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Mazda MX-5 RF raises the roof in New York

Mazda’s MX-5 RF.

The 2016 Mazda MX-5, a finalist for World Car of the Year, received cover treatment from car magazines and dedicated newspaper sections around the globe last year, with journalists near-unanimously praising the two-seater as great fun to drive.

Yet, buyers of the redesigned and retooled Miata remained primarily in their 50s and 60s, mystifying and perhaps frustrating the Japanese auto maker.

Targeting a younger buyer, on Tuesday night in a renovated Meat Packing District warehouse, its executives wearing blazers over denim during their presentations, Mazda introduced the Mazda MX-5 RF – the letters short for “retractable fastback”. The 2017 Miata gets a hard, transparent folding roof that fits into a back compartment in just a few seconds without compromising trunk space.

Weight change is said to be around 100 pounds, thus the performance of the incumbent 155-horsepower SkyActiv engine/six-speed manual or automatic transmission shouldn’t be compromised significantly. Mazda’s North American president, Masahiro Moro, touted the car as adding “comfort” and “security” over the soft-top while being dressed in a “more stylish suit”.

The RF is sleek looking, absent chrome in the rear, available in a Porsche-conjuring sheet-metal grey, designed inside to provide the cockpit feel to driver and passenger. It is curvy and sexy in its contours. Thirtysomethings are mainly in the market for CUVs with room for kids in the back, but if they want to escape household mayhem at reasonable cost, here’s a viable option to feel the wind in the hair. Unless of course, it’s too cold. Then, close the roof. It’ll be quieter, and probably warmer, than the soft-top.

Mazda unveils the Mazda MX-5 RF Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in New York. (AP)

When can I buy it, and at what cost?

Mazda will take pre-orders this summer. Price will be slightly higher than for the soft-top MX-5. Deliveries, early next year.

Cool quotient

4.5 stars (out of 5)

Think Porsche 911 Targa, at a Mazda price.

Editor's note: An earlier digital version of this story incorrectly stated the surname of Mazda's North American president. This version has been corrected.

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