The Best Of The Rest From Tokyo
Excitement To Come

Japan is back. Or at least it’s well on its way. That’s the overall feeling I took away from what was an unexpectedly good Tokyo Motor Show this year.

Back in the mid-’90s as a car-obsessed high schooler, I remember what an incredible sight the annual show was. It was a showcase for Japanese technology, a parade of wild and exciting concepts with a constant emphasis on performance. While those ‘golden years’ are in the past, Japanese manufacturers are definitely trying to show us that they haven’t forgotten what excitement is all about. Actually, you know what, let me rephrase that… They completely forgot what making an exciting car was all about and now they have realised it they’re trying to fix the situation! Either way, I’ll take it, as I can’t stop thinking that they have let foreign manufacturers march into Japan and grab markets that they once dominated.


And I’m not talking about electric cars here, I’m talking about proper driving machines, the sort of models we hold dear to our hearts – from the affordable to the prohibitively expensive.


I have to begin with Mitsubishi, as on its stand in the halls of Tokyo Big Sight was a cool, pumped-up rally version of the plug-in Outlander. This was joined by the eX Crossover as a taste of things to come in Mitsubishi’s SUV line-up. See what’s missing here? You got it, nothing hinting at the demise or the future of the Lancer Evolution, nor anything else sporty for that matter. It’s a bit of a shame MMC has gone this way, but it’s probably the only way it believes it can win sales back. Here’s a tip for Mitsubishi’s management – how about a plug-in hybrid Delica? Surely that’s something more unique than yet another version of an SUV that just doesn’t sell well? The Delica D:5 is the automaker’s most interesting and unique vehicle at the moment – an eight-seater van with as much off-road capability as the Pajero. How cool is that? Expand on that and give the 10-year-old Delica a breath of new life. And as for the Lancer Evo, even if you aren’t going to make a successor, Mitsubishi, at least just tease us or get our juices flowing, because as it is, MMC is quickly fading from our minds…


After my quick stop by Mitsubishi I had to take a look at a few Radicals to reset my mind with some cool stuff on wheels! Ah, that’s better!


Ken Okuyama is best known for having designed the Ferrari Enzo, and since his days at Pininfarina he’s set up his own design house in Japan penning funky cars and other objects for various industries. The 780kg kode9 Spyder we first saw last year is pretty much ready for production and sales are said to begin next year. It might not be for everyone, but this is the sort of car that Japan really needs in its automotive arsenal, in the same way that the UK has a ton of small, low-volume manufacturers producing similar driver-focused machines. With a unique design, great engineering and Japanese reliability, you have a recipe for something very tantalising.


There was plenty of other interesting stuff to see at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, including this Jaguar F-type R. It looked superb from every angle. Parked next to it was the region’s unveil of the F-Pace, which I have to say is the most well-proportioned SUV I’ve ever seen. But that’s all I will say about it…


I’m sure most of you would have seen my spotlight on the STI S207 by now, and that was definitely the most interesting thing on Subaru’s stand. The new Impreza 5-door Concept was also unveiled and it previews what the 2017 Impreza will look like with a return to a hatchback design. I’m sure it will look a bit better once STI gets its hands on it.


Toyota is a big company, and it had a lot of stuff happening on its stand. But I for one wasn’t there to be wowed by fuel cell cars and that thing they call the new Prius, I was on the hunt for the most exciting cars I could find, and the first one I ran into was called Kikai. What makes this curious contraption interesting is that it was designed with no true goal or purpose; it’s simply a concept car expressing the beauty of design and mechanical functionality in its purest form.


It kind of reminded me of those wild concepts I saw at this show back in the ’90s; it looked cool and fresh and almost hot rod like in its layout with a central 3-seat capsule connected to exposed front and rear frames. Given the size of the engine at the back, it obviously wasn’t created with performance in mind, but nonetheless it was very cool, and to me perfectly represented what a Japanese concept car should be like.

