GRR

Mazda Iconic SP Concept heralds the return of the rotary sportscar

24th October 2023
Ethan Jupp

Mazda sportscars will live on for another generation, albeit having undergone some dramatic changes, for suitability in a sustainable, lower-emissions, higher-performance future. Meet the Mazda Iconic SP Concept and even though the roof, hips and swooping lines scream ‘RX-7’, this is understood to be a look at where the MX-5 is to go next.

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But it really does have ‘FD’ energy, doesn’t it? Regardless, it is an asbolutely delightful-looking thing – small, with smooth surfacing, great proportions and delightful detailing. Those pseudo pop-up lights aren’t likely to make production but we’re quite taken with the new interpretation of the rounded rears.

The upward-swinging doors aren’t likely to hit showrooms either, much like those knife-like wing mirrors but most of what you see – the silhouette, the overall vibe – is what we’ll get when the production version of this car is revealed, even if it’s a little bit more slender at its four corners.

What is extremely interesting is what’s set to power this thing. As above, Mazda sportscars be they RX- or MX-badged, need to evolve for a cleaner future. As such, this Iconic SP Concept features an electric range extender powertrain not unlike the Mazda MX-30 REV. Yes, it’s a rotary – two-rotor in this case, as opposed to the MX-30’s single-rotor – for a total output of 370PS.

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That’s quite the chunk over the current MX-5 and sounds very much more RX-esque to us. Even the engine being a rotary, would suggest an RX badge but we’ll have to see. It works exactly the same as it does in the MX-30 too, with the engine only there to charge the batteries, with no physical connection to the powered wheels. As you'll note by the cabin too, it looks like there's no manual transmission either, given this is effectively an EV with a petrol generator attached. How that'll go down with the purists, we're not so sure... Obviously, the engine is ‘powered by a carbon-neutral fuel’, which Mazda says can be hydrogen, sustainable fuel and more.

What a small electric battery and generator engine mean is that the Iconic SP can stay lightweight. In this specification, it weighs in at 1,450kg at the kerb, which while a heft more than the MX-5 or RX sportscars of the past, is positively featherweight compared to almost all other EVs. Mazda also says the weight distribution front to rear is a perfect 50:50, largely helped by the engine being positioned almost exactly central in the car.

On the inside, it certainly look a bit more plush than the average MX-5. We have a very swanky new wheel and carbon seats which along with the dash are trimmed in a dark blue alcantara material. Premium toggle drive selection controls sit below  a small performance-oriented infotainment, both atop a prominent ‘transmission tunnel’, which gives a very cockpit-like look. Within the OLED driver’s binnacle we see a circuit map and a g metre either side of the speedo. Serious stuff.

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“Mazda will always deliver vehicles that remind people that cars are pure joy and an indispensable part of their lives,” said Mazda CEO Masahiro Moro on the reveal of the Iconic SP.

“As a car-loving company that mass-produces the inspiring mobility experience, we are committed to shaping the future with our partners sharing the same goal, as well as our fans, where everyone can proudly say, 'we love cars’.”

Now, we as Mazda sportscar fans have been here before, with a lovely concept sat before us, only to be told it’s not going to happen. RX-Vision, we miss you. But believe it, this thing is set for production in one form or another and we can’t wait to see it. The wait is on to 2026, probably at the earliest.

  • Mazda

  • SP Iconic Concept

  • MX-5

  • RX-7

  • Japan Mobility Show 2023

  • Road

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