Between the Mazda 3, CX-5, and the recently released CX-4, it would seem there’d be no room for something new in Mazda’s refreshed lineup. But that notion goes right out the window as soon as the Miata is mentioned. More than any other car the automaker has put out in the last twenty plus years, the Miata is most closely associated with the Japanese automaker; it’s part of Mazda’s DNA.

So when asked if we wanted to check out the new Mazda MX-5 RF before it was crated up to head back to Japan, we couldn’t say no. You might have seen the MX-5 RF already, unveiled at the New York Auto Show a few weeks ago. But seeing it at Mazda’s headquarters in Irvine, CA afforded us the opportunity to see it off the show floor and in its natural habitat.

The Miata has been Mazda’s halo car for the past few decades, something the company continues to support despite, as one company rep admitted, not really turning a profit. But that’s exactly why it has such a fervent cult following. Ask any Miata owner and they’ll tell you just how damn fun the car is to drive.

The RF in the MX-5 RF stands for Retractable Fastback, meaning it has a folding roof that takes up no additional space when the top is down. Mazda demonstrated how the roof mechanism works, and it takes all of ten seconds or so for the full operation to complete. Up or down, the car looks phenomenal no matter what—like a mini Ferrari.

Mazda North America Design Director Julien Montousse explained how important the design was, particularly getting the MX-5’s silhouette right, which he said is meant to elicit emotions from drivers. Montousse felt so strongly about getting the profile just right that he and his team spent several months on the C Pillar alone.

The car comes with a 155 hp SkyActive engine and is available in 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. But, I mean, when you drive a car like this, you’ll want manual so you have complete control over the driving experience.

According to Mazda, the MX-5 RF isn’t going to be available until next spring. Until then, feast your eyes on the pictures in the gallery above.