This year, we've got a new twist on the successful Mazda Miata story. The Miata has had a retractable hardtop version for a while now, and the old hardtop convertible was a great Miata. But where the old hardtop looked and operated like the convertible version, the Miata RF (for Retractable Fastback) is an entirely different idea. With the RF, there's a structure behind the driver's head that lifts up to fold the roof away, and then comes back down to keep the wind buffeting under control.
The result is a Miata that you can use as a cozy and dry hardtop sports car through the Portland winter, but in just twelve seconds you can change it into an enjoyable open sports car. It's perfect for Portland sun breaks.
Apart from the retractable top, the Miata RF is the same as a standard soft-top Miata. Which is to say, it's got the same peppy 2.0-liter engine, rated at 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Mazda gives you a choice between a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic costs a little more, but it's a nice unit, and gives you a couple extra MPG on the highway.
With the RF body, you can choose between the Club or Grand Touring trim levels. Club is for more sport-oriented driving, while Grand Touring is more luxurious. It's about $1,000 more for the Grand Touring trim, and it's worth it. I love a precise handling sports car and even I think the Club suspension is a little too stiff for everyday use. If you're doing track days, choose Club. If not, choose Grand Touring.
With the Grand Touring trim, you'll also get some nice comfort items like heated leather seats, GPS navigation, and some extra safety and assistance features including lane departure warning, adaptive front lighting, and automatic high beams. If you choose Club trim, you'll trade the luxury and safety assistance items for a limited slip differential, special Bilstein shock absorbers, chassis braces, a front air dam and a rear lip spoiler.
Both trims offer you the Mazda Connect infotainment and smartphone integration system, with a Bose 9-speaker sound system. You'll also enjoy LED headlights, 17-inch wheels and the Miata driving experience.
Speaking of that driving experience, if you like driving a sports car, you'll love the latest Miata. Running up through the gears will put a grin on your face, and the engine is smooth and eager to sprint. The steering and balance of the car is unparalleled. If you've ever wondered about a Miata, I strongly encourage you to head to the nearest Mazda dealer and take a test drive. But I will also warn you that if you take that test drive, bring your checkbook because you won't want to go home without a Miata of your own.
2017 Mazda Miata RF Grand Touring
Base price: $33,495
Price as tested: $33,795
Type: Retractable hardtop sports car
Engine: 2.0-liter inline 4 (155 hp, 148 lbs-ft)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual or automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 26/33
Overall length: 154.1 inches
Curb weight: 2,445 pounds
Final assembly: Hiroshima, Japan