Sports cars seem to be getting a lot of play at the Japan Mobility Show this year with several other automakers offering up sporty concepts. Mazda certainly got the memo, showing off the Mazda Iconic SP, which is clearly inspired by the company’s past and present.
Mazda’s putting the emphasis on sports cars at this year’s Japan Mobility Show, with an emphasis on its iconic MX-5 Miata.
The appropriately named Mazda Iconic SP concept offers a glimpse of what a future version of the little sports car could be. But the show car also picks up some distinctive cues from both the old RX-8, as well as the current MX-30 model.
What’s most distinctive is the use of a battery-electric drivetrain backed up by a rotary engine range-extender similar to what’s found in numerous overseas markets under the hood of the MX-30 e-Skyactive R-EV.
“Mazda will always deliver vehicles that remind people that cars are pure joy and an indispensable part of their lives,” said the automaker’s President and CEO Masahiro Moro.” 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.’”
Though short on specific details, it appears the rotary is capable of directly powering the show car’s electric motors — churning out as much as 365 horsepower in current — or simply serving as a generator to keep the vehicle’s batteries charged up.
Mazda says it even goes green, or at least greener, with the Iconic SP’s internal combustion engine.
“The two-rotor rotary EV system, which utilizes a highly scalable rotary engine that can burn various fuels such as hydrogen, generates electricity with carbon-neutral fuel,” said Mazda in a statement. “In addition, when the battery is charged with electricity derived from renewable energy, it is possible to drive in a virtually carbon-neutral state.”
The battery drive and range-extender system also offers V2H, or two-way, vehicle-to-home, charging capabilities.
“Although it is a sports car, it can supply power when enjoying outdoor leisure and in the time of a disaster,” Mazda explained.
Not a Miata wannabe
The Iconic SP measures 164.6 inches in length, a good 10 inches longer than the Miata, with a wheelbase that, at 102 inches, is 11 inches longer. The concept also stands three inches shorter, though it’s also four inches wider than the Miata.
The use of a compact rotary helps shorten the show car’s nose, translating into still more interior space than the MX-5. And by mounting it low, it helps improve the Iconic SP’s center-of gravity, with a 50:50 front-to-back weight distribution.
Visually, the Iconic SP adopts a Coke-bottle shape, with aggressively flared wheel arches. And, in what would be a very retro touch, it appears to use pop-up headlights, much like the first two generations of the Miata.
In its statement, the automaker said, “we aimed to achieve proportions with a low center of gravity that would give the impression of excellent driving performance. The concept of mounting the lightweight and compact rotary engine in the center of the car has resulted in a low hood.”
Like many new EVs, Mazda designers opted for a minimalist cabin layout. There’s a small gauge cluster visible through the steering wheel, and a modest-sized infotainment screen atop the center stack. What appear to be several additional slider controls rise out of the center console.
Where Mazda takes the Iconic SP concept is far from certain. The automaker is emphasizing the Miata at its Japan Mobility Show booth. Whether the new battery-and-rotary concept has a future in the automaker’s line-up is something Mazda isn’t ready to talk about.