The all-new Mazda MX-5 RF, the latest adaptation of the best selling two-seater sports car ever, will make its European premiere in the UK at the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed in June. First unveiled to the public at the New York International Auto Show in March, the retractable fastback version of Mazda’s legendary roadster will be the highlight of the carmaker’s Goodwood stand, where Mazda pays tribute to the MX-5’s past, present and future. The MX-5 RF in “Machine Grey” will feature alongside the one-millionth production MX-5, which rolled off the assembly line in Japan on 22 April, as well as the MX-5 Spyder and MX-5 Speedster concept cars.

While staying true to the practical rationale behind the previous generation’s retractable hardtop version, the MX-5 RF’s fastback styling gives it a unique look, roof open or shut. Even when open, occupants have the protection of the windowed rear roof section, which remains in place behind the seats after the top segments stow away. By offering customers more choice, the MX-5 RF further amplifies the appeal of the world’s favourite roadster.

“With the all-new Mazda MX-5 RF, we freed ourselves from traditional ways of thinking and took on fresh challenges to create something new,” commented MX-5 Programme Manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto. “Our aim was a convertible sports car with gorgeous fastback lines when the roof is closed and an exhilarating feeling when open.”

Roof aside, the MX-5 RF shares for the most part the KODO design of the soft-top convertible version, with the same length, width and wheelbase. The hardtop, which brings a 5mm increase in height, is one of the fastest available, opening or closing at the touch of a button even when the car is moving at up to 10km/h.

The MX-5 RF also retains the soft-top model’s trademark agility and curve-hugging balance. Specially tuned suspension and steering deliver a more refined ride, while a sound-absorbing headliner in the roof panels and special insulation to counter rear wheel noise further enhance cabin comfort, significantly reducing noise levels with the top closed.

Launched in Europe last fall, the fourth-generation MX-5 was recently crowned 2016 World Car of the Year and 2016 World Car Design of the Year – the first time in the history of the competition that one model has captured both prizes. Also known as the MX-5 “ND”, it has won more than 40 awards so far, including 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan and 2016 UK Car of the Year. The MX-5 RF is slated to go on sale in Europe in early 2017.

The 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place on 23-26 June at the Goodwood estate, which is located near Chichester, England, some 100km southwest of London.