If an electric Mazda MX-5 is what the future holds, this Iconic SP concept shows how rotary power could help the coupe to remain a true driver’s car.

It’s all systems go over at the Tokyo Mobility Show. Amongst the flurry of newly-revealed cars and concepts, there’s this, the Mazda Iconic SP concept. As far as we can gather, it’s here to answer one very important question. If Mazda sports cars are to become electric in the future, how will they retain common DNA with the MX-5s and RX-7s that have gone before them. Well, in a very on-brand turn of events for Mazda, the answer seems to be rotary. Let me explain…

Mazda hybrid rotary engines

Truth be told, this has been on the cards for a while now. You may remember a little while ago when Mazda re-launched is range-deprived MX-30 EV as a hybrid. Normally, we wouldn’t care one jot about that sort of news, but the hybrid powertrain in question made us all raise our eyebrows a little. See, we thought that Mazda’s commitment to producing rotary engines died with the RX-8’s Renesis, but no! We were wrong. The MX-30 R-EV uses a rotary combustion engine to enhance the range of its electric powertrain, so although it’s not directly powering the wheels, there’s still a small Wankel heart at the core of the stylish crossover SUV. Even back then at the launch of that car, it didn’t take long for people to make the connection about what this could mean for future Mazda sports cars. And now, with the Iconic SP concept, it appears as though those suspicions have come to fruition.

Mazda Iconic SP Concept interior

Mazda Iconic SP Concept

Ok, so, let’s get one thing straight first and foremost. This isn’t a new MX-5 – in fact, we’ve done a whole separate article on the new 2024 MX-5 which you can read about if you like. Instead, this is a concept car, which means it won’t be seeing any production lines (for now). What it does do, however, is give us some serious hints about the next generation of MX-5. When you read about this concept and what it says about the future, it’s almost as if the Mazda corporation is winking really obviously at you between each line. In fact, here’s what Mazda President and CEO, Masahiro Moro, has to say about it:

“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. A dream we will work hard to launch. Mazda will always deliver vehicles that remind people that cars are pure joy and an indispensable part of their lives.”

Amen. Now let’s get into the detail of this concept, shall we?

Mazda Iconic SP concept with doors open


As we’ve been suggesting, the powertrain is by far the most notable thing going on here. The Iconic SP concept features a two-rotor Wankel engine as part of its electric powertrain, similar to that of the MX-30 R-EV. However, unlike the MX-30 R-EV, Mazda states that the total output of the Iconic SP as a rather spritely 370hp. That would theoretically make it (or future models like it) the most powerful standard MX-5 ever built. It’s also mid-mounted, which is cool.

One particularly intriguing line from Mazda is that this powertrain seems to be quite modular in the sense that its highly customizable in the engineering and design phase. Mazda refers to different capacities and even different fuel sources (like hydrogen) as being possible options for the future of this core powertrain idea. That means it could have uses in all sorts of vehicle genres, be them large or small, sensible or sporty.

rear quarter of Mazda Iconic SP concept


Of course, whenever powerful electric cars are spoken about, the caveat is always weight. It’s one thing making a vehicle travel quickly while weighing as much as cruiseliner, but weight (or a lack thereof) is crucial to how enjoyable and engaging a car is to drive. Now, obviously, Mazda isn’t promising that future electrified sports cars will be as featherweight as the current ND-generation MX-5. That thing tips the scales at around 2200lbs/1000kg. However, the quoted figure for the Iconic SP concept is 1450kg (3197lbs), and that really doesn’t sound too bad.

The wheelbase is 2590mm and it has an overall length of 4180mm, plus a width of 1850mm. Those dimensions are again conducive of agility, but notably are more in line with the segment of sports car one step up from the current MX-5. Though, I still wouldn’t recommend putting your money on this concept’s successor getting an RX-7 badge instead of an MX-5 one. But hey, stranger things have happened.

Anyway, if you want to see the Iconic SP concept’s live unveiling, watch the video below. It’s in Japanese, but there are English subtitles if you’re not fluent.