Blog

Back to Library >
ti icon

Blog

Mazda’s Tokyo showstopper

4 months ago

not bookmarked

Writer:

Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder

Date:

25 October 2023

Who else almost spat out their morning tea upon seeing Mazda’s Iconic SP concept car, unveiled overnight in Tokyo?

I reckon it could be the prettiest concept car of the last five years. Maybe the last decade. To me it looks like the work of an Italian carrozzeria. Pininfarina, perhaps. 

Mazda’s Tokyo showstopper

It previews a future Mazda sports car and while the accompanying press release references the MX-5 no fewer than 10 times in a few short paragraphs, to me it seems more like a successor to the RX-7 and RX-8 than Mazda’s best-selling roadster. It’s a coupé, for one thing, and much bigger than an MX-5 (265mm longer and 120mm wider), far heavier at 1450kg and much more powerful, too. More on that in a moment. 

Mazda’s Tokyo showstopper

The Iconic SP is as wide as a Toyota GR Supra, only fractionally shorter and comparable in terms of power and weight. I could do without its overlapping twin round taillights, but in every other regard it looks flawless to me. Could its pinched waist, tightly wrapped bodywork, paper-thin arch/tyre clearance and very low bonnet possibly survive the journey from show stand to showroom? A production model, if it happens, is unlikely to look so arresting.

Mazda’s Tokyo showstopper

The car’s powertrain is particularly interesting. It uses a twin-rotor Wankel engine to recharge a battery, which in turn powers an electric motor (or motors; Mazda hasn’t said) producing 365bhp. The rotary engine can burn any suitable fuel, including petrol and synthetic fuels, as well as hydrogen, meaning carbon-neutral running. Mazda already has a similar powertrain in production in the MX-30 R-EV crossover, so it’s no flight of fancy. 

Mazda’s Tokyo showstopper

The advantage of this sort of range-extender hybrid setup is that the car needn’t carry an enormous battery, helping to keep weight down. There will be packaging benefits too, because there’s no need to accommodate a large combustion engine, a gearbox or a propshaft running the length of the car. Mazda calls this powertrain its ‘dream solution’ for future sports cars, saying it’s a dream it will ‘work hard to launch’. I really hope it does. 

Mazda Iconic SP

1