Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

The Parkers VerdictShould you buy the Mazda MX-5 RF?

The Mazda MX-5 RF is a very likeable car, with an unusual style all of its own. It's becoming more and more difficult to find direct rivals for this as time goes by, as few offer a folding hard top. The more expensive BMW Z4 and Audi TT come with a fabric roof, while a Toyota GT86 or Subaru BRZ might be viewed as a coupe alternative with similar power.

Naturally, we'll always compare it to the soft-top model, but in its own right, the RF is still a fun-do-drive two-seater sports car that's easy to live with and won't cost the earth to run.

It’s a little heavier than its fabric-topped sibling and the slightly stiffer suspension that compensates means it compromises a little on low-speed comfort. However, the hard-top roof is better at isolating you from the noisy outside world, as well as the weather, so if that means you get to drive it more often in the colder winter months, that makes it more worthwhile, doesn't it?

The RF also goes one step further with its electric folding roof mechanism - the soft-top is hardly difficult to use in the first place, but pressing a button on the dash takes all the strain away from you.

Ultimately, the MX-5 RF almost serves as a relaxed grand-tourer version of the roadster, but it's a bit of a mixed bag. The engines are a little quieter, the lighter controls make it a little easier to drive, but it’s a shame the wind noise is so great when the roof is open, because when the roof is closed, it’s quieter and more comfortable than the soft-top.

Taller drivers, be warned – although the roofline is slightly taller, headroom is still very tight. Ironically, the roadster's more supple suspension means the RF isn't as comfortable as it could be, either. It may sound like we're nit-picking and being fussy, but in short, the MX-5 hasn't been ruined in RF form, it's just not the best version in the range.

If you’re likely to cover more motorway miles than average in your MX-5, or particularly like the look of the RF’s lines, there’s much here to enjoy. There's a dose more usability here, but we suspect most buyers will be served equally well by the cheaper, lighter, less complicated soft-top model.

Further reading

>> Fancied turbocharging your MX-5? Here's what company BBR have done

>> How about the closely-related Abarth 124 Spider?

>> Our Parkers star ratings explained