At the Japan Mobility Show, alongside the premiere of the updated 2024 MX-5, Mazda unveiled the Iconic SP. This concept car marries a dual rotary powertrain with an EV platform, a powertrain approach Mazda recently debuted in the Mazda MX-30 R-EV, an EV with a range extender.
“The Mazda Iconic SP is a compact sports car concept designed to adapt to a new era, and shows the company’s continued commitment to creating products that satisfy customers‘ love of driving and cars,” commented the company.
The concept achieves a low center of gravity to deliver excellent driving performance. Its unique proportions are made possible by a low hood, achieved by mounting the lightweight and compact rotary engine in the car’s center.
“The idea of a two-rotor rotary EV system would deliver a highly scalable engine with a flexible layout and the ability to burn various fuels, including hydrogen, making it a Mazda-unique technology ideal for sports car packages. And if the battery is charged with electricity derived from renewable energy, it is possible to drive in a virtually carbon-neutral state,” the official press release states.
Mazda seems to be confirming now the question they wanted to avoid when we were talking to them at the Brussels Motor Show in January regarding the MX-30 with (a rotary-engined) range extender. Of course, this engine is very suitable for burning hydrogen; they proved it earlier with an RX-8 prototype.
Unveiling the concept, 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.”
“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.”
The Iconic SP is a low-slung, very compact coupé, measuring 4,18 m in length, 1,85 m in width, and 1,15 m in height. It sits on a wheelbase of 2,59 m and weighs 1 450 kg, a lot more than a common MX-5 due to the presence of a battery pack and two engines, a rotary engine serving as a generator, and an electromotor driving the rear wheels.
Mazda hasn’t given much more information on the car, except that its maximum power is around 370 hp and that its power-to-weight ratio is 3,9.
MX-5 2024 model year
Along with the Mazda Iconic SP, several versions of Mazda’s brand icon MX-5 are on display on the Mazda stand in Tokyo, including the latest MX-5 model year 2024, a significant upgrade of the fourth-generation model with new LED headlights and rear lights, along with changes to the interior to further enhance the driving experience.
The 2024 model has an additional driving mode, DSC-Track, where the dynamic stability control (DSC) prioritizes the driver’s skills and only comes in when the car threatens to get in a spin the driver can’t control anymore. Mazda wants to stimulate its MX-5 clients to go and enjoy themselves safely on a circuit, following the leading principles of the ‘Jinba-Ittai’ philosophy the company so dearly cherishes.
2 million rotary engines produced
Mazda Motor Corporation also announced that the total production volume of Mazda rotary engine vehicles has surpassed two million units.
The first vehicle Mazda equipped with a rotary engine was the Mazda Cosmo Sport (Mazda 110S), introduced in 1967. From there, Mazda continued to refine the performance of their rotary engines, improving output, fuel economy, and durability and maintaining their position as the only automaker mass-producing rotary engines for many years.
In June this year, Mazda resumed production of rotary engine vehicles for the first time in eleven years after having ended production of the Mazda RX-8 in 2012. The company will now start selling its twelfth rotary-engine vehicle, the Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV2.
Takeshi Mukai, Director, and Senior Managing Executive Officer at Mazda, said in a comment: “The rotary engine is a special part of Mazda history and represents our ‘never-stop challenging spirit’. The rotary engine is much loved by customers worldwide, and we are excited to resume production and see it make a comeback.”