Mazda-MX-5-INSET (800x533)

Mazda has recently unveiled a surprise new MX-5 with an electrically folding hard-top roof, despite claiming the car would always stick to a canvas top.

The Japanese firm had said the fourth-generation would be soft-top only, in the interests of keeping weight down to the incredible target of just one tonne without a driver.

But at the New York International Auto Show Mazda unexpectedly revealed a new variant called the RF, with a type of roof not before seen on a Mazda.

A body panel behind the seats lifts completely out of the way, just like on the Porsche 911 Targa, letting the roof fold neatly away before the panel is lowered again.


The panel incorporates chunky C-pillars that double as classic racing car-style aerodynamic humps behind the two seats, but the system is a significant amount heavier than the manual soft-top. So much so that Mazda is as-yet unwilling to confirm the increase.

Mazda says the boot is no smaller despite the extra cavity that holds the folded lid, but the system is a bit delicate and can only be operated at up to 6mph.

Both current engines will be built for RF models, giving buyers a choice of 129bhp 1.5-litre and 158bhp 2.0-litre units.

There’s no word yet on delivery dates or prices, but a modest cost increase is expected over the soft-top car in order to recoup investment on the roof design.