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Stunning Mazda Iconic SP Concept Is a Rotary Hybrid Sports Car With Pop-Up Headlights

Mazda says it wants to build "a future crafted by the love of cars." This looks like a great start.
Mazda

I guess it’s time for another drop-dead gorgeous Mazda sports car concept. Enter the Mazda Iconic SP, revealed at the Tokyo Auto Show today as perhaps the slickest car to wear a Mazda badge since the RX-Vision in 2015. It’s like a mix between an electrified Miata and an FD RX-7 with a wonderful, triangular twist: a two-rotor rotary hybrid powertrain. Somewhere Peter is looking at all his Mazda rotary hybrid patent stories and having a good laugh.

The release is light on technical details and heavy on hedging, but we’ll do our best to sort through it for you. The Iconic SP measures 164.6 inches from nose to tail as well as 45.3 inches at its roof and 72.8 inches from side to side. That means it’s about 10 inches longer than an ND Miata while being both lower and wider by a noticeable amount. Still firmly in compact sports car territory. With a mid-mounted rotary—though the release doesn’t say whether it’s front- or rear-mid—the car has a low center of gravity and splits its 3,196-pound curb weight nearly 50:50 front to back.

Though Mazda has experimented with small rotary engines as range extenders for electric vehicles, it sounds like this could be more of a conventional hybrid setup, similar to the patent we dug up back in May. The powertrain is only described as a “two-rotor EV system” with a “high [power] output,” and the rotary is designed to burn a number of fuels including hydrogen. Why two rotors if it’s just a range extender for a small battery pack? The release also never calls it an electric car. We’ve asked Mazda for clarification and we’ll update the story if they can provide it.

Mazda says the Iconic SP produces around 365 horsepower, which is more than any of the brand’s classic performance cars can claim. It’s also very forward about its goal for the car; we don’t often quote suits in press releases, but this from Mazda’s CEO Masahiro Moro pretty much says it all:

“Mazda will always deliver vehicles that remind people that cars are pure joy and an indispensable part of their lives,” he said. “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.’”

And how. We can be happy or sad about whatever shape electrification takes here, but we should at least agree on the design. It looks killer, doesn’t it? The photos Mazda provided here aren’t the best but the RX inspiration is clear, especially in this rear three-quarter view. The rear deck is really wide, but the transition from the long hood to the cockpit to the back of the car is so natural.

Also, here’s an Easter egg you might have missed: Those are almost definitely pop-up headlights. It’s like when Elton John re-released Rocket Man with Dua Lipa; you knew you loved the original but you didn’t know the comeback would make you smile so much.

Stunning as it is, it also looks a ways away from a real production model. I’m hopeful that we’ll see at least some of these styling and engineering trends make it to the road in some way. Few manufacturers are positioned the way Mazda is to deliver an undiluted, electrified sports car.

If this is a taste of what’s to come, then I can’t wait to see the real deal.

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