Rotary power could actually make a comeback!
Mazda has returned to the Japan Mobility Show for the first time since 2019, and it dropped the mic with a special concept vehicle called the Iconic SP. The Japanese automaker calls the Iconic SP “a new type of compact sports car concept” that is built for customers who “love cars” and “desire a car that simply embodies the joy of driving.” We doubt the name will make production, but Mazda says the “S” in “SP” stands for Spirit, not unlike the old RX-7 Spirit R, while the “P” stands for “passion.”
Nowhere in the press release does it mention the RX-7, but this car was clearly inspired Mazda’s iconic rotary-powered sports car. Such a car has been rumored for years, so the Iconic SP truly feels like Mazda answering the prayers of car enthusiasts.
As-evidenced by patents from Mazda, the company has not given up on the Wankel rotary engine. This may be a concept, but Mazda has shared some details about the unique two-rotor rotary EV system. Mazda says the rotary engine is highly scalable and can burn alternative fuels such as hydrogen. In other words, this sports car can be run in a carbon-neutral state.
The electric motors combined with the rotary engine deliver a total output of 365 horsepower, over 100 hp more than the turbocharged RX-7. Mazda managed to keep the car relatively light by modern standards with a curb weight of just under 3,200 pounds. That’s only around 240 lbs more than the heaviest version of the RX-7, which wasn’t saddled by the creature comforts demanded of a modern sports car. Mazda touts an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 3.9 and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
That RX-7-inspired exterior comes finished in the latest amazing shade of red from Mazda called Viola Red. The new hue combines Mazda’s corporate “enrich life-in-motion for those we serve” philosophy with the company’s desire to “cherish the color red.” This concept is actually a bit shorter than the RX-7 at 164.5 inches (the RX-7 was 169 inches) but the wheelbase is longer at just under 102 inches (the RX-7 was 95.4).
The car features an extremely low hood that only a rotary engine could allow for; all that’s missing are some pop-up headlights. In fact, the whole car is only 45.3 inches tall, nearly three inches shorter than the RX-7. It even features the iconic rounded door shape from the RX-7, which lift upwards slightly, similar to an Aston Martin. Those doors open to reveal a pretty simple cabin featuring a small infotainment screen, a gauge cluster screen, and a few switches on the center console.
“Mazda will always deliver vehicles that remind people that cars are pure joy and an indispensable part of their lives. 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.’ With such a strong will, Mazda is committed to enrich life-in-motion for those we serve.”
If Mazda doesn’t put this car into production, it would be a crime against the car enthusiast community. This is the big brother that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has deserved since the RX-8 left production more than a decade ago.