Radical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Radical concept cars at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Radical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor ShowConcept cars are a chance for designers to express their wildest fantasies, as well as giving carmakers the opportunity to showcase the next-generation technology. Join us as we take a tour of some of the best concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Honda Sports EV ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Honda won the hearts and minds of most people at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the Urban EV Concept and is promising to do the same again in Tokyo. According to Honda, the Sports EV is a “concept model which combines EV performance and artificial intelligence inside a compact body with the aim to realise the joy of driving the user can feel with a sense of unity with the car.” In other words, it’s a fun-to-drive electric car. Honda, we have two words for you: ‘build’ and ‘it’. Oh, and ‘please’.

Honda Urban EV ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

If only for old times’ sake, here’s the Honda Urban EV Concept. Built on a newly-developed EV platform, the concept previews the future design direction for Honda’s electric models. We’re likely to see a production version based on the concept, first in Europe, followed by Japan in 2020. Thanks to Honda, the future of electric mobility is looking bright.

Toyota Fine-Comfort RideRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride features an electric motor at each wheel and batteries fuelled by hydrogen. Toyota is calling it a “new form of premium saloon”, thanks mainly to the position of the motors, which frees up space to create an incredibly roomy cabin. The FC Ride produces the equivalent of 400hp and promises to offer a range of up to 600 miles.

Daihatsu DN CompagnoRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Daihatsu has unveiled five concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show, but this is by far and away the most appealing. It’s called the DN Compagno, and it’s inspired by the original car of the 1960s, which, incidentally, was the first Japanese car to be officially imported into the UK. Sadly, there’s little chance of this one making it to the UK, as Daihatsu stopped selling cars here in 2011.

Isuzu FD-SIRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

In the future, your home deliveries will turn up in a van that looks something like. That’s if Isuzu is to be believed. It’s called the FD-SI and Isuzu says it wants to “support the drivers, the front-line people of ‘transport’, with unconventional ideas.” When it’s parked up, you can play Blockbusters on the side. Can we have a ‘P’ please, Bob?

Suzuki e-SurvivorRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The new Suzuki Jimny is conspicuous by its absence, but this wild e-Survivor concept should help soften the blow. It has been built to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday in 2020, and it features permanent electric four-wheel drive and a T-section removable roof. This two-seat, open-top concept is like an X-90 for a new generation.

Subaru Viziv Performance ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

If the next generation Subaru WRX looks this good, we’re in for a treat. Sadly, the chances are it will be toned down for the production version, but the Viziv Performance Concept is turning heads in Tokyo. No performance details have been released, but it does feature Subaru’s famous ‘boxer’ engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Nissan Leaf Nismo ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The Leaf Nismo Concept is further evidence of an exciting future for the electric car, with Nissan promising to blend “efficient electric technology” with “exciting driving dynamics.” By Nismo standards, the styling is relatively tame, but it’s the most striking Leaf ever built. The upgrades are said to enhance aerodynamics, reduce lift and maintain the Leaf’s drag coefficient.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The Mitsubishi Evo is back, but don’t get too excited. The iconic name is being used to adorn an electric crossover, news that will result in some performance car fans removing their baseball caps in a solemn act of respect, before crying into their cans of energy drink. According to Mitsubishi, the concept “expresses a readiness to grip the ground with all four wheels as well as the agility of a high-performance, cross-country machine.”

Toyota Tj CruiserRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

According to Toyota, if enough people react positively to the Tj Cruiser, it could make production. The concept is part-SUV and part-van and designed for people with active lifestyles. With folding seats and a 3-metre load bed, the Tj Cruiser could act as a working van during the week, before doing more lifestyle-led things at the weekend.

Lexus LS+ conceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The Lexus LS+ previews autonomous technology likely to appear on the flagship car in 2020. The so-called Highway Teammate tech will allow the car to enter and exit a motorway without any input from the driver, along with automated merging and lane changing abilities. Lexus claims the LS+ is able to learn things as it goes along, creating safer tech as a result.

