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JMS 2023: The Iconic SP is Mazda’s vision of a carbon-neutral sports car

The concept aims to keep the fun, sans the guilt

Who would have thought electrified vehicles could look this good? PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

When one thinks about sports cars, the first thing that comes to mind is the joy of driving. However, with that come abysmal fuel economy and harmful emissions. And now that people take carbon neutrality more seriously, there seems to be no room for these fun-to-drive vehicles. Well, Mazda begs to differ.

At the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, the Hiroshima-based carmaker unveiled the Iconic SP, which is how it thinks sports cars in the future should be. Unlike with most concept vehicles, the exterior features design elements that look equally traditional and futuristic.

The smiling face seems to make a comeback, with a two-piece gaping grille that is found front and center where an illuminated Mazda logo is located. This is flanked by slim pop-up LED headlamps.

The Iconic SP got our mouth watering. PHOTOS FROM MAZDA

You’ll see tons of sleek and smooth curves, with the character lines perfectly softened up. An expansive rear windshield, butterfly doors, and a Viola Red finish make the car as sexy as a Ferrari. Finally, a spelled-out and illuminated Mazda badge sits in the middle of the twin overlapping taillamps.

You won’t see yoke tillers here as the Iconic SP has the traditional rounded (but thickly rimmed) steering wheel with metal paddles. Behind it is a fully digital instrument cluster. A huge rectangular screen serves as the infotainment display, with integrated HVAC controls.

On the center console, you’d find what seems to be a capacitive start/stop button, along with four sliders that could be the shifter, since it has the letters P, R, N, and D on them. An Alcantara-like fabric with red contrast stitching covers most panels like the door cards, the dash, the center console, and the seats.

If you look closely, you can see the map of a certain racetrack. PHOTOS FROM MAZDA

According to Mazda, the Iconic SP is 4,180mm long, 1,850mm wide, and 1,150mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,590mm. Powering it will be a hybrid system with an output of 365hp. The dual-rotor ICE burns carbon-neutral fuel, and this generates electricity to charge the battery. Tipping the scales at just 1,450kg, the car will have a power-to-weight ratio of 3.9.

The use of this compact and light powertrain lowers the center of gravity. Mounted in the middle, it will have a lower hood and close to 50:50 weight distribution, just like how a sports car should be. When the batteries are adequately charged, it’s possible to enjoy a carbon-neutral drive.

Hopefully, this concept saves sports cars from extinction. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

No further details were shared about the concept. But from what was revealed in the presentation, the Iconic SP seems to be a very good and realistic basis that automakers can use for the sports cars of the future.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.