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Mazda previews potential ‘RX-9’ with rotary ICONIC SP concept car

Mazda has used the Japan Mobility Show 2023 to unveil an interesting new concept car it calls the ICONIC SP. And yes, it features a rotary engine. Did someone say RX-9?

The ICONIC SP is just a concept but Mazda describes it as compact sports car designed to adapt to a new era, and as a response to customers who love cars and driving. Speaking about this idea, Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s representative director, president and CEO, said:

“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.’ With such a strong will, Mazda is committed to enrich life-in-motion for those we serve.”

Although that’s not really confirmation of a future production version, it seems Mazda is at least toying with the idea. The ICONIC SP features a “two-rotor rotary EV” powertrain. Specifications haven’t been revealed but the company says the system generates “high output”.

The rotary is able to run on hydrogen as well, generating electricity at carbon-neutral output. It’s unclear if the rotary engine is used purely a range-extender, but it seems that way considering Mazda calls it a “twin-rotor rotary EV” system. In a statement, Mazda said:

“The two-rotor rotary EV system, which utilises a highly scalable rotary engine that can burn various fuels such as hydrogen, generates electricity with carbon-neutral fuel. In addition, when the battery is charged with electricity derived from renewable energy, it is possible to drive in a virtually carbon-neutral state.”

With a weight distribution of around 50:50, and an overall height of just 1150mm, this is sure to be a fun and agile little sports car. The total weight is listed at 1450kg, which is quite light by modern standards.

As for the design, well, it is a spectacular coupe. The front end incorporates Mazda’s pointed styling similar to the current MX-5, while the rear overhang is short and finished with an up-swept theme, again, similar to the MX-5.

So when can we see this in showrooms? Mazda hasn’t confirmed anything, yet, but it says it will “continue to pursue the joy of driving”. We’ve all been waiting for a successor to the RX-8. Could this finally be a preview to an ‘RX-9’? Fingers crossed.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.
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