Open top fun with Mazda
When the MX 5 Miata was introduced in 1989, Mazda brought back the 60’s style retro European drop top motoring to the modern age. The 2017 version is the second member of the current generation Miata roadster and it embodies the brand’s driver focused technologies. Dubbed as the RF or Retractable Fastback, this current generation Miata is the only convertible in the Mazda line-up. Designed originally as a soft top convertible, the Miata RF now offer a power folding hardtop which can be retracted at a push of a button in 13 seconds. It takes up no more room when stowed than the base Miata’s soft top does, so trunk space is not affected. With its electric motors, linkages and panels, the Miata RF weighs a bit more than the base Miata. Instead of the having the entire roof disappearing into the bodywork, only the overhead roof panel and rear window disappears and you’re good to go.
This writer sampled the open top driving mode up in the hills of Tanay, Rizal going to Quezon for a day trip visit at a friend’s farm. Once I got into the town proper of Infanta, a push of a button protected me from the pollutants emanating from the exhausts of overloaded jeepneys and unruly tricycles.
Aside from the retractable hardtop, the Miata brings to the fight a 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-four producing 148 lb-ft of torque driving the rear wheels and is matted to a six-speed automatic transmission. Although a bit less powerful than the previous generation, the current Miata RF compensates for a decrease in horsepower by dumping 150 pounds of body weight which drastically improves its power to weight ratio. It accelerates and takes fast corners with relative ease. The MX-5 RF also serves up plenty of grip, so you don’t feel afraid to use all its performance on the road. Compared with most similarly priced front-wheel drive hot hatches, the MX-5 RF is a much more involving, playful-feeling car.
It also sips gas like a camel which is a major plus for people who curse the high heavens every time fuel prices go up. Another plus factor for this pocket rocket is the soft ride, which is a contrast to its rivals such as the Toyota 86 and the Lotus Exige. It’ll soak up speed bumps and stays pretty settled even over awkward cambers in the road. In fact, the Miata pretty much absorbs whatever the road can throw at it, from potholes, uneven cracks and the rippled sections along Marcos Highway here in Antipolo, the RF generally manages to deal with it quite comfortably. The ride is commendable despite the large size wheel combo that comes with the stock roadster.
The Miata’s cabin is well equipped, with the infotainment system easily controlled by a rotary switch and shortcut buttons in front of the gear shifter. The MX-5 RF’s low-set seat has a standard tilt-adjustable base that is a really welcome addition, but it has no height adjustment, so don’t invite Le Bron James out for an evening run at McDonald’s. The steering wheel only adjusts up and down – there’s no reach adjustment – and the pedals are slightly offset to the right. Having said all that, I still felt comfortable in the snug seat.
The Mazda RF is a small car, so if you’re tall enough to join a basketball team, better try getting into one first. Leg room is a tight also and even average Joe’s like me is brushing my head at the roof already. Also forget about storage space because the rear cubby space between the seats is not even big enough to fit an iPAD. The trunk can’t even fit an extra large 22-inch pizza! Well, it’s a two-seater, what do you expect right?
My test unit was the top spec version which had a Nappa Leather interior, drabbed in an exclusive Machine Gray exterior color and priced at P2,250,000. A standard version can be snapped up at P2.1M, making this roadster a bit pricier than the Toyota 86 at P1.8M which offers rear seating for kids. Would I buy one? Yes because it is an everyday two-seater which is comfortable to drive, with a fuel economy rating that most Ilocanos like me would appreciate. Also, It’s a Miata for Pete’s sake!