Aside from their 15 minutes of fame on auto show stands, concept cars usually lead short and unglamorous lives. After their unveilings, these show cars are often shunted off to warehouses to be forgotten, or simply crushed. But one recent Mazda concept was simply too cool to kill.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata Speedster debuted a year ago at the 2015 SEMA show, and now it’s back, along with another, new Miata-based show car. In case you missed it, the MX-5 Speedster is a Miata sports car with a cut-down windshield and no convertible top, which shaved 150 pounds from the stock Miata’s curb weight in the Speedster’s original configuration.
Following last year’s SEMA show and an outing at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Speedster went back to Mazda’s California design studio for an upgrade. Mazda replaced the dashboard with a digital display, swapped in lighter Brembo front brakes form the Miata Sport and Grand Touring models, and substituted a lithium-ion battery in place of the stock battery for further weight savings. Also, the car is white now.
The result is an additional weight decrease of 100 pounds, bringing the total weight of what Mazda now calls the Miata Speedster Evolution down to just 1,980 pounds. That’s a 15 percent savings from the stock Miata, and nothing short of a miracle for a modern car. Mazda also added suspension and slick tires from its Global MX-5 Cup race car.
Alongside the Miata Speedster Evolution, Mazda unveiled the MX-5 Miata RF Kuro, which is based on the retractable hardtop version of the Miata that debuted earlier this year at the 2016 New York Auto Show. The Kuro shares its suspension and brakes with the Global MX-5 Cup race car, and is painted in a subdued hue Mazda calls Satin Black Metallic.
The RF replaces the previous-generation retractable-hardtop Miata, which was always somewhat controversial because the added weight of its roof mechanism seemed to clash with the Miata’s mission of lightweight purity. This time around, Mazda at least added an extra dose of style by using a targa-style folding roof panel, giving the RF the appearance of a sleek fastback coupe. RF actually stands for “retractable fastback.”