The Great Tokyo Motor Show Let Down

The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show was an interesting one, so for this second and final look at the event, both Ron and I thought it would be a good idea to have a little discussion about what we saw at Tokyo Big Site on the press day.

We both arrived at the venue, cameras in hand, expecting a pretty hardcore day of Speedhunting. We were ready to go wild, spotlighting all the new cars that will define the Japanese performance aftermarket scene for years to come. But boy, were we let down.

For the first reveal of the day, we stood at the huge Toyota booth, patiently waiting for the covers to be pulled off the highly anticipated new Supra, a car that we’ve all seen plenty of spy shots of. But alas, it wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Under the cover was the GR HV Sports Concept (a hybrid version of the Toyota 86 with weird lights), which had already been revealed online a few weeks prior.

Dino: Man, were we left confused! I can’t believe we even had to do a second walk around just to make sure we hadn’t missed the damn thing.

Ron: I honestly was blown away – but not in the good way. I remember rushing in to try and get a decent spot for the grand reveal and then… nothing.

Dino: I didn’t take very long to realize that the underlying theme of this year’s show was EVs and autonomous driving. While I’m all for the evolution of the motor vehicle as a transportation device, I’m really hoping that manufacturers aren’t going to lose sight of the fact that there a lot of people who like to drive for the sheer joy of it. So I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out what the next generation Supra will be all about. By the way, Ron, what did you think of the Toyota 5 Series Crown Concept?

Ron: Well, from the front view it definitely still has a bit of Crown look to it, but as soon you start moving towards the rear it became blatantly obvious that Toyota has had some inspiration from BMW.

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I’ll admit that it does look pretty good, but the new car that Toyota really got right is the Century. It’s simply stunning!

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Dino: Oh man, totally. I think Toyota couldn’t have nailed the new Century any better; it’s the epitome of what this model has been all about since the first one rolled out in 1967. I call it ‘conservative opulence’.

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I mean, just look at the interior; it’s like the Toyota designers started off penning a luxurious Rolls-Royce rival, but halfway through their job got whipped by management. ‘No, tone it down; get rid of the leather, what would people say?! Make sure to use fluffy velour and don’t go overboard with the accessories!’

Ron: I really like the conservative look of the interior. Yes, leather would have been a nicer touch, but remembering that the Century is pretty much an executive suite with wheels for older bigwigs to be chauffeured around Tokyo in, bells and whistles would have been completely unnecessary.

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Dino: On the subject of big baller, luxurious sedans, we have to say a few words about the new Lexus LS. This car is going to be a hit in modern-day VIP and stance circles once they start coming onto the secondhand market and are affordable.

Ron: I still can’t believe how spacious the LS 500 is. With you in the front and the seat all the way back, I still had plenty of leg room.

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Dino: So this Viziv concept is the new Subaru Impreza WRX. Your thoughts, Ron?

Ron: I think it could have a lot of potential if Subaru does indeed carry over some of its signature design cues into the production vehicle. From the front, the Viziv has just the right amount of aggression to it, but the rear is a bit busy for my taste with the carbon fiber rear diffuser and angular quad exhaust pipes. I also see a bit of the new NSX in the rear. What did you make of it?

Dino: I don’t mind it at all. Sure, new cars keep growing in size, but the way Subaru has made this sedan look more like a coupe is a good thing, and the potential to beef it up into an STI model is obviously there. I’m not too sure about the angular Lamborghini Aventador-like wheel arches, though…

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Ron: The GT300 BRZ made a special appearance, which was a nice change of scenery from all the EVs and wild concept cars. I wonder if Subaru will borrow some tech from its Super GT race car to develop the new engine for the Impreza…

Dino: In the realm of concepts, it’s fair to say that Mazda pretty much killed it once again at Tokyo, just as it did two years ago with the RX-Vision. While that rotary-engined model hasn’t materialized yet, there’s no disputing the fact that Mazda’s design language is by far the cleanest, sharpest and most inspiring out of all the Japanese domestic auto makers. The Kai Concept hints at the future replacement for the Mazda3 and looks sensational, fusing simple yet sporty lines into what will be an affordable, everyday car.

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Ron:  I couldn’t agree with you more about Mazda; I was also pretty excited to see the RX-Vision again this year. I was even lucky enough to take a look at the inside, which is just as stunning as the exterior. You have to love the huge tachometer taking centerstage, too.

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Ron: It’s cool that Daihatsu clearly borrowed inspiration from the original 1960s Compagno to make its new concept car, which wears the same name. What did you think about it, Dino?

Dino: Much like what we thought of Honda’s EV concepts, this quirky little four-door is exactly the direction I think Japanese manufacturers need to take. Not only looking back at their history, but penning designs that actually have character.

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Ron: Speaking of Honda….

