Review and Test Drive: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF

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DRIVING THE 2017 MAZDA MX-5 MIATA GRAND TOURING RF

Press the roof button in the center stack and an elaborate dance-like sequence ensues as the sail panels and plastic screen behind the driver lift up while the rear glass windscreen and two roof panels slide back into their compartment. The sail panels move back into place and voilà, you are done. The roof can be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 6 mph (9.6 km/h).

In order to keep the soft top’s superb handling characteristics, Mazda had to retune the suspension to allow for several differences including an additional 113 pounds (51 kilograms) of curb weight. This included retuning the suspension, changing a rear steering bushing, and recalibrating the steering. With the manual transmission (an automatic is optional), Mazda hit the 50/50 mark in front-to-rear balance (the automatic is 51/49).

With both feet in, pressed the start/stop button, and take it for a ride. What immediately impressed was how much quieter the RF is compared to the roadster. With the roof panels in place, it’s not quite library quiet but with the thick headliner (which reduces headroom by 0.6”) and sound-deadening material in several places including the top of the transmission tunnel, nary a noise was audible.

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With the roof open, the feeling of openness was truly intoxicating, with little of the noise that the open convertible would allow.

Slipped the short-throw shifter into first and off we went. Shifting gears was a pleasure, indiscernible from the finest German sports sedans and providing the driver with far greater engagement in the actual driving process. Japanese Fahrvergnügen anyone?

The seats provide excellent support and comfort, even on longer drives. Fit and finish is excellent and such new options as heated seats mean one can drive with the roof open on cold but sunny winter days.

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