The Mazda Iconic SP Concept is one of the most exciting vehicles premiering at this year's Japan Mobility Show. It features swoopy styling that evokes elements from the first-gen MX-5 Miata and third-generation RX-7. Power comes from a mid-mounted two-rotor engine, but the mill doesn't directly drive the wheels. Like the brand's MX-30 R-EV, the powerplant charges the batteries in a setup known as a series hybrid.

"Iconic SP utilizes a similar powertrain setup to MX-30 R-EV, but, at the present time, we are unable to confirm what, if anything, the two vehicles share in common," Mazda spokesperson Jake Stumph told

Gallery: Mazda Iconic SP Concept

The MX-30 R-EV uses an 830-cc, single-rotor engine, but the front-mounted electric motor actually turns the wheels. The ICE functions purely as a compact generator for producing electricity to charge the 17.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The combustion powerplant alone makes 74 horsepower and 85 pound-feet of torque.

Where the MX-30 EV has a range of only around 100 miles, the rotary engine and its 13.2-gallon fuel tank boost the driving distance to about 372 miles. The car can go roughly 53 miles on pure electric power before the ICE needs to start generating power. When it launched the R-EV, Mazda touted the series hybrid as combining the advantages of an EV with the range possible from a combustion engine.

The two-rotor engine in the Iconic SP Concept is different than the smaller rotary in the MX-30 R-EV. The version in the show car can run on a variety of fuels, including hydrogen.

Gallery: 2023 Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV

"Our engineering team in Japan confirmed that the powertrain in Iconic SP was tested on hydrogen for demonstration purposes and seems to work well on various fuel types,” Stumph told

Mazda didn't outline the electric motor layout or the battery capacity for the Iconic SP Concept. The show car's total output is 365 horsepower, which is a significant upgrade over previous rotary-powered models like the 255-hp third-gen RX-7 and 232-hp RX-8. It's also possible to plug in this vehicle to recharge the battery.

The Iconic SP Concept's powertrain also supports vehicle-to-load power generation. A person could drive it to the track and then plug in tools, lights, or a grille to stay entertained between sessions.

There have been rumors about Mazda building a new, rotary-powered sports car for quite some time. The Iconic SP is just a concept for now, but using the engine as a range extender could be a path forward for keeping this powerplant alive.

Got a tip for us? Email: