The Tokyo Motor Show only happens every two years, placing added pressure on Japan’s car manufacturers to go all-out with the new cars and crazy concepts.
For 2017 they certainly haven’t disappointed: here are some of the high-tech new machines and landmark introductions that make this year’s Tokyo show a classic.
Honda Sports EV Concept
Honda’s done it again. The gorgeous Urban EV Concept was the star of the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, and this two-seater Sports EV Concept is another retro-infused gem of a concept we dearly hope makes production. Tech details are again thin on the ground, but the firm does say it includes artificial intelligence. Hopefully not too artificial: a sporty EV sports car infused with some racy Type R spirit would be just the thing to sit alongside that production-confirmed Urban EV, we reckon. Fingers crossed.
Nissan IMx electric SUV concept
How will Nissan follow up the second-generation Leaf electric car? Why, with an electric SUV, of course. The IMx ‘Leaf SUV’ concept has two powerful electric motors for all-wheel drive, a Tesla-like driving range of 373 miles, offers fully autonomous drive and, in the metal, looks very striking thanks to its high-riding stance and expansive, aero-profiled front end. Expect a toned-down production version before the decade is out.
Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept
Toolbox Joy may sound more like a Japanese DIY chain, but here it’s the name applied to a new SUV concept from Toyota. ‘Van-like’ is not usually a quality advertised in press releases, but Toyota is keen to point out the practical potential of the TJ Cruiser, with the ability to swallow surfboards whole.
This cavernous approach is thanks to passenger seats which fold completely flat, along with a giant rear hatch and sliding side doors. Much like a van, in fact. With a 2.0-litre hybrid engine and the potential for four-wheel drive, the TJ Cruiser sounds ready for production.
Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept
Welcome back, Mitsubishi Evolution. However, before you get too excited, take note of the ‘e’ before that famous name. There’s no turbocharged petrol engine tuned to within an inch of its life here, but instead three electric motors powering all four wheels. Oh, and it’s also a high-rise SUV, not a four-door saloon, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Active Yaw Control is still here, just like old times, with the individual motors for each rear wheel helping to adjust cornering attitude: pleasingly, the Tokyo press pack image set includes a shot of it drifting, classic Evo style. What is different is the adoption of Artificial Intelligence, working to understand traffic and road conditions, along with learning the intentions of the driver. Excited? Maybe temper that enthusiasm: insiders suggest this is teasing a future new Mitsubishi SUV, rather than a new electrified Evo performance car…
Subaru Viziv Performance Saloon
Speaking of famous 1990s Japanese performance icons… moving onto Subaru, ‘Viziv’ is a range of concept cars that preview the brand’s future. So is the Viziv Performance Saloon our first look at a next-gen WRX? Subaru says it packs a boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive, although further tech details are few and far between. This is about the styling and, on first evidence, we like the authentic WRX details on show. Don’t go toning it down for production now, Subaru…
Mazda Kai Concept
A thinly-disguised version of the next Mazda 3, but with a slightly different name, the Kai uses Mazda’s new modular SKYACTIV-Vehicle Architecture. Styling is a continuation of the striking ‘Kodo’ design language first seen on the CX-5 in 2012. We love the MX-5-like interior, coupe-like rear end and flowing surfaces, although presumably, the production version won’t be quite so low-riding…
Beneath the bonnet is another of Mazda’s key innovations; SKYACTIV-X engine technology. Mazda claims this is the first production petrol engine to feature compression ignition. This allows the engine to use a leaner fuel mixture, but generate more power than the existing SKYACTIV-G engine range.
Mazda Vision Coupe Concept
Less likely to make production, but still deeply impressive, the Mazda Vision Coupe continues the Kodo styling philosophy but on a much bigger canvas; this could make a genuine luxury four-door coupe contender, should Mazda ever wish to move into the luxury sector. The interior is designed around the concept of ‘ma’ which translates literally to mean ‘space’. This includes using a giant panoramic glass roof, allowing as much light as possible inside.
Daihatsu DN Compagno
With Daihatsu celebrating its 110th anniversary in 2017, the brand has gone big in Tokyo with a range of five special concept vehicles. This four-door coupe takes the name, and styling inspiration, from the original 1963 Compagno. Aimed at, in the words of Daihatsu, bringing colourful support to the lives of “active seniors”, it comes with a 1.2-litre hybrid engine.
Suzuki e-Survivor Concept
Remember the Suzuki X-90 from the 1990s? Yes, we’d tried to block out the mental image as well, but Suzuki seems determined to cash in on the 90s retro action with the crazy e-Survivor concept. A ladder frame chassis is decidedly old-school, but electric motors driving all four wheels are far more modern. It’s firmly not set for production. Phew?
