Mazda’s new MX-5 RF is a convertible for people who don’t feel the need to get the roof down at every feasible opportunity.

While the regular MX-5 is the choice for die-hard soft top fanatics, owners of the RF version are expected to use the car as more of an occasional convertible.

Its letters stand for ‘retractable fastback’ although I couldn’t help thinking ‘real freedom’ would have been more appropriate as I enjoyed the wind-in-the-hair experience on some of West Yorkshire’s open moorland roads.

With the roof in place, the RF is quieter and more secure than the soft top, while also looking more like a coupe due to a number of design tweaks.

However, it can transform itself into an open top machine in just 13 seconds. Flick a switch on the dashboard and the flying buttresses lift up, the solid roof and rear glass slides back and down into a self-contained storage area, and the buttresses lock back down again. It’s all electric, unlike the regular MX-5, which requires the driver or passenger to use a bit of elbow grease.

So what is it like to drive? Well, to continue the RF theme, it’s really ‘rather fun’.

There are two familiar Mazda engines to choose from - a 131ps 1.5-litre unit or the more sporty 160ps 2.0-litre option, tested here.

The engine makes a pleasing sound is it propels the car from a standing start to 62mph in just over seven seconds.

Paired with a slick gearbox, the acceleration feels pretty rapid and the best performance seems to be available when you get above 4,000rpm.

When you opt for the bigger engine, you also get a limited slip differential and larger 17-inch alloy wheels.

The increase in power is most noticeable when overtaking or tackling Yorkshire’s hills. Fortunately, I had the chance to do both during a trip out to drive the twisty road to the 1,719ft summit of Holme Moss, on the border between Kirklees and Derbyshire. In such circumstances, the free-revving engine and firmer handling really come into their own and you feel confident using the car’s full capabilities.

The rear-wheel drive set-up means you get a nice level of feedback from the back end when you get the power down coming out of corners. When you choose the range-topping Sport Nav trim, tested here, you get Bilstein dampers and a strut brace to further enhance the dynamic set up.

Furthermore, in such scenic surroundings, the open air experience makes you feel closer to nature.

If things start to get a little chilly but you want to keep the roof down, the RF is blessed with excellent heated seats and a very effective air conditioning system, which can be put on full and turned to ‘very hot’ to counterbalance the blustery conditions.

When you really do need to put the roof back in place, there’s a consolation in that the car feels refined and quiet in coupe guise. However, as a 6ft 4in driver, I couldn’t help but feel a little cooped up, especially as my head brushed the roof unless I really slumped back into the driver’s seat. In terms of materials used, the cabin has a premium feel, including the impressive black leather seat trim with red stitching.

The controls are laid out in a simple and user-friendly manner, while the sound system includes speakers integrated within the headrests to ensure you can hear the radio even with the roof down.

Would-be buyers will be interested to hear that the RF has just won the ‘Red Dot: Best of the Best’ award for exceptional design. The RF duplicates the success of its convertible sibling, which took the same award in 2015 in one of the world’s largest product competitions.

In conclusion, this rear-wheel drive vehicle is a genuine driver’s car, with more practicality and security than the regular MX-5.