Would You Buy a Dual Rotor, RX-7-Adjacent Mazda Sports Car?

a red car with a white background
Mazda Is Pushing the Sports Car ForwardMazda
  • Mazda has cemented its sports car legend status with models like the MX-5 and RX-7, but it doesn't plan on letting up anytime soon, either.

  • Unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo, Mazda's new Iconic SP concept ushers in a new era of Hiroshima-built sports cars, specifically with 21st-century technology.

  • Powered by a two-rotor, hybrid-electric powerplant and with a 50:50 weight distribution, Mazda aims to compete in a higher-price, better-performance sports car segment.

Continuing to produce the Miata for over two decades is a triumph enough to cement Mazda as one of the modern keepers of sports car heritage. No matter how crossover and SUV-focused the Hiroshima-based brand has become, it manages to produce and sell a genuinely quality roadster in 2023. But Mazda wasn't always pigeonholed like this.


In fact, Mazda's legacy lays out a slew of innovative, performance-strong models, from the legendary RX-7 to its Subaru STI-competing Mazdaspeed 6. Better yet, it's Mazda's two-door coupes that have stood the test of time, and the company plans to continue this trend.

red mazda iconic sp concept under white photo cloth
The style is reminiscent of early 21st-century TVRs with a splash of FerrariMazda

And it's doing so in a spectacular way, revealing the new Mazda Iconic SP concept at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo. With a quintessential smiley mouth, protruding fenders, and a low-slung chassis, Mazda is blending its FD RX-7 heritage with a modern interpretation of a TVR, though the real shock of the Iconic SP concept is its powertrain.

Mazda claims this one-day-road-worthy concept will be powered by a twin-rotor EV system. If it was hard to understand how a two-rotor, twin-turbo engine functioned in the final RX-7 iteration, then we're all certainly in for a 21st-century wakeup call in the form of Mazda's Iconic SP concept.

By using a highly scalable, hydrogen-fueled rotary engine, Mazda says its rotary resurgence powerplant will primarily be used for power generation, while the hybrid-electric system adds some pep. This is all preliminary, of course, as Mazda was coy about the specifics of its potentially revolutionary propulsion configuration.

We haven't been able to pull out a measuring tape to verify these figures ourselves, but Mazda teased enough dimensions to give us some idea of the Iconic SP concept's size. At 164.6 inches long, 72.8 inches wide, and 45.3 inches tall, this compact coupe sizes up against the likes of Subaru's BRZ, though the claimed 365 hp pits it against the BMW M240i.

a red sports car in white photo studio
Big, five-spoke wheels indicate that all-electric range isn’t likely a major consideration for Mazda.Mazda

And it'll be relatively light, at least by today's standards. Weighing in at 3200 pounds, it'll balance out the scales with a Porsche 718 Cayman. A 50:50 weight distribution—a result of its compact rotary engine—isn't anything to complain about either. It is shaping up to be competitive across the sports car market, if it ever reaches production.

Being an electrified vehicle means simply running and driving isn't enough for modern consumers, no matter how fast or efficient. So, Mazda says its hybrid-electric system will be able to supply power for tailgates and in times of disaster as well. This isn't exactly why we buy sports cars, but such broad thinking is characteristic of Mazda's design.

a car steering wheel and dashboard in the mazda iconic sp concept
There is certainly no manual transmission to be found in the minimalistic cockpit. Mazda

Very little about the inspiration behind the design was revealed, though its dimensions suggest it will be competitive in the second car market, as opposed to the do-it-all sporting model. Mazda was enthused by its own Viola Red paint choice, as it aims to "cherish the color red" and "enrich life-in-motion." Insurance companies and the po-po will get ready.

Sprinkled into this buzzword soup was Mazda's outright commitment to pursuing the joy of driving, which we can certainly get behind. Honda is echoing the same driving-first sentiment with its new Prelude concept, too.

Without pricing or production confirmed, it's easy to be cynical, but the resurgence of true sports cars is appreciated.

"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,'" said Masahiro Moro, Mazda's Representative Director, President and CEO.

How much do you think the Mazda Iconic SP model will cost? Mazda vehicles have been historically affordable, but such a complex powertrain could spike prices. Please share your thoughts below.