Mx5 RF is simply the perfect recipe

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Perfection by its very definition is faultless, like the Mazda MX-5, which has been getting it right since its debut at the Chicago Motor Show in 1989.The formula has been tweaked slightly over the four different generations, each with their own version of perfection. Now the people of Mazda have stepped out of their cabriolet safety net and have produced the stunning Mazda MX-5 RF, a Retractable Fastback, targa top version of the fourth-generation model. 

The RF features a three-piece power retractable roof that, when opened, leaves the rear buttressed section in place, giving the car a more butch look. When the RF comes to Ireland in early February, it will be available with the 1.5 (131bhp) engine, which is already available in the MX-5 Roadster, and the 160bhp 2.0 engine. 

The more powerful motor will be available in the GT grade and will feature a limited-slip differential and 17-inch wheels. The GT will also come with Bilstein dampers and a strut brace to further enhance the sporty set-up.Across the range, the MX-5 RF will feature alloy wheels, LED headlights, MZD connect, cruise control and automatic air conditioning.  

MX-5 RF GT models with the 1.5 litre engine will sport a stunning set of 16-inch gunmetal alloy wheels with piano black wing mirrors, while its big 2.0 litre brother has 17-inch bright alloys wheels and body-coloured wing mirrors. Both engines in the higher spec also feature rain-sensing wipers, rear-parking sensors, smart keyless entry, premium Bose® surround-sound and heated leather seats.

I had the pleasure of putting the 1.5 and the 2.0 through their paces up some narrow winding mountain roads outside Barcelona. 

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The RF felt as though it was on rails as we slithered through bend after bend, as the 1.5 litre engine sang and begged to be revved to the very peak of its range. The four cylinder 1.5-litre engine, with its 130bhp, is a blast for a high-revving hill climb, but its big brother really stole the show in terms of power and usability.  Some automotive hipsters will say that the 1.5 is the one to buy because too much power spoils the fun and simplicity of the MX-5. 

I, having lived with a 1.6-litre 1991 MX-5, know that in real life, if you are using the MX-5 every day, the smaller engine becomes tiring very quickly. 

 My 91 Mx5 - Eunos Roadster

My 91 Mx5 - Eunos Roadster

Imagine you’re trying to merge on to the M50 and there’s no decent gap, well the 2.0 will allow you to simply put your boot down and carry on, without the pantomime and stress of caning a 1.5 to within an inch of its life every time you feel like joining a fast-moving road. It also must be noted that convertibles can be a loud, windswept affair, but you don’t get as shaken or stirred with the roof open in the Fastback, compared to its cabriolet Roadster cousin. 

I’m trying to write this piece without sounding like a gushing fan-boy, but that is exactly what I am. The RF’s styling is simply stunning, to call it a ‘head-turner’ is an understatement, as the curves and lines, exaggerated by the partially-enclosed cockpit and long bonnet, give the car a fashionably retro 1970s profile. The RF’s boot is large enough at 127 litres for two carry-on-luggage bags and the folding roof doesn’t go into the boot, so you can pack up for a weekend away and take the roof down without having to put bags on your lap. 

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The 1.5 litre RF produces 141 CO2, gets 6.1litre/100km and goes from 0-100kph in 8.6 seconds, while the 2.0 produces 161 CO2, gets a slightly worse 6.9litre/100km and goes from 0-100kph in a very respectable 7.4 seconds. The 1.5 starts at €31,495 and the road tax will cost €390; the price jumps to €33,695 for the RF-GT and then on again to €33,995 for the RF-GT with tan leather interior. The 2.0 RF GT will be retailing in Ireland for €36,695 and road tax will set you back €570 a year, while the version with tan leather interior will be an extra €300 at €36,995. 

The MX-5’s playfulness and ability to make even the crankiest journalist grin like a 10-year-old at a free ice cream party, means that I can’t imagine there being too many bad reviews for the new RF.

Morgan Flanagan Creagh

Sunday World