Lexus LS+ concept
A first glimpse at the self-driving Lexus LS luxury limo of 2020, the LS+ pack in ‘Highway Teammate’ autonomous driving technology that the firm says goes beyond the Level 3 tech already seen on the all-new Audi A8. Indeed, Lexus promises this will be next-gen Level 4 compliant, and will even work in cities. A futuristic spindle grille with active aerodynamics marks out the tech-laden LS+ as a forward-looking concept.
Yamaha Cross Hub Concept
Here’s another cool concept from Yamaha, a sporty-looking SUV pickup that can swallow a Yamaha-branded motorbike. It’s still not decided whether to make the previous two concepts, the 2013 Motiv and 2015 Sports Ride Concept, so we’re not holding our breath. It’s interesting all the same though, not least for its diamond-shaped ‘1-2-1’ four-seat layout.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Launched last month, the new Nissan Leaf is getting a very public display at the 2017 Tokyo show. Designed to offer wider appeal through more conventional styling, the new Leaf also features improved battery technology for a claimed 235-mile range. The transformed cabin is more spacious, with greater room for both passengers and luggage, boasting a boot that actually beats a Volkswagen Golf for capacity. Autonomous technology also makes an appearance, too. Eager buyers don’t have long to wait until the January 2018 launch.
Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept
Taking the styling development of the new Leaf even further, Nissan is showing off a Nismo-enhanced version in Tokyo. Although strictly a concept at present, Nissan wants its EV superstar to shrug off the hairshirt image and have genuine kerb appeal.
Aggressive bumpers, side skirts, bigger wheels and red trim – a styling feature borrowed from the awesome GT-R Nismo – make it certainly more interesting to look at. Don’t expect GT-R levels of power, though.
Toyota Crown Concept
With a lineage stretching all the way back to 1955, this is the 15th generation of the Toyota Crown luxury saloon (yes, 15th!). Although on show in concept form, changes for production should be limited, with Toyota promising a car that will be fun to drive, with new underpinnings developed at the Nürburgring.
Perhaps of greater importance to drivers stuck in Tokyo traffic jams is the addition of a Data Communication Module, which records and shares information with other Toyotas. This could allow navigation systems to direct drivers away from traffic, but also allow dealers to diagnose problems remotely. Japanese consumers will get the chance to buy the newest Crown in the summer.
Toyota Century Limousine
Despite being in production since 1967, this is, incredibly, only the third generation of Toyota’s flagship Century limousine. The previous Century formed the basis for the official state car of the Emperor of Japan, no less, meaning there is a lot of pressure to get this right.
Sadly, the 5.0-litre V12 engine makes way for a V8 petrol hybrid, intended to improve urban economy. The wheelbase has been lengthened, and the door apertures heightened, making it even easier for VIPs to enter and exit. Sticking with tradition, the upholstery for the rear seats features wool, not leather, but a 20-speaker sound system is thoroughly modern.
Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept
Utilising a hydrogen fuel cell for power, and electric motors for propulsion, the Fine-Comfort Ride concept is claimed to create a new era of luxury motoring as part of a low-carbon society. Strong words, especially when Toyota has sights set on premium saloons like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
With an individual electric motor for each wheel, Toyota argues this allows the Fine-Comfort Ride to maximise interior space and minimise exterior noise. With space for six inside, the concept also includes swivelling seats to allow impromptu board meetings – although not when driving, of course. Exclusively a concept, expect ideas to filter into production vehicles shortly.
Toyota GR HV Sports Concept
A petrol-hybrid sports car, with a manual-style gearbox, and a targa-top convertible body? Say hello to the GR HV Sports concept car, intended to be the eco-friendly face of performance motoring. A face that features LED headlights inspired by the Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 endurance race car wedged onto the front of a GT86.
Divisive styling aside, the biggest news here is the use of an imitation H-pattern manual gearshift for the six-speed automatic transmission. In manual mode, the gear stick can be moved as if it were a manual to select cogs, albeit with no physical linkage to the actual transmission. Our first look at a future GT86 hybrid, perhaps?
Subaru BRZ STI Sport
Try not to get too excited – the BRZ STI Sport yet again has no more horsepower than the regular version. No, Subaru has not decided to wedge a turbocharger beneath the bonnet of the BRZ, leaving power at 197hp. Instead, the 100 lucky owners will get special Khaki Grey paintwork, a red/black interior, minor aero tweaks and suspension changes intended to make it even more fun to drive. As with the S208, this one is for Japan only.