Mazda Kai ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Few carmakers offer a range of vehicles as good looking as Mazda, and if the Tokyo Motor Show is anything to go by, the future looks even more promising. The Kai Concept hints at the next generation Mazda 3 but is actually shorter than the family hatchback. But it sits much lower and wider than the 3, with a look that doesn’t look too far off production.

Mazda Vision Coupe ConceptRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

We’ll gloss over the fact that Mazda is calling this four-door concept a coupe, because it’s arguably the best looking car at the Tokyo show. In a world growing increasingly obsessed with crossovers and SUV, this is a glimpse into a future that looks more attractive and alluring.

Toyota GR HVRadical concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The GR HV is based on the Toyota GT86 and features a petrol-electric engine which sends power to the rear wheels. Other highlights include a removable roof, LED cluster headlights and an automatic transmission featuring a fake H-pattern gate manual mode. Keep clicking for more concepts at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

>NEXT: Nissan Canto is a singing electric car

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Canto is a singing electric car

Nissan LeafNissan electric cars of the future will ‘sing’ to pedestrians in town, thanks to the launch of new sound-generating technology it’s calling Canto.  

Operating at speeds of up to around 20mph, the new Nissan Canto tech is a development of Nissan’s ‘Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians’ system, which it’s been producing since 2010. Canto is a much punchier name though – derived from the Latin for ‘I sing’.

It will be more than just a boring bleep or whirr. Nissan says the sound varies both in tone and pitch, depending on what the vehicle is doing – either accelerating, slowing down or reversing.

“An important element of Nissan Intelligent Mobility is how the vehicle integrates with society, and a crucial component of that is sound,” said Nissan electric cars vice president Daniele Schillaci.

“‘Canto’ has been developed to help with pedestrian safety, as well as to provide a distinct Nissan sound – one that is energising and confident, authentic to our brand and representing our unique position in the electrified marketplace.”

It’s Nissan’s way of adding a distinctive brand ID to how its EVs sound in the city, as well as giving the safety benefit of an audible alert sound for otherwise silent-running EVs.

It won’t be too loud or annoying, either: Nissan promises us it will be clearly audible “without being overly disturbing to pedestrians, residents and passengers”.

From 2019, electric car warning sounds at slower speeds will be mandatory in many major car markets, including Europe and the United States.

NEXT> Electric cars: what you need to know

Honda Civic Type R Swindon

Japanese car sales in Britain up 38% in five years

Honda Civic Type R SwindonThe relationship between the British and Japanese car industries is stronger than ever, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes has said at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show – but it will only continue to thrive if the UK secures good post-Brexit trade deals with both the EU and Japan.

Almost 100,000 more Japanese brand car sales are now registered in the UK than five years ago, with the total so far in 2017 topping 350,000. This comes in the 36th year of formal automotive trade between the UK and Japan.

It’s fitting, given how Japanese-owned car plants in the UK account for almost half of all UK car production. The SMMT points out that some Japanese brand cars, such as the Honda Civic Type R and Toyota Avensis, are even being exported back to Japan…

Meanwhile, Japan is now the UK’s sixth biggest car export market, and the second largest in Asia after China. We have our premium and performance brands to thank for this: the UK, says the SMMT, is the second-largest manufacturer of such brands in the EU, behind only Germany.

The numbers are, in contrast to the amount of Japanese-brand cars sold in the UK, low: 12,656 models in the first half of 2017. But many of them are high-margin machines such as Range Rovers and Jaguars, so profits are still high. Japan’s favourite British-built car of all remains the Mini.

But although it’s thriving, there are risks on the horizon, warned Hawes. “This summer’s agreement of an EU-Japan Free Trade Deal is welcome news for both our industries.

“However, for our relationship to benefit post-Brexit, the UK will need to secure trade agreements with both the EU and Japan, underlining the importance of securing the right deal during Brexit negotiations.”

