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
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined