Skip to main content

No top, no windshield, just fun. Mazda’s Speedster Evolution concept is nuts

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.

Read more: Modernized 1971 Dodge Challenger headlines Chrysler’s SEMA lineup

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.”

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Mazda’s slick engineering prototypes could preview the next MX-5 Cup racecar
Mazda MX-5 Cup prototype

There’s a lot to love about Mazda’s Global MX-5 Cup series. It may not be the fastest race, but its low barrier to entry and homogeneous competitive field make it a must-see for no-frills racers and fans alike.

The 2015 season is currently underway, but Mazda is already looking ahead. The brand unleashed twin engineering prototypes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this week, highlighting the final round of testing for the 2016 Cup car.

Read more
Mazda’s new MX-5 will spawn a Fiat roadster dubbed the 124
Mazda MX-5

The fourth-generation ‘ND’ Mazda MX-5 was revealed last year to much acclaim. The sharply angled, aggressively styled roadster hasn’t even been released yet, but there have already been several planned offshoots.

First, the car was suggested to be the basis for a rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Spider, but the project was ultimately shelved late last year. The MX-5 was then rumored to spawn a Fiat Abarth model, but a new report by Autocar confirms the automaker has other plans.

Read more
EV vs. PHEV vs. hybrid: What’s the difference?
BMW X5 PHEV charge port

When sizing up options for your next car, you may be figuring out whether to get an electric vehicle, only to discover there are a bunch of variations to consider -- not just hybrids, but plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles are just some of the other categories. The depths of EV jargon run so deep that we wrote an entire EV glossary, but for now let's zero in on the difference between electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. These options blend old tech and new tech in a way that's often practical, cheaper than an EV, and still more efficient than an old-school gasoline car.
What is an electric vehicle?
An electric vehicle skips the internal combustion engine found in most traditional cars in favor of an electric motor. This allows EVs to operate without needing gasoline. Instead, they're powered by an electric battery that will need to be charged regularly, either at your home or at a charging station like a Tesla Supercharger. The Ford Mach-E, Kia EV6, and Rivian R1S are all popular examples of modern EVs.

The electric motor works by way of a rotating magnetic field. Inside the motor, three electromagnets surround a free-floating rotor, which spins based on which magnet is attracting it most. That rotor in turn produces power to the wheels of the car and pushes it forward and backward. Regenerative braking reverses the relationship and turns motion into electricity. While you're slowing to a stop, the force of the turning wheels spins the rotor and generates a charge via the electromagnets in the motor, which in turn goes up into the battery for storage. If you're curious, you can dig into the nuts and bolts of how an electric vehicle works.
What's the difference between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid?
In short, a hybrid primarily relies on gas with an electric backup, while a plug-in hybrid relies on electric power with a gas backup.

Read more