Creating a compact sports car that envelops you in beauty
Craftsmanship that realizes the ultimate in KODO design
I wanted to introduce the fun of driving a lightweight sports car to a broader audience, and it was my love for the Mazda MX-5 that gave birth to the design of the new MX-5 RF. If we consider the soft-top model to represent the purist appeal of the lightweight sports car, which we recently honed in a stoic effort to reach new heights, then the retractable fastback represents a new type of MX-5 that aims to be a compact sports car with a natural charm that anybody and everybody will find beautiful.
I figured the addition of a hardtop version of the fourth-generation MX-5 demanded that we introduce a sleek fastback design with a smooth line joining the roof to the rear end if we were to create a look of beauty that would appeal to all. I considered this point critical to the design, and didn’t waver over that conviction for a moment. To convey the fun and charm of the MX-5 experience to a larger, more diverse range of people rather than just sports car fans, I felt the MX-5 RF must embody natural beauty and not attempt to attract attention by merely being different.
This led me to quickly decide to adopt fastback styling. The rub was that this also became the biggest hurdle in designing the MX-5 RF. It may not look like it at a glance, but this is a car with a retractable roof! It’s a car that lets drivers enjoy the pleasure of open-air driving along with a unique sense of being ensconced securely in the cabin! It would be impossible to achieve a combination of this new form of driving pleasure and beautiful fastback styling if I applied conventional thinking. Anything short of creating a new design expression and teaming up with the design and production engineers to approach the project with passion and determination as a team, and the whole concept would be just pie in the sky.
I am hoping the MX-5 RF will surprise a wide variety of people and contribute to increased interest in the MX-5, while increasing the number of people who enjoy the car’s beauty and the pleasure of driving without limiting the appeal to those interested in sports cars.
Mazda MX-5 Chief Designer
The design goal for the MX-5 RF was to create the ideal form for a hardtop version of the MX-5. In other words, it was to achieve an entirely new roof design that combines a beautiful cabin with the silhouette of a hardtop and the same level of open-air comfort and freedom afforded by the soft-top version. To this end, Mazda set about creating an uncompromising design based on the following four ideals.
- A beautiful silhouette: In contrast to the open-air styling of the soft-top model the MX-5 RF will often be appreciated for its hardtop styling with the roof closed. This demands that the cabin presents a beautiful silhouette when the roof is closed.
The rear roof features side sections that slope down gently toward the rear, while also tucking in at the sides to create a perfect teardrop shape for the cabin. The flowing roof line along the A-pillars, roof sides and rear roof, which are painted in the body color, combine with the straight body line that runs from the low hood through to the rear deck, realizing an elegant, beautiful fastback silhouette that accentuates its styling.
While the overhead roof panels and back window glass are stowed out of sight, the rear roof stays in position when the top is down. This differs from any other hardtop model on the market to create a truly unique new design expression.
- Compact packaging: With the exception of a 5mm increase in the height of the roof, MX-5 RF maintains the same overall length, width and wheelbase as the soft-top model. This compact packaging properly expresses the stability and dynamism of the MX-5’s road-gripping stance.
- A new open-air experience: MX-5 RF features unique styling when the roof is open by which the overhead roof panels and back window glass are stowed away out of sight. The result is a pleasing sense of freedom combined with a reassuring feeling of being wrapped securely in the cabin. This combines with the enjoyable exhaust note coming from the rear of the car to amplify the fun of open-air driving.
- Independent trunk: MX-5 RF does not sacrifice practicality for the sake of offering a retractable roof. In addition to the efforts of the designers and packaging engineers to realize a beautiful silhouette while adopting the hardtop, the independent trunk also secures the exact same luggage capacity as on the soft-top model.
- Machine Gray: This is a newly developed body color first introduced on the CX-9 midsize, three-row crossover SUV. Machine Gray was developed to express the beauty of a machine’s strength and precision. With strong contrast between light and shadow and a sleek, high-density finish, it gives the impression that the vehicle’s body has been sculpted from a solid steel ingot.
- Roof color*: The sides of the roof and rear roof are color matched to the body color. The top of the roof is available in either piano black or the body color.
*Availability varies depending on the market and vehicle specifications.
Major interior design features include body panels that wrap around and extend right into the door trim, as well as a cockpit zone centered on the driver and around which all major controls are laid out in perfect symmetry. Special attention to every detail focused on transcending its existence as a mere automobile to become a sports car that owners will truly love. As with the soft-top model, the aim was to create a cockpit design that brings a smile to the face and gets the heart pounding simply by looking at it or sitting in the driver’s seat. Benefitting from its hardtop, MX-5 RF significantly improves ride quietness and heightens the feeling of high quality.
The basic design features are essentially the same as on the soft-top model. This includes the elaborate three-meter cluster and sharp-looking, compact steering wheel, as well as the horizontal layout of the instrument panel and strong sense of front-rear movement conveyed by the door trim. The two points that differ on the MX-5 RF are as follows.
- Meters: The information display to the left of the three-meter cluster adopts a dedicated 4.6-inch color TFT LCD screen that displays an animation of the roof when it is opening or closing.
- Hardtop open/close button: A button for opening and closing the roof is positioned on the panel below the dials for the air-conditioning system.
Seat design and interior colors
The higher level of quality and soft touch of Auburn-colored Nappa leather seats enhances the interior’s relaxing and sophisticated ambience. Gray stitching is used on the seats and center sections of the door trim.
*Availability varies depending on the market and vehicle specifications.
Reference display vehicles (N. American Specification)
Major specifications (Development target figures)
|Body type||Two-door open-top|
|Seating capacity||Two passengers|
|Overall length* x width x height||154.1 inch x 68.3 inch x 49.0 inch
(3,915mm x 1,735mm x 1,245mm)
|Wheelbase||90.9 inch (2,310mm)|
|Engine||SKYACTIV-G 2.0 direct-injection gasoline engine|
|Transmission||Six-speed automatic transmission
Six-speed manual transmission
|Front suspension||Double wishbone|
|Steering||Rack-and-pinion type Electric Power Assist Steering|
|Brakes (front/rear)||Ventilated discs / Solid discs|
*Without license plate holder
Jacob Brown, Mazda North American Operations, 949-727-6751 or Eric Booth, Mazda North American Operations, 949-727-6144
Mazda North American Operations: http://www.mazdausamedia.com
Global Mazda Media Site: http://www.media.mazda.com