2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
There’s a new Mazda Miata in town, and it’s more than just a hardtop, it’s something entirely different. It’s the MX-5 RF, for retractable fastback. Now is it just a Miata that’s better in bad weather, or is it a better Miata period? Well, we feel it’s our duty to get to the top of it!
Sports cars have been in a bit of a slump lately, though the Mazda MX-5 Miata has mostly been immune. But just to ensure the excitement meter stays pegged; for 2017, Mazda has something special for all of us, this Miata RF.
Much different than the previous gen’s Power Retractable Hard Top, this Retractable Fastback features a somewhat complicated design that somehow works very smoothly, and stores the center section of the roof only, in the same amount of space as the soft top, leaving trunk capacity exactly the same. You could call it a Targa, but Mazda chose not to.
It’s much better in every way than the previous hard top. And as sharp as it looks with it up, we can see a lot of style-conscious fans buying it for that reason alone.
The RF also includes some additional sound-deadening material, so engine and tire noise are more tempered, a plus if you’re planning longer trips.
The RF looks much different in profile of course, unique enough that it wasn’t instantly recognizable as a Miata to many we encountered.
The RF weighs about 110-lbs more than the roadster, but you won’t notice it in around town driving.
And we love that everything remains super simple inside. All is right where you expect it to be, including the shifter for the standard 6-speed manual.
But that also means frustrating cup holders and minimal small item storage space.
No other changes inside, save for the button to set the top in motion and a new TFT screen in the gauges that will make its way into other Miatas soon.
Plenty of headroom remains, but if our RF had any downside, it was wind noise. Too much of it made it inside, seemingly right by our ears.
Nothing deviates from the norm in the powertrain department. Under-hood lies a SKACTIV-G 2.0-liter I4 with 155-horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque.
Maybe it was the top’s added weight, or test day’s hot temps, but our RF manual was a few tenths slower to 60 than the last cloth top we tested, at 6.3-seconds.
Only moderate throttle modulation is necessary at launch, as there’s not enough torque to really cause problems. Both clutch and shifter work as precisely as always, allowing you to move quickly through the gears. We finished the ¼-mile in 15.0-seconds flat at 92 miles-per-hour.
And without a doubt, no matter what is or isn’t over your head, the MX-5 remains a great place to take in the blurry sights surrounding your favorite back road. Or our choice, the curves of Northern Virginia’s Dominion Raceway.
We know that a hardtop can add some rigidity to a car’s chassis, but to be honest we didn’t sense that either, as the basic car is now so solid.
Both the suspension and electric power steering have been recalibrated, and if anything, we noticed a little less feel through the wheel than before, though reaction is still very quick. Throttle response also felt a little deadened.
The RF is only available in Club and Grand Touring trim, with base pricing that works out to be around 3-grand extra. So, its $32,430 for the Club RF, and $33,495 for the Grand Touring.
So, you have to really love the new look. Now, we view the MX-5 as the best bargain among sports cars, so we’d probably stick with the original and spend the money we saved on performance upgrades.
Still, one thing is clear. Mazda took great strides to give buyers not just a hard top version of our beloved Miata, but something that is truly different. The 2017 MX-5 Miata RF is a uniquely charming take on the minimalist roadster theme; and a beauty not just for our eyes, but for all of our senses.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 155
- Torque: 148 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 92 mph
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970