Mazda's fourth-generation MX-5 roadster arrived to the marketplace in 2016 to much fanfare as the most refined version of this tiny two-seater since its introduction nearly three decades ago.
That refinement got a boost with last year's addition of the RF, a folding hardtop variant that boasts more exotic looks thanks to the roof's construction, turning the car into something like a budget-priced Porsche 911 Targa.
That comparison is a bit of a stretch performance-wise, but it bears remembering that the MX-5 is one of the best driver's cars you'll find for less than $40,000.
For 2018, the MX-5 RF's fundamentals are unchanged, but Mazda has made adjustments to the suspension to make the car's responses more predictable in enthusiastic driving while enhancing ride comfort in more relaxed situations.
The entry-grade GS trim (the true GX base model is limited to the softtop car, covered in a separate buyer's guide entry) gains passive keyless entry, heated seats and heated side mirrors, but loses its anti-theft alarm.
Mazda says it has improved the quality of the MX-5's interior with an upholstered sun visor, padding inside the rear console storage box and LED lighting to make it easier to see the gauges when the headlights are switched off.
There are also a few new paint colours.
And, as before, there's the extra sound insulation that comes with the hard roof, which is operated electrically, where the soft-top is a manual affair that can be raised and stowed from either seat with just one hand.
What's most important is that this car remains one of the purest driving experiences you'll find at any price point. Its 2.0L engine may produce a modest 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, but that means you can drive this car flat out without attracting the attention of law enforcement at every turn.
A six-speed manual transmission remains part of the standard package, and it's a sweet one: the stubby shifter has a pleasantly notchy feel and the clutch is nicely weighted and easy to modulate. For those less concerned with the ultimate level of driver involvement, the option is a six-speed automatic that suits the car just fine.
A small motor also means respectable fuel consumption, estimated at 8.9/7.1 L/100 km (city/highway) with the stickshift, or 9.1/6.8 automatic form.
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