So it turns out that Mazda’s Japan Mobility Show reveal was not a preview of the next Miata. Instead, it drew on one of its other sports car pillars, the third-generation FD RX-7 for what’s called the Iconic SP. And it not only takes inspiration from its styling, but the powertrain, too.
From the outside, the FD cues are undeniable. It’s taut, curvy and athletic. It has a subtly bubbly rear glass area and hidden door handles. And most of all, it actually has pop-up headlights. The circular taillights also draw from the later FD models. There are of course modern touches such as the current Mazda grille and angular headlights, which again, are retractable. It’s fairly compact, too, at about 10 inches shorter than an RX-8, though about 10 inches longer than the current Miata.
The interior is, just like the FD, minimal and driver-centric. The dash is generally unadorned save for the instrument binnacle ahead of the driver and a small infotainment screen positioned low in the center stack. The transmission is some sort of automatic as indicated by the switches in the center console that has a design that emulates a gated shifter, not unlike some modern Ferraris.�
Mazda only gave very high-level details about the powertrain. It is a twin-rotor hybrid, and the fact that Mazda CEO Masahiro Moro mentioned in the press conference that it can provide off-board power, seems to suggest it could be a plug-in hybrid, though that’s unconfirmed. Mazda said that it’s a “highly-scalable” engine, but we’re not sure if that means it would be easy to ramp up manufacturing, or if it would be easy to add or subtract rotor units for different vehicles. It’s also designed to run on hydrogen or “carbon-neutral” fuels, and it could presumably run on gasoline, too. Combined output for the Iconic SP’s twin-rotor setup is 364 horsepower, but Mazda didn’t elaborate on how that power is split between the engine and electric motor (or motors), nor how it gets to the wheels. For that matter, it didn’t say whether it powers just the rear wheels or all four. Though with Mazda, rear-wheel drive is a pretty strong bet for a sports car. The whole thing weighs in at 3,197 pounds, with the weight distributed equally front and rear.
Considering how gorgeous the Iconic SP is, and how good Mazda is at building sports cars, we would love to see this reach production. How likely that is in its current form is the question. Mazda has reintroduced a rotary in Europe with the MX-30, but that hasn’t, and won’t, make it to America. We’re also not sure what else would take advantage of this powertrain, which would make it expensive to launch. Maybe Mazda could do it, but we’re not going to get our hopes up for it to reach reality. Or at least we won’t too much.