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Mazda unveils the MX-5 RF, a Miata with a gorgeous targa top

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The Mazda Miata has a new, hardtop brother: a targa called the Mazda MX-5 RF.

In front of a packed house of journalists in a Chelsea loft, Mazda execs rolled out the car, which looks exactly like what you'd expect (only a lot, lot better) — a Mazda Miata with a hardtop, but with a gorgeously complicated targa roof retraction mechanism. And oh, is it gorgeous.

A targa is a car with a removable roof section over the driver and passenger, but more roof or a roll bar behind the seats rather than a fully retractable roof like the standard MX-5 has. Theoretically a targa delivers more rigidity than a full convertible, as well as a substantial increase in style, and reduced complexity in the retraction mechanism.

Mazda MX-5 RF

The Mazda MX-5 RF is almost like a coupe with a back that opens up to swallow the targa roof panel. Think of it as a sunroof that's extended to the edges of the roof — and the back end of the car eats it up. When the roof is up, It has the added benefit of protecting the occupants against the weather and road noise. Mazda has done limited runs of hardtop coupes before, but never one with a retractable targa roof.

The MX-5 RF doesn't look exactly like its MX-5 brother, it has nips and tucks here and there. Even better, the rear window is retractable.

The targa name started in 1966 with the Porsche 911 Targa, and the 911 remains the world's most famous targa — and the word remains a Porsche trademark. Mazda has plenty of company in the targa world, including the Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari F355, and the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.

Pre-orders available late in the summer, with deliveries coming after that. Pricing has not yet been announced. The soft-top MX-5 runs from $25,000 to $31,000 in the US.

Mazda MX-5 RF in photos