designboom test drives the new mazda MX-5 RF and CX-5 in san diego

designboom test drives the new mazda MX-5 RF and CX-5 in san diego


mazda has unveiled two new cars that form part of its 2017 line-up: the MX-5 RF, the latest miata complete with retractable fastback roof; and the revamped CX-5, the automaker’s best-selling compact crossover SUV. both vehicles represent the japanese company’s marked shift towards ‘mazda premium’, a strategy that places an increased focus on emotive design and heightened driver experience.


designboom was invited to the southern californian city of san diego to test out the new cars, and take a closer look at mazda’s desire to develop an almost symbiotic relationship between driver and vehicle.

the miata RF is the latest addition to the MX-5 family



since its inception in 1989, the MX-5 has become the best-selling roadster of all time. thanks to its character-defining open-air driving style, the car has remained an authentic lightweight sports car across each of its four generations. soon to go on sale, the latest addition to mazda’s MX-5 family is the RF (retractable fastback), a brand new model that combines the miata’s recognized drivability with the introduction of a power retractable fastback roof.



the folding hardtop can open or close in just 13 seconds



fitting a rigid hardtop into the confines of the car’s rear end proved quite a challenge for mazda’s engineers. after considering several methods — some as dramatic as splitting the roof into seven parts — the team eventually came up with a functional solution that didn’t compromise the roadster’s iconic appearance. the folding hardtop can open or close in just 13 seconds, and is operated with a power switch on the central console.

the MX-5 RF is exclusively available in machine gray metallic paint



complemented with LED headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels, the exterior of the MX-5 RF is exclusively available in machine gray metallic paint, a finish produced through a meticulous layering process and light manipulation. importantly, the miata’s aluminum power plant frame weighs nearly 20 percent less than the previous generation MX-5, a change that results in a more connected and responsive driving experience. 

the vehicle conveys energy and motion — even when stationary



mazda’s ‘KODO – soul of motion’ design direction has shaped the style and presence of all of its current models, and the RF is no different. the philosophy stems from mazda’s takumi craftsmen, who believe that if you work with passion, you infuse soul into everything you create. the design team sought to create a sense of fluidity between exterior and interior, a gesture that results in a vehicle that conveys energy and motion — even when stationary.

each button, switch, and display, has been aesthetically and ergonomically considered



inside the car, a refined aesthetic pays homage to mazda’s japanese heritage with every detail positioned to reduce unnecessary distractions. in order to make the experience more intuitive for both driver and passenger, each button, switch, and display has been aesthetically and ergonomically considered — from the form of the door handle, to the angle of the accelerator pedal.

the design team sought to create a sense of fluidity between exterior and interior



the RF’s SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine offers 155 horsepower, and can be paired with either a manual or automatic six-speed transmission. the car features a BOSE audio system with nine integrated speakers, while safety and security highlights on the top-of-the-line grand touring model include blind spot monitoring, a lane departure warning system, and rain-sensing wipers. weighing in at 2,445 lbs, (2,485 lbs with automatic transmission), prices for the MX-5 RF start at $31,555 USD.

the all-new CX-5 includes a significantly re-engineered body and chassis



in san diego, designboom also took the new CX-5 for a spin — a highly successful model that now accounts for around 25 percent of mazda’s annual sales. inspired by traditional japanese craft and a minimalist aesthetic, the all-new 2017 compact crossover SUV includes a significantly re-engineered body and chassis, as well as a completely redesigned interior and exterior.

the car’s bold yet simple form has been sculpted to subtly reflect shadows and highlights



conveying a sense of acceleration, speed, and forward momentum, the vehicle expresses one motion running from front to rear. the car’s bold yet simple form — engineered to transmit a sense of ‘refined toughness’ — has been sculpted to subtly reflect shadows and highlights, creating an elegant expression of transitioning light. the CX-5 now comes in a new body color — soul red crystal — an emotive finish that seeks to engineer what the design team calls an ‘irrational seduction’.

mazda’s engineers have worked hard to ensure that the cabin is as quiet as possible



an immediately noticeable improvement is found inside the car, where mazda’s engineers have worked hard to ensure that the cabin is as quiet as possible — allowing for more comfortable conversation and a more peaceful ride. this was achieved through exhaustively researching, analyzing, and testing every detail of the car. wipers have been lowered beneath the hoodline to take them out of the airstream, while a third seal has been added between the front and rear door to prevent turbulence.

the car’s interior architecture is laid out symmetrically around the driver



the CX-5’s premium feel continues throughout the interiors, where, as with the MX5-RF, human-centered design details make the difference. the car’s interior architecture is laid out symmetrically around the driver, with a clear differentiation between driving data and potentially distracting entertainment information. the cockpit zone is designed to provide an ideal seating position, with all controls and switches laid out where the driver can naturally extend a hand or foot to operate them.

there is a clear differentiation between driving data and entertainment information



the CX-5’s full-color active driving display allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road by projecting important information — such as speed and navigation data — onto the windshield. in addition, a new forward facing camera, positioned just behind the rear view mirror, is able to recognize traffic signs. based on both navigation and camera data, this feature automatically displays ‘stop’, ‘speed limit’, and ‘do not enter’ signs in real-time on the car’s advanced driving display.

real french seam stitching has been used throughout the interior



interior surfaces are more inviting to the touch than ever before, with real french seam stitching detail on the seating, upper door panels, arm rests, dashboard and center console. even the steering wheel has been reconsidered, with an improved grip fit allowing resting fingers to be comfortably placed at the corner between the spoke and grip.

the car boasts high levels of vehicle responsiveness and stability



the new CX-5 adopts G-vectoring control, a technology that brings driving performance and steering response in line with human senses. cornering on the roads of southern california resulted in a comfortable ride with high levels of vehicle responsiveness and stability, and minimal sideways torso movement. in addition to using a column type electric power steering system, the new CX-5 adopts rigid steering mounts that heighten the car’s steering rigidity.

the CX-5 now comes in a new body color, soul red crystal



all CX-5 models come standard with the SKYACTIV-G 2.5 engine and six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission. front-wheel drive is also standard, with mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive available on all trim levels. the all-new 2017 CX-5 will start sales in late march, with a starting price of $24,045 USD.










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