The concept – previewed digitally a few months ago and presented as the centrepiece of a celebration of the MX-5 on Mazda’s Tokyo show stand – uses a rotary powertrain developed from that of the recently launched MX-30 R-EV crossover.
The Iconic SP uses a twin-rotor rotary engine (the MX-30’s is a single rotor) as a generator to charge a 17.8kWh battery on the move, rather than as an alternative means of driving the wheels itself.
Mazda claims the Iconic SP concept has 370bhp at its disposal – close to double that of the most powerful version of today's MX-5.
Tipping the scales at 1450kg – roughly on a par with the four-cylinder Lotus Emira, which produces 360bhp – the concept should be, theoretically, significantly faster than any road-going Mazda so far.
Mazda says a rotary range-extender powertrain makes sense for an electric sports car because it can be configured in a variety of layouts for optimum weight distribution and packaging. Here, for example, the tightly packaged petrol engine is housed in the middle of the car, which promotes a low centre of gravity while allowing for a long, probing front bonnet and cab-rear silhouette.
The two-seater concept measures 4180mm long, 1850mm wide and 1150mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2590mm, which makes it closer in size to the Alpine A110 than the MX-5.
The combination of the proportions, size, powertrain and packaging is what makes this “concept a demonstration to ourselves that what technologies we can put in a compact sports car” in the future, Mazda’s chief financial officer, Jeff Guyton, told Autocar. “We have packaging feasibility for things we’re talking about.
Guyton added: “By itself, the concept is not intended to be the next MX-5 or something else, although if the responses are great, that’s a nice indication that there could be some market for this.”