between the cockpit and the boot; it doesn’t protrude into the boot volume and luggage capacity is reduced by only three litres, from 130 to 127 litres.

The steering and and suspension have been smoothed out for a more refined ride, but the two litre petrol four is the same as that of the roadster at 118kW and 200Nm. However, the MX-5 RF is available only with a six-speed automatic transmission, which says more about the target market than it does about the car.

Satnav is standard on this upwardly mobile MX-5, as are leather trim, auto aircon, adaptive headlights, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring.The MX-5 RF sells for R532 800 (R91 200 more than the roadster!) which includes a three-year, unlimited distance warranty and a three-year service plan. Availability is very limited, Mazda has also set up a special MX-5 RF launch microsite, so you can go online and book your RF directly, in the colour of your choice, before they even arrive in showrooms - and before they’re all gone.

IOL Motoring

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