The Future Is Bright

And then we have the S-FR. Thank you Toyota – thank you for keeping the exciting cars coming! This little front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car is a throwback to the equally compact Sport 800 of the ’60s and a reminder that driver-focussed cars need not be overly powerful nor complicated. A contained weight of just over 1,000kg and 130hp coming from a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine will make this a fun little car if it gets the green light for production. If that happens – and we really hope it does – we’re also hopeful that TRD, TOM’S or G’s will have a front bumper replacement ready at the time you can place an order, so that gaping grille can be toned down. A lot.


The proportions are just right, don’t you think? It’s bordering on cute, but still has the potential to be one exciting car – like the Honda S600, which is smaller, but less powerful.


Sticking with small cars for a moment, I can’t not talk about the Suzuki Alto Works. It may only have 51hp, but it runs lowered and stiffened suspension, Recaro seats, a close ratio 5-speed gearbox and a rather aggressive stance for a Kei car. These are the sort of cars that we are happy to be seeing – cars that put performance first.


Honda is doing one hell of a good job at this too, and really trying to wow enthusiasts with some fresh thinking. I won’t get too much into the new Civic Type R as I’ve got a more in-depth feature coming up, but there’s one other H-badged car that I have to talk about.


Yes, the new NSX. With the car being primarily aimed at the US market, many overseas media outlets have already tested it, so most people with an interest already know everything about it. My take on it? Well, there isn’t a lot I can say before I get to drive it, but for me the looks are far too nondescript – Honda should have probably called it something else. It does seem to pack a huge amount of technology though, but the price of all that has left me speechless!


Nissan didn’t have much to write home about. Another over-styled SUV…


And the IDS Concept. I think most enthusiasts still hold a grudge with Nissan after it confirmed that the super-cool IDx sports car concept that dominated the Tokyo Motor Show back in 2013 won’t be put into production.


Shame on Nissan for not jumping on the affordable sports car bandwagon, because it probably would have done a great job. It’s as if it doesn’t care though; if you want a Nissan sports car you have to get a GT-R, and the new one won’t be with us until 2020 and probably cost way more than you or I can afford. To tease us, however, it painted the Vision Gran Turismo concept in flat red, something that did look cool but in my mind not what the GT-R stands for.


With Nissan splitting the GT-R line-up between the comfort and street-oriented regular version and the fire-breathing Nismo variant which will be all about performance, the next five years will be an interesting time for the automaker’s hero car. It should be cool, but we still want this to happen Nissan/Nismo!

Japan Is Fighting Back

The 911 is dead. It’s no longer naturally aspirated. It’s lost all its character and will be snubbed by everyone. Yeah, right! The truth of the matter is, Porsche can do no wrong, and even if it now employs 3.0-litre turbo flat-sixes to meet exhaust emission and fuel consumption targets, you and I both know that the cars will probably drive better and sound just as good. Porsche used the Tokyo Motor Show for the global unveiling of the Carrera 4S, which now packs 420hp and can accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds with the PDK transmission.


The Porsche Macan GTS also made its first global appearance, and it slots in nicely between the base model and the Turbo version. This still remains the best SUV I’ve ever driven, and if these are the sort of cars Porsche needs to make and sell in big numbers so that we can get GT3s, GT4s and 918s, then so be it.


And speaking of the GT4, what a beauty this car is. Do you need more car than this?


Why is it that I always ask that same question when I’m the presence of a Porsche? I’m not biased, trust me, as I’ve always been one to root for the underdog, which is initially one of the things that got me interested in the mighty Skyline GT-R. But man, Porsche gets so much right!


Surprise, surprise, there weren’t many diesels being displayed on the Volkswagen Group stands. Audi is supposed to start offering diesels in Japan from next year, but I’m guessing it will stick to the TSFI cars while a replacement for the TDI badge is found. Truth be told, it doesn’t really mean anything as Audi still make stunning cars. One I do very much like is the all new R8; it’s the perfect evolution of the breed and it’s so cool Audi has stuck with the V10 motor.


