Mazda MX-5 RF 8

Not a fan of the soft-top Mazda MX-5? Here’s an alternative. Prior to the start of the 2016 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), the Japanese company has revealed the Mazda MX-5 RF, essentially a hard-top targa version of the fourth-generation roadster.

The ‘RF’ in its name stands for retractable fastback, and as you can you tell, the car’s aesthetics have been revised to suit the part. The fastback styling is coupled with hinged rear pillars, a stowable middle section and rear window, making up the exterior changes. Everywhere else however, remains unchanged from the soft-top, including the KODO-influenced design.

However, unlike the manually-operated soft-top, the RF gets a powered hardtop. At a push of a button, the buttresses lift up to receive the rear window and roof panel in a matter of seconds. The powered roof can be operated at speeds of up to 10 km/h, and if you need that “wind in the hair” feeling, the back window is retractable as well.

If that isn’t enough, the RF still retains the same amount of trunk space as the soft-top version – 130 litres. Other bits retained here are the petrol SkyActiv-G engines in 1.5 and 2.0 litre configurations. Transmission options continue to be a SkyActiv-MT six-speed manual and SkyActiv-Drive six-speed auto.

The RF also debuts a new addition to Mazda’s line-up of premium body colours – Machine Grey, making it the second such offering after the iconic Soul Red. According to Mazda, achieving such a finish was only possible with hand-painted concept cars, using paint containing extremely thin aluminium flakes applied in multiple layers by master craftsmen.

With the development of its Takuminuri painting technology originally created for Soul Red, Mazda has made it possible to achieve the desired look on mass-production vehicles using a three-coat paint structure consisting of colour, reflective and clear coats.

Mazda MX-5 RF 3

The reflective layer contains extremely thin, high-brightness aluminium flakes and must be applied very precisely to ensure even coating. As the paint dries, this layer shrinks to approximately 2.5 microns, about one quarter the thickness of most reflective layers.

This process causes the aluminium flakes to lie flat with regular spacing between each flake. The resulting high-density finish gives the entire surface a sheen when illuminated, for a realistic metallic look.

What do you think about the new Mazda MX-5 RF? Do you think it looks better than its soft-top sibling? Let us know what you think in the comments below.