In Wheel Time

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF 'drive for good' with wind in your hair

Want to get away? This is your car. In Wheel Time

Already very familiar with the MX-5 two-seat sports car soft-top model, we recently had a chance to spend a week in the new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, equipped with the new retractable hard convertible top. The RF joins the MX-5 soft top version for 2017 — both offering a lighter and more nimble Mazda interpretation of their classic open-top drive experience — reasonably priced and fun-to-drive vehicle that is sure to please nearly everyone in search of "wind in the hair" driving adventure.  

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Our test MX-5 RF was the Grand Touring trim level with the exclusive machine gray exterior and a black/gray interior with red accent stitching, piano black trim and carbon fiber accents.  

There are a many road trips worth of reasons to like the new rear-wheel-drive Miata RF, including its slightly lower and sleeker fastback silhouette, the iconic Boxer four-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower with 148 lb.-ft. of torque, and the very slick and quick six-speed short-throw manual transmission that very effectively puts the power to the road. Running on 17-inch dark silver alloy wheels mounted with Bridgestone 205/45 R17 high performance tires, the manual gear box gets fuel economy of 33 mpg highway. (The available six-speed automatic is rated at 35 mpg highway.)

The key feature of the RF is the "one touch" — exceptionally fast — retractable hardtop that stows in just 13 seconds, enabling quick open-top getaways. Other attributes of note include LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights; standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio; BOSE audio system with ine speakers (including in the headrests); Mazda Connect infotainment with navigation and satellite radio; and a 7-inch color touch screen. Seating is sport type with durable cloth cover, contrasting accent stitching and three-level heating.

Underneath, the MX-5 RF features a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with monotube gas shocks, stabilizer bars and uses double pinion electric power-assisted steering and equipped with stability and traction control. Brakes are 11-inch vented disc-single piston caliper front and 11-inch solid disc-single piston aluminum calipers rear.

Mazda is known for its safety features, and the MX-5 RF Grand Touring has got them, including Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Front Lighting with High Beam Control and Rain Sensing Wipers.

Our test 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Grand Touring — delivered — had a sticker price of $33,885.

A test Drive for Good extra

As part of our test drive arrangement with Mazda, they granted us the privilege of participating in their industry-leading Drive for Good charitable giving program by giving us a “giving card” that we could use to make a donation to a 501(c)3 charitable organization of our choice.  

We selected the Air Warrior Courage Foundation — a 501(c)3 we work with through the Lake Travis Christmas Hope organization. Our charity provides direct financial assistance (not available from the government) to wounded warrior families going through rehabilitation at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC).

The Drive for Good program

Back in 2012, Mazda decided that — instead of the usual end of year holiday sales event promotion — to offer an opportunity for consumers to test drive a Mazda vehicle with Mazda making a service donation to charity as a result. Further, if one purchased a Mazda vehicle during the event, Mazda would make a $150 donation to a selected charity as directed by the customer.   

It was so successful that Mazda expanded the program to year-round and continues it today, doing good across the United States through millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours going to worthy causes.  

Mazda announced it would be donating over $5.4 million to select charities across the United States in 2017 — money raised during their 2016 Mazda Drive for Good event.

Since the program began in 2013, Mazda has donated more than $18.4 million and delivered over 263,000 hours of service to selected charities.

Mazda’s national charity partners include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Red Cross, American Heart Association and the Mazda Foundation.

Thanks Mazda, for the test drive of the new MX-5 RF — it was a blast even without much hair for the wind to blow on my "vintage" head.  

And a big thank you from the families of our wounded warriors in rehabilitation at SAMMC who are working every day to get back to a new normal life.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome