M-Speedster Mazda Miata Concept
Mazda Miata M-Speedster
After a half decade of top-down thrills, the nimble Miata had attained a cult-like following among driving enthusiasts. To fuel excitement for the popular-but-aging roadster, Mazda's designers were challenged with creating a stylized Miata to gauge public opinion regarding evolutionary changes. Judging from the reactions this car had garnered at auto shows in the year of its showcase, and 5000 subsequent phone calls from excited enthusiasts, the eye-popping M Speedster styling exercise was certainly termed a success.
The large Hella lamps were considered by designers to be "cheeks," flanking the airdam "mouth." As Tom Matano, executive vice president for Mazda Research and Development of North America, said, "It gives the impression that the Miata is breathing hard during a workout." Meanwhile, the standard pop-up headlamps were replaced with low-profile PIAA projector beams for improved visibility and beady-eyed styling.
The body is enhanced with flared fenders, giving it a svelte Coke-bottle-like shape. Beneath the arched wheelwells are a set of Yokohama AVS 215/50ZR15 tires on 15x7-inch TSW Stealth wheels with custom M Speedster center caps. Along the side of the car, sculpted rocker panels and curved door lines continue the smooth refinement of the Miata's dimensions. At the rear, a decklid spoiler and lower valance complete the body treatment. The chopped Plexiglas windshield blends into small shark-fin glass pieces on the doors. The high-mounted side mirrors are stock units, flipped upside down and used on the opposite sides. The stretched-neck rear-view mirror serves double-duty as a center windshield support.
Despite its Miata-on-steroids appearance, the Speedster wasn't built strictly for show. It's a fully functional "one-off" touting a catalog's worth of performance modifications. The lowered stance comes from a 1.5-inch drop courtesy of custom-wound progressive-rate springs and adjustable Koni shocks. To further enhance handling, the track was widened a half inch (via the wider wheels), and adjustable anti-roll bars are used fore and aft.
Under the hood, Mazda's tech gurus added a Lysholm-type (supercharger) compressor, chosen for its instantaneous boost response. An air-to-air intercooler mounted in front of the radiator helps maximize the performance of the supercharger's 10.0 psi of output, which is monitored by an MSD boost-control unit. Internally, the engine is balanced and blueprinted to ensure optimum performance from the stock block, and the pistons were exchanged for ceramic-coated units that can reliably tolerate the increased stresses. To handle the resulting 200-horsepower output, a high-performance dual-friction clutch was installed. The five-speed transmission remains stock, with a 4.1:1 gear ratio and the optional Torsen limited-slip differential.
Black leather with striking red stitching wraps just about everything in the interior. The body color pours in from behind the seats and over the doors, giving the car an organic, integrated look. Behind the seat, carbon-fiber-lined humps house body-color full-face helmets, emphasizing the firm connection between this aggressive Miata and the racetrack. At idle, the growling exhaust note and faint supercharger whine hint at the car's performance capabilities.
The M-Speedster concept car bridged the gap between the NA Roadster and the NB Roadster, illustrating not only the platform's potential but giving an exciting glimpse at the future.