The man behind the design of the new Mazda MX-5 RF has said that the car’s complex folding roof mechanism was designed almost by accident, as his team attempted to give the hardtop sports car the look of a coupé without compromising on boot space.
Chief designer Masashi Nakayama told Autocar that the roof’s folding mechanism was created when he and his team tried to incorporate a pair of flying buttresses with a targa-style roof. “This was the most elegant design which didn’t intrude on the boot," he said.
When asked if the RF’s flying buttresses took inspiration from models like the Ferrari 599 GTB (which flaunts rear-pillars of a similar shape), Nakayama said: “Yes, the Ferrari and even some Lamborghinis played a part. I’ve always liked those designs.”
Nakayama said that the soft-top’s roof design has a harsher, more abrupt rear, and that the longer, more flowing lines of the RF were deliberately designed to resemble a coupé. “If you could design any roof on the body of this car, what would it look like? It would look like the roof of a beautiful coupé," he said, sketching out a comparison drawing to illustrate his point.
You could say that the RF is the MX-5 with a more complete design. Though there’s a clear similarity in the way the roof folds with the Porsche 911 Targa, Nakayama said the resemblance is purely coincidental.