Top 10 British-built bestsellers in Japan

  1. Mini One
  2. Mini Clubman
  3. Honda Civic Type R
  4. Range Rover Evoque
  5. Land Rover Discovery Sport
  6. Toyota Avensis
  7. Jaguar XE
  8. Range Rover Sport
  9. Jaguar F-Pace
  10. Land Rover Discovery

NEXT> The best-looking Japanese cars ever

The JPN Taxi is Toyota's take on the black cab

The JPN Taxi is Toyota’s take on the black cab

The JPN Taxi is Toyota's take on the black cab

The Toyota Crown Comfort has been Japan’s answer to the iconic London taxi for generations: yet its replacement looks more like a black cab than ever before.

Revealed today at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota JPN Taxi is powered by a hybrid powertrain combining an LPG engine with an electric motor. This will help reduce emissions in city centres, says Toyota, while fuel economy of around 55mpg will appeal to taxi drivers. Other impressive modern features include various proactive safety features, as well as six cabin airbags.

It’s practical, too, with a low flat floor providing space to accommodate a wheelchair, while a navigation system and fare meter are placed within easy sight of passengers in the rear. Other clever details include LED lights and extenders for the rear seat belts to make them easier to find at night, while a sophisticated climate control system features an in-built air purifier.

Unmistakably taxi in its appearance, the JPN is available in ‘koiai’ deep indigo paint, a symbol of Japan.

Prices start from 3,277,800 yen (around £21,800), with the firm aiming to sell at least 1,000 units of the JPN Taxi each month. Toyota says it hopes to use the new cab to greet visitors to Japan from around the world when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

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>NEXT: New London taxi promises to save cabbies £100 a week

2018 Toyota Century

The 2018 Toyota Century is a 5.0-litre V8 hybrid we won’t get in the UK

2018 Toyota CenturyUK readers, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what the Toyota Century is. It’s the firm’s Japan-only flagship car, bigger than a Lexus LS and a rival to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It’s also unashamedly old-fashioned – even in 2018 guise, revealed today ahead of its official debut at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

As you’d expect for the size of it, there’s plenty of space inside the Toyota Century. Heather-patterned upholstery “emphasises horizontal space,” apparently, while the seats are made out of 100 percent wool. There even to be net curtains offering a degree of privacy in the rear.

A writing table provides somewhere for Japanese businessmen to work, while a reading light, rear seat entertainment system and 20-inch speaker premium audio system all add to the interior ambiance.

While we suspect this a car to be driven in rather than drive yourself, we’re still interested in what’s under the bonnet. It’s gone all modern with its hybrid system… except the electric motor is paired with a 5.0-litre petrol V8. Horsepower or performance figures are yet to be confirmed – we’re certainly intrigued.

Fuel economy figures are yet to be confirmed, too, but Toyota does say it’s in pursuit of the lowest fuel consumption in its class.

That’s about all we know so far, but it’s safe to speculate that the chance of it making it to the UK is somewhere between zero and a diesel Prius. Prices in Japan are expected to be close to the outgoing model’s 12.53 million yen – that’s around £85,000 in UK money.

Porsche Macan SUV gets hot GTS treatment

Porsche Macan SUV gets hot GTS treatment

Porsche Macan SUV gets hot GTS treatment

Porsche has revealed its hot new Macan GTS at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

Based on the Porsche Macan S, the GTS boasts 360hp from its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 – an increase of 20hp. That means, as with other Porsche models, the GTS sits below the Turbo in the Macan range.

Performance wise, it’ll hit 62mph in 5.0 seconds when Porsche’s optional £729 sport chrono pack is fitted (5.2 seconds without), and it’s good for a top speed of 160mph.

It’s not all about power, however. A throatier exhaust is fitted as standard, while the Macan’s electronically controlled dampers have been tweaked to provide a sportier (and lower) ride.

You can tell the Macan GTS apart from the S on which it’s based by a plethora of GTS badges, the usual smattering of black exterior trim and 20-inch black alloys.

Inside, there are special seats and the latest version of Porsche’s touchscreen infotainment system.

