The Mazda MX-5 RF will command a $4,000 price premium over a soft-top equivalent when the new hardtop model hits Aussie showrooms in February.
And the price isn't the only thing that's gotten bigger. The addition of the four-piece folding hardtop also adds 45kg to the sprightly MX-5's weight, boosting the published curb figure to 1,078kg for the manual version and 1,102kg in automatic guise.
Only offered with a 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated petrol engine, and paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, the MX-5 RF will initially be offered in two trims, the base RF specification and the more premium GT trim. The RF's sticker price stretches from $38,550 (manual) to $40,550 (automatic) for the entry-level model, and from $43,890 (manual) to $45,890 (automatic) for the GT trim.
Like its cloth-topped sibling, the RF's 2.0-litre engine generates 118kW at 6,000rpm and 200Nm at 4,600rpm, with the hardtop clipping 100km/h in a claimed 7.4 seconds in manual guise, and 8.3 seconds when paired with the automatic. That is only the slightest of increases compared to the lighter soft-top 2.0-litre versions, which report 7.1 seconds and 8.4 seconds respectively.
Mazda says the new RF shape will attract a different set of buyers to the MX-5, including shoppers who might not otherwise consider a soft top.
The features list will largely mirror that of the soft-top models, with standard kit still including 17-inch alloys, cruise control, cloth seats and a sat nav-equipped seven-inch multimedia screen paired with a six-speaker stereo. Springing for the GT model adds leather seats, a BOSE nine-speaker stereo and heated seats.
Mazda says the new RF shape will attract a different set of buyers to the MX-5, including shoppers who might not otherwise consider a soft top. The Japanese giant is predicting the RF will account for 60 per cent of total sales in Australia.
"It's still fundamentally an MX-5 - a lightweight, affordable sports car," says Mazda Australia Marketing Director, Alastair Doak.
"But it does open up a bigger marketplace. It's got a different style to it, a different character to it, and it's more refined as well. If people have looked at the MX-5 and rejected it for whatever reason in the past, maybe because it's a soft top and they want extra security, then this really extends the MX-5 family."
But the new MX-5 story, which began with the launch of the 1.5-litre model in August 2015, might not be over yet, with Mazda heavily tipped to offer a Club edition, which would arrive with the sportiest standard specification seen on an Australian MX-5, including Bilstein dampers, Brembo brakes and Recaro seats.
"It's under consideration," Mr Doak said. "We haven't committed to bringing them to Australia yet, but at some point we will probably look at it seriously."
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