Mazda brought back the rotary engine last year for the MX-30 crossover where it serves as a range extender. In 2023, we also saw this stunning Iconic SP Concept that had a rotary engine working as a generator to charge the battery. Today, the Zoom-Zoom company is expressing its long-term commitment to this technology by setting up a dedicated team.

The new "RE Development Group" comprises 36 engineers that will work on rotary engines. The last time Mazda had a separate team in charge of these high-revving engines was in 2018 when the group disbanded. Enthusiasts will remember the last rotary sports car rolled off the assembly line back in 2012 when production of the JDM-exclusive RX-8 Spirit R ended. For now, the Japanese marque isn't promising a new rotary performance vehicle, only saying it aims to deliver "attractive cars that excite customers with our challenger spirit."

However, there is a glimmer of hope that something along the lines of the Iconic SP coupe will see the light of production day. Speaking at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon last month, Mazda President and CEO Katsuhiro Moro hinted at a spiritual successor of the RX-7 / RX-8:

"I am very happy and deeply moved by all the support and encouragement I have received for the compact sports car concept. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all. With your encouragement, we are launching a rotary engine development group on February 1 to move closer to this dream."

Even if the project gets the green light, the press release issued today makes it abundantly clear the rotary engine will be used as a generator. In other words, it won't be driving the wheels like it used to in past RX models. Mazda said the Iconic SP uses a two-rotor engine that juices up a battery. The ICE can run on gasoline but also on hydrogen and renewable fuels. The sports car's unspecified battery pack can also be charged from a household socket.

The Iconic SP is touted as having 365 horsepower in a sports car that weighs 3,197 pounds (1,450 kilograms), split evenly between the axles. The concept was 164.6 inches (4.18 meters) long, 72.8 inches (1.85 meters) wide, and 45.2 inches (1.14 meters) tall. However, Mazda has already said the showcar from Tokyo was deliberately made bigger than it needs to be. In fact, chief designer Masashi Nakayama declared they could shrink it to the size of an MX-5 Miata.

A road-going version of the Iconic SP would be Mazda's 13th car to have a rotary engine. Since the dedicated team was just announced, a potential production version of the sleek coupe is at least a couple of years away, provided it's actually going to happen…

In the meantime, Mazda is catering to sports car fans by updating the Miata for the third time since the ND generation came out a decade ago.

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