The new TT is much the same – a very big step in the right direction. I look forward to sampling this and the R8 in the next few months.


RAYS is one of the biggest OEM wheel suppliers for Japanese manufacturers, which is why it always has a cool booth at the Tokyo Motor Show. Most of the familiar designs we all love and lust after were present, including the new G25 multi-spoke wheel.


Toyota’s luxury-oriented brand had some cool cars worth looking at, like the GS F we saw unveiled earlier in the year. Lexus’ main focus, however, was on the extremely long and sleek looking LF-FC.


It looks like the LS is in store for one hell of a makeover when the production version of this concept eventually becomes a reality.


While big luxury sedans may not be something we usually focus on here at Speedhunters, we do see more and more of these cars in the VIP and stance-oriented scenes, and therefore we do take notice. The S-Class and 7 Series may have some serious competition in a couple of years.


To wrap up, however, I do have to go right back to the first and most important car we saw at this year’s Tokyo show – the RX-VISION. Mazda has to make it, and from all accounts it sounds like it will happen. It may look very different once it makes it into production in a few years, but the important thing is that it will be there.

If there’s one thing manufacturers shouldn’t forget, it’s that they all need a halo car – one that makes us dream, and one that reinforces the brand identity and recognition. I think the next few years are going to be among the most exciting we’ve ever seen from Japanese carmakers. So much seems to be brewing and hopefully all manufacturers will follow suit.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Toyota 86 front bumper on that little yellow thing would go alright I think


The rear end styling of the Lexus LF-LC (terrible way to name the car) somehow reminds me of American cars from the 1950s. Not sure why. Maybe it's the chrome. Looks nice though. The front however.... that grille is hideous!!!


The S-FR just needs a mouth with big teeth painted. Looks somebody had fun building the Kika with random parts lying around at the factory, could be a character in the next "Cars" release.  :)


Awesome write up as always! 

Nissan needs to make an affordable sports car. I thought after they saw how many 86's Toyota sold they would see there is a big big market for "affordable" sports cars. 

Mitsubishi makes me sad. I love the Evolution line and hate that they cut it. Most of their cars now are just so mundane I wont even look twice at them.


including the Germans, is there any other foreign manufacturers joining Tokyo Motor Show? I really hope the Italians join one day.


The Kode9 must have taken some inspiration from the Alfa Romeo Discovolante. So many similar lines. It looks great!


Why do all new cars look so angry? The SFR and the new Miata in particular, can't they just embrace and accept how cute they are?


That rally Outlander looks aweosme


DinoSawr I agree that Nissan gets this all wrong. GT-R and Z are great but c'mon. Most people still can't afford a used GT-R and the fact that Nissan doesn't offer a certified pre-owned version at the dealers (like Porsche and Mercedes) is another significant blow.


No new Silvia? I"m walking away kicking rocks.


muazyusof Only FCA had a pseudo-stand in what is just a big area between halls. A 500 Abarth, and a couple of Alfas and no new Giulia!!! Mostly a bunch of colourful Jeeps. Ferrari nowhere to be seen despite Japan being a very important market. Maserati, nothing really new to show. Lambo - see VW


bearclaw_18 Well spotted!


NYporkdept LOL


abezzegh87 Amen


LukeEVOVIII I agree. Now make a production version like the Pajero Evo haha. Too bad MMC is way too boring for that now


@Saint Nope. And so, we wait some more. Hope. Dream...cry


Yossarian I'd be surprised if they called it anything other than an LS by the time it hits production.


*crosses fingers for the S-FR to be under $25k* love these shots, and that the Suzuki Alto is a piece of art if you ask me! :)


DinoSawr Cheap Nissan Coupe - yes, IDx in any form - hell no


I recon Nissan should make a half price Gtr called the gtst. Rwd, manual (dsg optional), same engine but decreased hp to around 400, smaller brakes, smaller wheels 19's, slightly less aluminium parts and slightly less decked out interior (although Gtr interior is already bland). Pretty much the difference between previous gtr's and gtst's I want them to do to the 35. It would make it affordable, fun (rwd, manual) and get people passionate about Nissan again. Yea it won't happen this model or the next less be real, but I think it's a decent enough idea.


