Mazda ICONIC SP concept revealed: an electrified RX-7 successor?

Mazda is looking at making a new rotary sports car, but this time with a battery and electric motor

The rotary engine is synonymous with Mazda, thanks to iconic models like the RX-7 and Cosmo. And now there’s hope of a new rotary sports car, with the ICONIC SP concept. 

If the ICONIC SP looks familiar, then you’ll have probably seen the Vision Study Model concept revealed in late 2022. Details on the digital-only concept were slim at launch, but now it’s grown into a proper concept, unveiled at 2023 Tokyo Motor Show alongside an updated version of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5. 

At the reveal of the ICONIC SP, Mazda President and CEO, Masahiro Moro said: “We love the MX-5, and the world loves the MX-5. We are determined in the age of electrification to keep the joy of driving which the MX-5 represents alive, and the Mazda ICONIC SP, with its dual rotary power generator EV powertrain, is our dream solution.” 

The actual size of the ICONIC SP (4,180mm long, 1,850mm wide and 1,150mm tall) is much closer to the final FD-generation RX-7. With rotary power plus the SP’s sleek design, it’s impossible not to make the link to Mazda’s nineties sports car icon. 

The maker only just launched a new rotary hybrid – the MX-30 R-EV – which utilises a single rotor to power the electric motor as a range-extender. The ICONIC SP has two rotors instead, but also comes with an electric powertrain, which Mazda says is ideal for sports car packages. It claims the rotary engine will be able to burn a multitude of fuels, including hydrogen. 

Mazda says the ICONIC SP weighs 1,450kg. While that is over 100kg more than the FD RX-7, it’s relatively lightweight compared to, for example, the latest BMW M2 (1,725kg). Power output for the ICONIC SP has been claimed as 370bhp – around 100bhp more than the final edition of the FD. 

In terms of design, the SP looks almost identical to the Vision Study Model concept, aside from a new headlight cluster. The sleek coupe profile, low bonnet, smooth surfacing, curved side window and overall proportions all mimic the FD RX-7, too. 

Inside the minimalist cabin, we can see a gear selector for an automatic gearbox, and a touchscreen in the middle of the dash with readouts on regenerative braking, launch control, active aerodynamics, G-force vectoring control and a 360-degree camera. The driver’s display has a G-force readout and a mini-map of Monaco’s street circuit.

It’s too early to suggest an on-sale date, or even predict an accurate timeframe for when we might see the production version of the ICONIC SP. However, given the current MX-5 is now approaching nine years old, its lifespan is surely limited; a road-ready SP could surface by the middle of the decade.

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