By: Dave Abrahams

New York Motor Show - The latest version of Mazda's long-running MX-5 roadster takes us back to the 1970s 'targa top' era, but with a twist. Literally.

It's called the MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback) and it features a pair of long rear buttresses for an authentic fastback profile, with a vertically mounted (a la Ferrari Dino) rear window between them and a removable roof just like the iconic Porsche 911 Targa.

But here's the twist: At the push of a button (at up to 10km/h) the roof lifts, swivels through 90 degrees and slides down into the space normally used to stow the MX-5's traditional, manually operated, soft top. Push another button and the rear window retracts, leaving you with just the section between the buttresses as a built-in roll bar.

And the boot space is exactly the same as that of the fourth-generation conventional ragtop, whether the roof is up or down.

Mazda scores a bullseye with MX-5

The MX-5 RF will be available in Europe with either a 1.5 or 2-litre SkyActiv-G petrol four and the standard six-speed manual or (available only on the RF) an optional six-speed automatic transmission, while only the bigger engine will be offered in North America.

Mazda SA is as yet unable to confirm the release timing, specification or pricing of the South African model. However, given that only the 118kW two-litre version of the conventional MX-5 is available here, we would expect the new RF to follow suit.

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