Mazda has kicked off production of the MX-5 Retractable Fastback (RF) at its Ujina Plant No.1 factory located near the company’s HQ in Hiroshima, Japan.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement about Mazda beginning to take pre-orders, the MX-5 RF has entered production for European and North American markets where it will go on sale early next year. The car is being assembled alongside the roadster version and the Fiat 124 Spider, which is available exclusively with a fabric roof, although a coupe with Abarth power might be launched as early as next year.

The main difference between the regular MX-5 Miata and the RF is the switch from a manually-retractable fabric roof to an electrically-operated hard top. All you have to do is press a button to open or close the top, but you can do it only at speeds of up to 6 mph (10 kph). Even with the two roof panels folded and the rear window lowered, the RF will be able to provide the same cargo capacity of 4.6 cubic feet (130 liters) as its roadster counterpart.

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF
2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

The “poor man’s Porsche 911 Targa” as some like to joke about it, starts at $31,555 MSRP in United States if you go for the manual, while upgrading to the automatic will bump the price to $32,285. The higher-specification Grand Touring trim adds goodies such as a Bose sound system and leather upholstery, but in this case the price rises to $32,260 for the manual and to $33,825 for the automatic.

Should you want the more expensive Launch Edition, that’ll be $33,850 in manual guise and $34,295 with the auto ‘box. It’s going to bundle all the equipment of the aforementioned Grand Touring trim, including heated seats, automatic AC, and LED daytime running lights. You’d better act fast since Mazda is making only 1,000 units of this special edition and will prioritize orders coming from customers with a history in owning cars from the Japanese marque. In other words, availability of the fancier model is going to be even more limited for regular folks.

Mazda MX-5 RF live at New York
Mazda MX-5 RF live at New York
Mazda MX-5 RF live at New York

All 1,000 cars part of the Launch Edition will come with a Machine Grey body paint combined with a black roof and an Auburn Nappa leather interior, much like the car (pictured above) exhibited earlier this year by Mazda at the New York Auto Show.

Just like the regular MX-5 Miata, the RF in U.S. specification is powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 155 horsepower (115 kilowatts) and 148 pound-feet (200 Newton-Meters) of torque.

The RF is set to go on sale at home in Japan before the year’s end, with U.S. and European markets to follow early 2017.

Source: Mazda

Gallery: Mazda MX-5 RF production start in Japan

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Mazda starts production of the Mazda MX-5 RF

Mazda Motor Corporation started production yesterday of the Mazda MX-5 RF retractable hardtop at Ujina Plant No.1 near its global headquarters in Hiroshima. Production began with models bound for the European and North American markets, where sales will start in early 2017. In Japan, the MX-5 RF will go on sale later this year.

The MX-5 RF fully embodies the Jinba-Ittai philosophy of the driver and car in harmony that has defined the MX-5 throughout its 27-year history. This latest adaptation of Mazda’s lightweight two-seater features an eye-catching fastback design with a three-piece power retractable roof that, when opened, leaves the rear buttressed section in place for a unique convertible atmosphere.

Total production of the MX-5 reached 1 million units on 22 April this year. The model is highly acclaimed, having so far won more than 280 automotive awards around the world. These include 2016 World Car of the Year and 2016 World Car Design of the Year for the current fourth-generation MX-5.