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The Mazda Iconic SP Concept: Is It the New Miata in Disguise?

Forget your rotary dreams, this is the NE Miata

Mazda Iconic SP Concept front 3/4
  • The Mazda Iconic SP is a new concept with a crazy rotary powertrain.
  • But what Mazda isn't saying is that this is likely the next Miata.
  • While we're still waiting on our rotary-powered dream machine, this is certainly not bad news.

Meet the Mazda Iconic SP, a new mid-engine sports car concept from the Japanese automaker that might finally herald the release of a new rotary-powered sports car from the brand. Only, that's not at all what we here at Edmunds think this is. What we think you're looking at is the next iteration of the brand's most iconic car: The New Miata.

According to the good people at Mazda, this new sports car shape is "a new type of compact sports car concept, designed to adopt to the new era and respond to the emotions of customers who 'love cars' and 'desire a car that simply embodies the joy of driving.'" First off, that sounds a lot like the Miata to us, but let's not get bogged down with that yet.

The SP concept is powered by a two-rotor rotary EV system. Details on how exactly it works were few and far between, but we're guessing it's a lot like current plug-in hybrid setups where the engine and electric motor combine to power the wheels. (This being a sports car, we'll safely assume its the rear wheels here.) The one major catch is that the roatry engine can be powered by various fuels, even hydrogen. The whole setup is compact and mounted low down in the car, giving the concept a 50:50 weight distribution. Combine that with 365 horsepower and you get the makings of a very compelling sports car.

That's pretty much everything we know so far about this new concept, but we can't escape the feeling that we're looking at the next Miata. Does it make sense for Mazda to develop an all-new, expensive mid-engine platform when the most successful roadster in history is due for a major overhaul in the next few years? We say no, but it does make a lot more sense to release a design study, see how the public reacts, and potentially base a real car off what was teased. It's a far more likely course of action, and it tracks. Mazda has been teasing us with the possibility of a return to the rotary engine for years, but none of the rumors have ever come to fruition. The one constant in Mazda's lineup for more than three decades has been the Miata.

Mazda Iconic SP Concept hard front

We think we're looking at something that will eventually resemble the NE generation of Mazda's venerable roadster, and we like what we see. It's a futurustic and handsome interpretation of Mazda's successful Kodo design language. It also has all the right cues, including the long hood and short deck (despite being mid-engined). Right now, this is all just a hunch, but rumors abound that the next Miata will be electrified and, if it looks like this, we're all for it.

Mazda Iconic SP Concept interior detail

Edmunds says

Time will tell if our hunch is anywhere near correct, but if it is we'll be so glad we won't even say, "I told you so."