There's a lot to love about the Mazda Iconic SP Concept. It's gorgeous inside and out with perfect proportions, it has a two-rotor engine, and it's a signal of how the sports car can survive and thrive in an all-electric future. Thing is, it has one design element that stands out above all else: pop-up headlights.
If you're like me, you didn't notice that the concept had pop-up headlights when it first appeared last night. The focus was on the innovative powertrain and the stunning design, not on how the road ahead is illuminated. Some of you are probably freaking out, delighted that the headlights have their own little home to emerge from at night. Others probably don't care and think that pop-up headlights are bad and should be gone forever. To you, hater, I say that you're wrong.
See, pop-up headlights are a gift from a bygone time, when car designers didn't have to worry about pedestrian impact standards and could instead conceal headlights during the day to let them take centre stage at night. As a former NA MX-5 owner, one of the true delights of that car was seeing another MX-5 and quickly popping the headlights up, a friendly gesture recognised throughout the little roadster community as the defacto way to say "hi, I like your MX-5, mate!"
That subtle detail on this concept does recall the MX-5, sure, but it also recalls the car that it might actually succeed, the FD RX-7. I still maintain that the FD RX-7, even with those very Nineties headlights, could pass for a brand-new car if it debuted today. The way Mazda has utilised those lights here seems like a modernisation of the FD design, a signal that perhaps, finally, after nearly a decade of constant rumours declaring the return of the RX-7, it may not be far off.
Gallery: Mazda Iconic SP Concept
This is also the sort of retro design we want to see. It's a distinctly modern car with a small detail that tugs at the hearts of car geeks everywhere. Just imagine if this catches on. Maybe pop-ups will reappear across sports and supercars everywhere. That's the future I want to live in. Don't you?