If it matters, the Macan GTS returns an official 31.4mpg and emits 212g/km CO2. Orders are now open in the UK, with prices starting at £55,188. Deliveries are likely to start early in 2016.

Mazda's RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go 'phwoar'

Mazda’s RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go ‘phwoarrr’

Mazda's RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go 'phwoar'

Rejoice, the rotary engine is back! Mazda’s unveiled its RX-Vision concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

It previews a new model from Mazda, set to take on the Porsche Cayman as a successor to the Mazda RX-8.

In typical RX fashion, it sports a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout – but just the two seats.

Details are vague, but expect it to follow Mazda’s lightweight philosophy. Power will come from a new SkyActiv-R engine – likely to be turbocharged, so expect commendable efficiency combined with impressive performance if it makes it into production.

Reliability will also be important – something Mazda struggled with on the RX-8. Mazda president and CEO, Masamichi Kogai, said: “We have had quality issues with our rotary engines in the past, and want to make certain we don’t cause customers any more problems.”

The manufacturer has confirmed dimensions – at 4,389mm by 1,925mm by 1,160mm it’s slightly shorter, wider and lower than the RX-8.

Although previously rumoured to preview an ‘RX-9’ model, many are now saying it could see a return of the RX-7 name.

Whatever it’s called, we’re not alone in hoping Mazda puts the RX-Vision into production with few changes…

Mazda's RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go 'phwoar'

Mazda's RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go 'phwoarrr'

Mazda's RX-Vision rotary-engined concept car makes the internet go 'phwoar'

Rejoice, the rotary engine is back! Mazda’s unveiled its RX-Vision concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

It previews a new model from Mazda, set to take on the Porsche Cayman as a successor to the Mazda RX-8.

In typical RX fashion, it sports a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout – but just the two seats.

Details are vague, but expect it to follow Mazda’s lightweight philosophy. Power will come from a new SkyActiv-R engine – likely to be turbocharged, so expect commendable efficiency combined with impressive performance if it makes it into production.

Reliability will also be important – something Mazda struggled with on the RX-8. Mazda president and CEO, Masamichi Kogai, said: “We have had quality issues with our rotary engines in the past, and want to make certain we don’t cause customers any more problems.”

The manufacturer has confirmed dimensions – at 4,389mm by 1,925mm by 1,160mm it’s slightly shorter, wider and lower than the RX-8.

Although previously rumoured to preview an ‘RX-9’ model, many are now saying it could see a return of the RX-7 name.

Whatever it’s called, we’re not alone in hoping Mazda puts the RX-Vision into production with few changes…

Nissan IDS Concept

Nissan IDS Concept previews next Nissan LEAF at Tokyo Motor Show

Nissan IDS ConceptNissan has revealed the IDS Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015 to demonstrate its take on the autonomous car of the future – and provide a clear tease as to how the next-generation LEAF EV will look.

The IDS Concept is a zero-emissions EV that blends autonomous self-driving car functionality with artificial intelligence. This, says Nissan, helps give autonomous drive tech real-world relevance – something the firm is planning to launch on several vehicles within the next five years.

Nissan says the IDS Concept offers two functions, Manual Drive and Piloted Drive. Intriguingly, it will learn the driver’s own style and apply this to piloted driving: the cars will perform slightly differently, based on who’s been driving them previously.

Potentially some self-driving Nissan IDS Concepts will autonomously corner, accelerate and brake more quickly and sportily than others!

Nissan is keen to emphasise the fun-to-drive part and says the driver will still remain engaged even when the car is driving itself. This is an important factor in occupants having confidence in autonomous cars.

“Two zeroes”

Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “Nissan’s forthcoming technologies will revolutionize the relationship between car and driver, and future mobility.”

“Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver’s ability to see, think and react. It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents.”

It’s part of Nissan’s aspirations for zero fatalities and zero emissions, “in our mission to help create a sustainable car-based society”. The firm dubs this the ‘two zeroes”.