SmithG23 I was hoping under $20k. The FRS/BRZ is $27 in Canada.


"nondescript" is a term I like. I've been searching for what I don't like about it. It's not that it doesn't look good, but the older nsx's had a cockpit centric aesthetic.


Gary89 How about just a "Skyline" thats around 300-350hp, RWD, and without all the bells and whistles (base engine block and frame)? And I don't mean that wierd G35 they tried to call a Skyline. Price that bad boy at an entry level of $30k and watch the aftermarket freaking explode....


The skyline has always been based off the Gtr chassi so thats why I proposed that idea and I think it may be easier and more cost effective for them to base a car off a proven design than to completely redesign and engineer a car ground up. The id X really Fits the bill of what you mentioned above and what Nissan lovers are dying for but I'm afraid it's just not going to happen, not anytime soon anyway.


Dino, the Lexus concept isn't called the LF-LC (which was absolutely stunning and the best implementation of the spindle grille in my opinion) it's actually called LF-FC (Lexus Future - Fuel Cell) which has some fuel cell technology implementation like the Toyota Mirai.


Thoughts from a random nobody:
- Mitsubishi have been dead to me since Tetsuro Aikawa said Evo DNA lives on in the Outlander's AWD system. My cat shares a certain amount of DNA with a lion but I'm not about to watch her bring down a wildebeest.
- What's with all the butterfaces these days? Do designers start with the back, then finish off the front end after a lunch of tequila slammers?
- If I was buying a Porsche I can think of plenty of worse "mandatory options" than a turbocharger. I foresee a future SH filled with "lame, just another 1,000hp Porsche" comments.
- I will take my RX-VISION in gunmetal grey, please.


CJC_Matty Haha best comment so far!


johnbezt It just looks so generic almost, there isn't anything on the design to write home about. It's just not sticking at all


Gary89 Nissan doesn't seem too interested in giving normal people access to performance. Only the richest are entitled to it. As I said, the GT-R spirit is truly dead as it's only aimed at the wealthiest. Z addresses that to some part but it's so outdated it's almost not relevant. As for the mean the Benz-powerd 4-cylinder turbo version of the Hybrid version? Yup, that name is very much wasted now too :(


I recently made a photoshop of the S-FR!


_rafal DinoSawr yeah it is, my bad, hit the wrong key


era haha nice, not get rid of that grille too


speedhunters_dino era

It is a bit big isn't it haha


$27k for an FRS/BRZ/86? Funny, i have to pay $65k for that in Indonesia haha


@Saint the day will come... lets not kid our selfs, it wont, but it should


on that nissan suv how in the world would you buy factory tires for that. "yeah i want the tires that have the weirdest tire wear."


Yup, very unfortunate, they went from having the pulsar gtir, skylines, silvias, laurels etc to only having the Z (which is bland and still a big investment new) and the Gtr (even second hand out of reach). Hopefully they see the error of their ways when the little Honda's, Mazda and Toyotas take a huge chunk out of the performance pie.


speedhunters_dino kinda weird seeing FCA didn't bring the new Giulia considering the large Alfa Romeo following in Japan. it might help them if they bring it to Tokyo Motor Show.


abezzegh87 and too big to compete in wrc.... oh hello focus rs


The one car I didn't see here, that I REALLY wanted to, was a new Silvia. But whatever, I guess Nissan has to focus their time and money into the new Versa and Leaf.


speedhunters_dino LukeEVOVIII Remember the original Pajero Evo? That was awesome, they should do it again... like an ASX Evo


Ryan Olson yeah, so depressing.


era speedhunters_dino yeah, needs to be gotten rid of ...stat


Gary89 Yeah they are well out of it now. Oh now, wait, they have the Nismo Juke and Nismo Note!! We are saved!