Subaru S208 WRX STI
It’s not an Impreza and hasn’t been for many years. With that out of the way, this is the latest in a line of limited edition WRX STI offerings, stretching all the way back to the terrifyingly-bodykitted S201 of 2000.
The S208 is slightly tamer looking but features hardcore parts like a carbon fibre roof, adjustable rear spoiler, and an uprated version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-four engine. Only 450 examples will be built, and you’ll need to enter a lottery to even have a chance of buying one.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
Japanese consumers have had to wait quite a while for the latest CR-V, with North American buyers having the chance to see it almost a year ago. European customers got the opportunity to see the new Hybrid version at September’s Frankfurt show, but finally, it’s made a ‘home’ debut here in Tokyo.
Honda Urban EV Concept
As mentioned, everybody loved it at the Frankfurt Motor Show, so the Urban EV Concept is here in Tokyo doing exactly the same. A second outing hasn’t dulled our enthusiasm for the retro EV hatchback, with styling inspired by the original 1972 Civic. We’re patiently counting the days until a production version goes on sale in 2019…
Daihatsu DN Trec
Looking production ready, the DN Trec is a compact SUV suitable for both “daily use and hobbies” according to the firm. Engine choices for this concept are the same 1.2-litre hybrid as the Compagno, or a 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit.
Despite being firmly on-trend, Daihatsu ended European sales in 2011, so this is another car those outside Japan will be denied if production goes ahead.
The XBEE (pronounced cross-bee) is a range of three differing takes on the compact crossover idea. Based on the Japanese-market Hustler, the XBEE is being shown in Outdoor Adventure, Street Adventure, and (pictured) regular flavours. All three concepts are said to be aimed at active lifestyles, combining space and off-road capability.
Suzuki Swift Sport
It may have been officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, but Tokyo is giving the new Swift Sport its first airing at home. We know all the details off by heart now, with a 138hp turbocharged 1.4-litre engine and a kerb weight of less than 1,000kg. We’re just waiting patiently for the chance to try it…
Toyota JPN Taxi
It might look a lot like a London taxi, but the Toyota’s JPN Taxi is firmly rooted in Tokyo as the intended first vehicle that visitors to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will see. With a low flat floor for improved access, the JPN Taxi also boasts an electrically-sliding rear door to assist wheelchair users.
With a hybrid powertrain featuring an LPG engine and electric motors, the JPN Taxi is capable of a claimed 55mpg, while helping lower city centre emissions. LED interior lighting, six airbags, and climate control are all part of the deal, with prices set at ¥3,277,800 (£22,000 – a mere fraction of the price of the new London Electric Vehicle Company’s TX hybrid taxi).
Toyota Concept-i Series
Looking more like a lineup of new Dyson products, Toyota’s Concept-i Series plays to the ‘beyond the motor’ theme of the 2017 Tokyo show. All three offerings are strongly in the futuristic realm, but are linked by using artificial intelligence and automation to make transport easier, but still fun.
The larger Concept-i car was first shown earlier in the year, and features AI that learns which roads make the driver the happiest, and suggests navigation detours accordingly. The smaller ‘RIDE’ concept is intended to be wheelchair accessible, with gullwing doors and special sliding seats. Finally, ‘WALK’ is a three-wheeled version of a Segway, but with voice activation for navigation and without the need to use body weight for steering.
Usually associated with motorbikes, Yamaha has applied knowledge of two wheels into four, creating the MWC-4. Although very much a concept, the MWC-4 is intended to borrow from two-wheeler fun and apply it to personal mobility.
With a chassis that leans, the electric MWC-4 is designed to replicate the experiences of riding a motorbike, but minus the constant fear of falling off. We’re less convinced by the explanation of the styling, which is said to borrow ideas from motorbikes and musical instruments.
Toyota Sora FC Bus Concept
Toyota doesn’t just have concept cars on show in Tokyo, it also has a concept bus! The Sora FC uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power, and previews a forthcoming commercial version due next year.
A fleet of one hundred is planned for the Tokyo metropolitan area, with again an eye firmly on the 2020 Olympic Games for the 79-seater bus. Oh, and the name? Sora is an acronym for Sky, Ocean, River and Air which represents the water cycle. Befitting for a vehicle which runs on hydrogen.
BMW Concept Z4
There had been rumours prior to the show that Toyota would show its all-new Supra sports car. Alas, it was not to be: all we had instead was confirmation it would be sold as a Gazoo Racing-branded machine. Instead, it was up to BMW to keep up the excitement: this Z4 Concept uses the same underpinnings as that hotly-anticipated 2018 Supra…