Two interiors

The IDS Concept has two interior layouts, one for each driving mode. In Manual Drive, all seats face forward, the steering wheel, dials and head-up display are all present, and interior lighting switches to blue: this is said to improve the ability to concentrate.

However, in Piloted Drive, the steering wheel folds away and the dashboard slides back below the windscreen, replaced by a large flatscreen instead. Seats rotate inwards, the interior is illuminated by soft light and all driving-related functions are handled either by AI or driver voice and gesture control.

Nissan reckons it’s like relaxing in a living room.

Drivers can switch between modes using the PD Commander between the front seats. When in Piloted Drive, this is the only control the driver can operate.

Multi-function exterior

The exterior panels are also functional. For example, there’s an illuminated silver bodyline LED strip that switches to red when pedestrians and cyclists are nearby – this is to assure them the car knows they’re there. The dashboard also has an electronic display that can flash text messages to pedestrians.

The Nissan IDS Concept wears lightweight carbon fibre bodywork that’s just 1,380mm high to lower the aerodynamic drag.

Wheels are large in diameter but relatively narrow in section, like on a BMW i3, again, to reduce drag. It’s a wheel-at-each-corner design to maximise interior space.

High-power EV

The IDS Concept has a 60kWh battery – twice the size of the revised Nissan LEAF we drove recently – and Nissan says the low weight, sleek aerodynamics and low stance “meet the need to drive long distances”.

Today’s extended-range LEAF can do up to 155 miles on a full charge, and the IDS Concept has double the battery capacity. With these other improvements in the EV drivetrain too, a driving range of 400 miles or more per charge seems likely.

For added convenience, the IDS Concept has wireless charging.

Future EV: future LEAF?

The big question is, does the IDS Concept preview the next Nissan LEAF? It seems almost certain the next-generation LEAF will include elements of its styling, such as the crossover-look stance and space-efficient proportions.

Remember, Nissan continues to have huge success with the Qashqai and Juke in Europe; it seems natural for its groundbreaking EV to incorporate similar elements.

We can also expect the next LEAF to be much more aerodynamic, perhaps with bigger, narrower tyres and plentiful body-smoothing features.

What’s also interesting is the autonomous element. Nissan says this is going to happen sooner than we think: a car that has a reconfigurable dashboard may be a bold step for 2020, but having more autonomous functionality on the already highly networked LEAF would also be logical.

Nissan knows the LEAF has done the groundwork in preparing the world for mainstream EVs: its successor can fully capitalise on this if the firm gets the styling and the functionality right. The pretty, clever IDS Concept suggests it’s preparing to roll out another EV revolution in the next few years…

New Lexus Design Concept

New Lexus Design Concept set for Tokyo reveal

New Lexus Design Concept

Another motor show, another set of teaser images in the lead up to the event. What you’re looking at here is, in part, a new Lexus concept car that ‘captures the company’s vision of progressive luxury’, which is set to be unveiled at next week’s Toyota Motor Show.

Lexus hasn’t released any further details, so you’ll have to make do with what is admittedly a rather nice headlight cluster. This doesn’t look like a radical departure from the existing design language, as the teaser shot shows elements of the NX, RC F and IS models.

New Lexus LS in 2016

This has strengthened rumours that this could be a hint of the next generation Lexus LS, which is set to go on sale in 2016. The existing LS has been in production since 2006, so the new model is long overdue. Sales in the important US market have dwindled in recent years, following high points in 2007 and 2008.

The new Lexus LS is likely to feature a 5.0-litre V8 engine, along with a new LS 500h hybrid model.

Prices of the current model, which goes wheel-to-wheel with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, start at £71,995.  The rear-wheel drive luxury saloon will need to be inch perfect to take on the Germans and win. Given the talk of ‘progressive luxury’, the LS is likely to offer a different take on what is a demanding segment.

The Design Concept will be one of 11 Lexus models on display. These include a the revised GS and the GS F super-saloon. The RX will be shown ahead of its international launch, before going on sale in the UK in January 2016. We’ll bring you more news on the concept when it is revealed on the 28 October.