Bima Leksono Rough deal! They start at 2.9 mil Yen in Japan


Trentworth speedhunters_dino LukeEVOVIII New GTO! Mirage? Galant? ...


muazyusof speedhunters_dino You would think! The Japanese are crazy about Alfas and they will buy a ton go Giulias. Very bad move, considering they have so many cars floating around in Italy on display it's shameful they didn't ship one over for this show


I like the s-fr- s front. It looks like an angry Pikachu or something similar. :D
And I think the Outlander plug-in hybrid is kind of great. It costs about the same, as other plug-in hybrids, but it's an suv with some sort of all wheel drive. It could be a near perfect car for everyday use.


..I thought the Toyota S-FR, wad having a 1.5 turbo engine, less it will also :). They really should make it!!.


speedhunters_dino Gary89 but still they aren't something that equivalent to say silvia etc :(


Bima Leksono yeah we need to pay it double since we have a lot "things to be done" before car driveable. oh yes RX8 come at almost similar price tag too




I also photoshoped this cool little  S-FR


Definitely agree we need an S16!
In the grand scheme of things though, of all the Japanese manufacturers, I've been the most impressed with the direction Nissan has gone in the last 10 years.
For me it started with the Z33. Then came the GTR, and importantly, the GTR GT3 along with it. Nissan has shown that they can build a racecar that can hang with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren, AMG, BMW, Lamborghini, Audi, Bently, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. In GT racing, Nissan is the only one currently flying the Japanese flag (fingers crossed the Lexus GT3 has a more successful 2016 than 2015. Hopefully Scott Pruett can work a miracle). Then there's GT Acadamy and the Nissan Driver Acadamy, which has proved to be an extremely succesful program (with NDA graduates winning two of the top GT3 championships in 2015. Also, the GTRs competing in PWC were usually front runners, and same with the Z34 GT4s in the CTSCC). Now we see Nissan return to Le Mans with an extemely ambitious project.
So while part of me is disappointed we haven't seen anything regarding an S16, I am happy to see Nissan jump into the deep end of motorsport, and happier to watch them succeed (turning a blind eye to the LMP1 project for now...). I don't think Nissan has necessarily forgotten about their "grassroots, enthusiast" marked altogether. I think they're currently focused on expanding the racing pedigree of the brand on a global level.
Toyota is a close second for me. I love what theyre doing with the 86GT and this new S-FR. I'm also anxious to see how the RCF GT3 gets on in 2016, and look forward to a resurgence in LMP1 after having thier asses handed to them in 2015 (resting on their laurels much?).
And who can forget Mazda, always plugging along flying the sports car flag. What would the world be without Mazdas!? In America, they do a great job with the MX5s in various touring car classes and helping develop young racers, as well as provide race seats to many under employed pros.


The wheels on this one may be familiar to some Speedhunters readers!


speedhunters_dino Trentworth LukeEVOVIII Yeah we could all go for one of those but we all know they're not happening anytime soon, crossovers run the show now and Mitsubishi has a good one in the stable that they could use...just update the 4B11 (which the ASX has carried in non-turbo form), add the 4WD system and you're done, new Active Sports Crossover Evolution.


era Is it Mr. Aasbo's?


speedhunters_dino Ryan Olson We have a, er...quite a S16 actually....


rally2727 Yes, Motegi Traclites! The same wheels on Aasbo's tC but I PS'd these wheels directly off of the Tanner Foust RWB Beetle!


DAT RX-VISION THO! Looks amazing. I wish I had access to some behind the scenes Mazda R&D to see what they are brewing to go under that bonnet.


Not impressed, if the bigggest reveal was a FWD Civic Type R, the Japanese have a long way to go. The RWD sport car sector is what drives the Japanese sport car market and until the Z and FRS get the proper chassis/engine combination,it will
be a dull day for japan.


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