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New Mazda MX-5 RF priced from Β£22,195

New hard-top version of the Mazda MX-5 goes on sale in March 2017, and costs Β£3700 more than the soft-top

Words By Darren Moss

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The hard-top version of the Mazda MX-5, the MX-5 RF, will go on sale in the UK next March. It will rival the Toyota GT86 and Audi TT.

What is it?

The new Mazda MX-5 RF (which stands for Retractable Fastback), is the hard-top version of the latest MX-5 sports car. It’s expected to be the best-selling version of the MX-5 when it reaches this country because sales of the previous hard-top accounted for 80% of total sales in the UK.

Mazda has given the RF a unique look, characterised by a new rear deck, which gives the impression of a targa-style roof. This new rear deck is hinged, allowing the folding metal roof to be automatically deployed and stored at speeds of up to 6mph.

The roof is stored behind the rear seats rather than in the boot, so the amount of storage space available in the MX-5 RF matches the open-top car, at 130 litres - enough for some overnight luggage or a small weekly shop.

What engines can I choose from?

Engine options in the RF are the same as for the regular Mazda MX-5, with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol units the only choices. Despite an increase in weight, the RF’s performance isn’t expected to suffer too much. The 2.0-litre soft-top model can reach 62mph from a standing start in 7.3sec, with a top speed of 133mph. These more powerful models will be offered first, with 1.5-litre-engined cars coming in May 2017.

New for the RF is the addition of a six-speed automatic gearbox, which will be offered alongside a standard six-speed manual.

Mazda says it has also tuned the car’s suspension and steering systems especially for the RF, aiming to deliver a comfortable and refined ride. Extra insulation has also been added in an effort to reduce road noise.

What equipment does it come with?

When the car appears in dealerships there'll be a limited run of Launch Edition cars. Just 500 will be made, and each comes with a two-tone roof, BBS alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a black rear spoiler. It also comes with Mazda's Safety Pack as standard, as well as Alcantara trim and Recaro sports seats inside.

Non limited edition RFs will be offered in two trim levels: SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. We currently recommend SE-L on the regular MX-5, which gets you a colour touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, DAB, climate and cruise control, LED daytime running lights and an upgraded sound system over the SE.

How much does it cost?

The MX-5 RF costs from Β£22,195 in entry-level form - Β£3700 more than the soft-top MX-5. That’s still cheaper than key rivals, including the Toyota GT86, which starts from Β£22,495, and the Β£27,150 Audi TT.

With our preferred 2.0-litre engine and in SE-L Nav trim, the RF costs Β£23,095.

How good are its rivals?

The latest Audi TT is very well regarded by What Car?, achieving a five-star road test rating and being named as our favourite coupΓ© at the 2016 What Car? Awards. Toyota’s GT86, meanwhile, gets a three-star rating.

See our full video review of the Mazda MX-5 below.

Read more - our full Mazda MX-5 review

Read more - the best (and worst) convertibles of 2016


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