JMS, Thank You for Giving Us Mazda's Iconic SP and Honda's Prelude, I Love Both

Unfortunately, I have yet to determine if Honda and Mazda intend to put these two prototypes into series production or if they are just image vectors designed to support JAMA's bid to reinvent the former Tokyo Motor Show into the novel Japan Mobility Show.
Japan Mobility Show opinion 8 photos
Photo: JAMA / Mazda / Honda / Subaru
Japan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinionJapan Mobility Show opinion
After almost seven decades, the biennial Tokyo Motor Show was retired after the global pandemic canceled its 2021 edition, and the landscape of automotive shows was substantially reworked by social distancing first and then by the stellar rise in popularity of the alternate venues like Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Car Week. JAMA – the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association – decided to create the inaugural Japan Mobility Show, and all the carmakers rallied behind this new call to arms.

As such, we have seen a steady influx of novelties from various companies – big and small – over the weeks that anticipated the ongoing JMS – the press days were October 25 and 26, followed by an invitation-only day, and general public access was granted starting with October 28 until November 5. By the way, when I say everyone, I literally mean everyone – from Daihatsu to Toyota – had something cool and new for this event, and not just traditional car concepts but also mobility ideas.

What it lacks, indeed, is a sense of a new model-focused show – but that only makes it even more spectacular when everywhere you look, there are only concepts and prototypes left and right. Frankly, coming from an abysmal NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) where only the Big Detroit Three had something new, and there was no trace of concepts, this feels like jumping out of the rock directly into the space age! Is it clear that I'm biased toward what JAMA achieved for the first edition of a show aimed at attracting an even wider audience than before? I don't mind; you can say it to my face. And I'm biased because these automakers brought the stuff of dreams to the Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Center.

For example, I appreciate the efforts of Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus. It's finally time for them to go electric, and it feels like they are closing the gate behind them and never looking back – at least in terms of concepts like the IMV 0 and EPU pickup trucks and the FT-3e plus FT-Se and the Land Cruiser Se. But since the latter is a big part of the 4x4's legacy now, I think I will develop my thoughts on that in a different post. Right now, I'm too intoxicated with the sports car ideas to focus on it.

And why is that? Well, put simply, mainly because Mazda and Honda tickled everyone's senses with the Iconic SP concept and the return of the beloved Prelude nameplate. First, coming from the line of Vision design studies, the Mazda Iconic SP might seem like something that befits the MX-5 Miata moniker around 2025 when it's time to finally change generations and introduce the world to the NE iteration. However, this 'little' sports car is also a tad bigger than the 2024 MX-5 Miata (ND3), which also debuted at the same venue.

That means Mazda is hitting us in the face with thoughts to last us months of sleepless nights – will they make this the fifth generation MX-5 Miata, or will they finally give us another RX to follow in the footsteps of the iconic rotary-powered RX-7 and the quirky RX-8. The thing is that Mazda is probably keeping its options open – it's cool and minimalist enough to morph into the next MX-5 Miata but also features an innovative EV plus rotary engine (REX – range extender) powertrain of unspecified characteristics that clearly makes us think about the RX-7 and RX-8 rather than the MX-30 R-EV upon which is probably based.

Other than a simple answer to that conundrum, it has just about everything you might want from a modern sports car that also gives plenty of nods to the past – it has a contemporary way of using pop-up headlights if you can believe it! Plus, it's an EV that still uses ICE power – and even features Mazda's trademark Wankel rotary engine in some capacity; what else could we want? Moving on, Honda dropped a bombshell about its participation at JMS with the sudden introduction of the Prelude nameplate's revival. The latter was an interesting-looking two-door sport compact coupe built over five generations from 1978 to 2001.

Now, the 2023 Honda Prelude Concept is their vision of a reborn series – and while it's dubbed as a showpiece, this clearly looks like a production-ready prototype. Of course, details are thin, just like with the Mazda – but we heard the Honda Prelude is a hybrid, so it won't give the Japanese automaker any additional trouble beyond the body and interior design if they decide to make it a series-production model. After all, they have enough hybrid, e:HEV and e:PHEV powertrains to choose from the most appropriate option. Now, let's not be coy about our desires – we want them both in our driveways ASAP, right?

Oh, and I almost forgot. Has anyone seen the crazy quirky-yet-cool looks of the Subaru Sport Mobility Concept? That one, not the Air Mobility Concept, also deserves a little bit of recognition for what it's trying to do - reinvent the Alcyone SVX for these modern, fashionable automotive times!

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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