Mazda Unveils Rotary Hybrid Iconic SP Concept

Published on October 24, 2023 in Tokyo by Vincent Aubé

Tokyo, Japan–Mazda came to the 2023 edition of the Japan Mobility Show with “the joy of driving” in mind, a facet that has always been very important to the Hiroshima-based company. Sports cars such as the legendary RX-7 and the timeless MX-5 have seduced driving enthusiasts around the world, and it's fair to say that this characteristic has spread through the brand's model line throughout history. 

In Tokyo, the brand's star on the show floor looks the part – it seems inspired by the latest generation of the Mazda RX-7, the one that enthusiasts recognize by the name "FD". It also seems to draw inspiration from the best-selling roadster in history, the Mazda MX-5, notably because the front incorporates tiny retractable headlights, a signature element borrowed from the first MX-5 Miata.

Photo: Mazda

Much More Than an MX-5

A brief look at the technical specifications of this Iconic SP concept reveals dimensions that are a little more generous than those of the MX-5. With a length of 4,180 mm and a width of 1,850 mm, the Iconic SP is not only longer than the current MX-5, but it is also wider. The wheelbase isn’t far behind, with 2,590 mm between the two axles.

Where the comparison with the only genuine sports car still marketed by the brand becomes interesting is in terms of weight. This futuristic interpretation of a Mazda sports car weighs in at 1,450 kg, far more than the "1,000 kg and change" of the MX-5 2023.

Photo: Mazda

Electric And Rotary

The Japanese manufacturer is clearly attached to its rotary engine. Despite the fact that the last production car to benefit from this engine was more than a decade ago - the now-defunct 2012 Mazda RX-8 - engineers have never stopped believing in this technology. In fact, the MX-30 electric crossover benefited from the technology earlier in 2023 when the automaker introduced this variant with a single-rotor rotary motor that extends the vehicle's range by recharging the MX-30's battery.

That's what inspired the powertrain built into the skeleton of this Iconic SP concept. Like the electric crossover, the concept is powered exclusively by an electric motor integrated into the chassis, since Mazda promises an almost perfect weight distribution between the two axles.

Photo: Mazda

But the twin totor rotary engine comes in to play right in the middle of the vehicle, as if the designers wanted the combustion engine to resonate inside the passenger compartment. It can also be powered by several other types of fuel, including hydrogen.

Hence, when the car is powered by renewable energies, Mazda considers its car to be carbon neutral.

Mazda Performance In The Electric Age

The automaker also revealed some juicy details about the performance of its powertrain. With 365 horsepower , the Iconic SP promises to continue the long tradition of Mazda sports cars in terms of performance. It will be interesting to see what intentions the brand's engineers have regarding the gearbox situation. For the moment, the concept's cabin doesn't seem to offer the space for a stick, the center console featuring four small buttons for the usual P-R-N-D.

Photo: Mazda

The superb steering wheel, however, comes with paddles mounted behind it, suggesting some form of interactiv gearshift. Will this be the case once Mazda has refined its concept? Mazda fans are already praying for top management to approve this sports car idea, even if such a car is never profitable for any automaker.

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