Back in March we saw the unveiling of the Mazda’s Miata RF (Retractable Fastback) at the New York International Auto Show. My colleagues and many of you went nuts for it. All the fun of a Miata with the looks of a fastback and the benefits of a convertible. It was pretty much everything you could ask for in a car right? Miatas are legendary for being just about the most fun you can have in a car while keeping things decent. You don’t have to go a million miles per hour to have a good time behind the wheel. Which means you can enjoy yourself, not worry about a fiery death and you keep Johnny Lay happy-ish.
I know Miatas have this ferociously loyal following. I know they’re one of the best drivers cars you can get without breaking the bank. I know these things and I still have never liked the Miata in any guise. The current generation of Miatas are by far and away the best looking of the bunch. But even they are not without fault. For example, he headlights are too small. That said, it is without question better looking than its Italian sibling, the Fiat 124. Things got a little better with the RF. The fastback look made it look sportier, more than just a little rag top. Thing is though, If you want to grab this particular option be prepared to part with a not insignificant amount of cash.
The Base Miata starts at $25,750. A reasonable price for a small convertible, especially when you consider what the Miata can do. However, if you want to go in to the realm of the RF, things take a rather unexpected jump. The Price for the cheapest RF is $32,390 or in other words more than $6600 more than the base Miata. Or roughly the same price as a Mustang GT. A GT, not the 6 cylinder, not the little ecoboost that could, 5.0 liter, full snarling Coyote V8 Mustang GT. You could have a brand new Ford Focus ST AND the Cobb Stage 3 tuning Kit and have money left over. If you are willing to search the certified pre-owned market $32k would easily get you a Golf R and some cash left over. Same thing applies to a Cadillac ATS 2.0T Performance. With plenty of money to add Vermont Tuning’s 390 horsepower package. And we all know how good the stock ATS 2.0T is. You can get a certified BMW 335. Coupe or Sedan, Manual or Automatic. Whatever you want. Hell, if you’re willing to live on the wild side, you could get a used E90/92 BMW M3 in Coupe, Convertible or sedan. I know none of these cars are convertibles and aren’t really in the same segment and maintenance costs are going to be higher. But I am just using them to show how expensive $32k really is.
Yes the RF is heavily optioned as standard and comes in 2 trim levels. The Club level (which is the one to buy as it comes with the limited slip diff) offers amenities like 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Also offers RF-exclusive items such as a 4.6-inch color information screen mounted in the gauge cluster and, of course, a power-folding targa top. The top of the range Grand Touring adds heated leather seats, lane-departure warning, and adaptive headlights with automatic high-beams. It also brings the price up to $33,455. You would have to be soft in the head to buy this. No limited slip diff and it costs $33k, for a Miata? No thank you. There are far more versatile cars out there for the same price or less that give you nearly the same feel.
Yes, the base Miata is a great car even if I struggle to admit that. Yes, the current generation of Miatas are the greatest in the car’s history. Yes, the RF is the best looking Miata I’ve ever seen. All of these things and then some make the RF a great car. But when you consider the price tag, I’m sorry to say but I’m passing on the RF, at least until it comes out on the pre-owned market and the cost becomes more reasonable. Or, Mazda could stop jerking us around and just make a Miata coupe already.