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Mazda above par with roadster coupe
Mazda above par with roadster coupe
Mazda above par with roadster coupe
Mazda above par with roadster coupe
Mazda above par with roadster coupe
Mazda above par with roadster coupe

Mazda above par with roadster coupe

Maxine Ashford, 2017-11-14

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WHOOSH - that was brilliant fun" - I claimed as I exited the latest Mazda MX-5 coupe cum convertible after a blast in the countryside and it was only as all the heads turned to face me that I realised I was speaking a little too loudly.

That's possibly down to the fact that the last hour had been spent whizzing round the twisting country lanes in the Cotswolds and despite it being early November with morning temperatures in single digits, I had spent that time with the roof down.

In fairness the sun was shining although not giving off that much warmth, but we Brits love our open-top driving and the MX-5 I was testing has a roof that could be automatically raised or lowered in 13 seconds at the flick of a switch at speeds up to 6mph.

It also featured a three-section retractable steel hardtop which means when closed, the MX-5 RF transforms into a very sleek coupe.

It's a car guaranteed to turn heads thanks to its beautiful profile, sporty lines, 17-inch bright alloys, body-coloured door mirrors, neat light clusters and muscular front haunches.

The interior is compact but perfectly proportioned with black leather seats featuring smart red contrast stitching.

Creature comforts included a premium Bose sound system with nine speakers, sat nav, smartphone connectivity, a seven-inch display screen, smart keyless entry, climate control, rain sensing wipers and all-important seat heaters.

The car was powered by Mazda's acclaimed 2.0-litre SKYACTIV technology petrol engine which delivers 160PS and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

And whilst the roof may be the show-stopper on the RF model (it stands for Retractible Fastback by the way), it's the MX-5's exhilarating performance and handling capabilities that never fail to impress.

The 0 to 62mph dash takes 7.4 seconds but feels much faster and the top speed is 134mph. But it's the manner in which this lean, mean two-seater machine handles that has made it such a firm favourite over the years.

Sometimes manufacturers make drastic changes to their cars and the character and driving enjoyment is lost along the way. Not so with the RF which almost matches its roadster sibling when it comes to driving dynamics and performance stats.

The RF does weigh 45kg more than the roadster because of the roof construction and Mazda has upgraded the suspension and steering set-ups to deal with the extra pounds. But you would be hard pushed to spot any differences when it comes to handling.

The acceleration through the six speed gearbox is thrilling, the ride breath-taking and the steering feedback is superb making the MX-5 RF another brilliant driver's car from Mazda. With the roof raised, the occupants are cocooned inside and protected from all the outside elements. But at the first hint of sunshine the roof is lowered and its back to that wind-in-the-hair excitement again.

Another noteworthy fact about the RF model is that there is no compromise on boot space - the car maintains its 127-litre capacity as the hood rather cleverly folds away behind the seats.

Onto the nitty gritty then - the RF does work out a little more expensive to buy than the roadster and the test car was priced at £25,995 (£27,065 with options fitted). According to official figures it could deliver combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg with carbon emissions of 161g/km.

All in all, Mazda has provided all the necessary proof that you can take something as popular and brilliant to drive as the MX-5 and raise the bar even further. The RF is a fantastic piece of kit and there is nothing in its price range that comes close to matching it.

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