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Dino: I get excited these days when I speak of Honda, because unlike manufacturers who tell us that cool sports models will eventually come, it’s out there doing it. Yes, the NSX took a while, but it’s out now and we might be seeing something even more special based on it at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January. And then we have the über-cool S660. I told you you’d be able to fit in there!

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Ron: Just because I ‘fit’ doesn’t mean I really fit! With the stock configuration there is no way that could I drive it like a proper human being. That said, the desire to own one is still very strong…

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Dino: Right, let’s talk about the Germans, simply because there weren’t many other foreign manufacturers present. It’s saddens me to see the Tokyo Motor Show dwindle down to a shadow of its former self in this regard.

Ron: I can only imagine how awesome this show would have been one or two decades ago. But speaking of awesome, the Porsche GT3 constantly had a crowd of people drooling over it – myself included. We must review it for ourselves when it makes its way to Japan; I’d really love to present it in a media format that has moving pictures and sound.

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Dino: I was quite happy that Mercedes-Benz brought out the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE. We’ve heard there are a few allocations for Japan, so it make sense, plus the Japanese love AMGs in general. Central Tokyo is packed with them!

RonYeah, you really can’t go anywhere in Tokyo without seeing an AMG badge these days. The AMG Project ONE is an absolutely stunning piece of German engineering; I love how the air intake feeding the F1-derived 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 fuses effortlessly into a shark fin.

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Dino: What did you think of the Z4 Concept?

Ron: Perhaps besides the Project ONE, the design language of the Z4 Concept was one of my favorites from the entire show. Again, it will be interesting to see how much of this will actually transfer over into the production model.

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Dino: While I spent some time drooling over the new M5, it was the more performance-focused M4 CS that really caught my eye. Finally some proper good old fashioned speed to hunt!

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With 454hp on tap and some light bits to shave some weight, it seems to be the perfect track day tool; a sort of in-between to slot right in the middle of the Competition pack and the GTS.

Ron: This too would be another great candidate to add to the list of reviews. I do wonder how many people will take their CS and properly enjoy it on the track, though…

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Dino: I’m all for these type of cars, even if at times manufacturers seem to be rather good at coming up with limited edition versions to hike up the price and sell to collectors. Whatever, as long as they make proper performance cars like the CS – even though it needs a manual. Oh and yeah, I need those OLED taillights for Project Drop Top!

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Ron: Although the event was somewhat of a let down, OK, make that a big let down, it definitely wasn’t a waste of time. We did manage to get a few things lined up for the future, and were also able to look into the current mindset of the Japanese manufacturers. In that respect, EVs and autonomous driving will hopefully have a positive impact on not only the roads, but the planet as well.

I guess we will just have to keep hoping that enthusiasts are still catered for, too.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

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58 comments

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1

Stuff like this reminds me how incredibly sterile and boring modern car design is.

2

2008 chevy malibu everywhere.

3

Sterile, boring and yet overdone at the same time. Trifecta.

4

I could not agree with you more!

5

Really no innovative design, no manual transmissions, all the digital dashes look the same. Lines are clinical and don't evoke any emotion. The thing that's funny is we are getting so watered down when something comes along that's even half decent we all marvel at it.

I think the industry as a whole is seeing this in every aspect. History will become increasingly important and the value of older cars will sky rocket.

6

The manufacturers dont look at the enthusiasts anymore, they look at the common boring folk and build cars only to their needs, like crossovers for going to work going shopping then coming home, they dont build extravagent things anymore only very few manufacturers stick alongside the enthusiasts, its the sad truth

7

Yup. Don't have to tell me twice. I've been in the industry 25 years now. I know what pushes the bottom line in the accounting firm.

8

I work at a Toyota dealer and would love seeing the Century in person! Altough I dont think they'll never export them here.... eheh quite a shame we dont get much cool toyota models here in canada , Think im gonna be working corolla's and camry's t'ill my retirement ahah!

9

It's definitely not aimed toward the overseas market, American that could afford the century wouldn't understand and appreciate the car, especially the grey velour interior

10

That new Camry might put some young people in the seats with the design language alone. Unless the 'boring' stigma is present in the North too.

11

Yeah the new camry looks way better and with the 300hp v6 must be fun to drive, but for the price i dont think there will be that much around... the competition is fierce in that category... only time will tell!

Author12
Dino Dalle Carbonare

You can always import a 15 year old one LOL

13

So true Dino so true.

14

wish i could but thanks for living in Quebec the only province that got a law for imports to be 25 damn years old!

15

I'm just drooling over the new Crown and Century. Toyota, please, why can't you bring more of your JDM lineup to us North Americans?

Author16
Dino Dalle Carbonare

#becausejapan

17

sh*t, that phrase goes both ways

18

The Century just screams Yakuza cool haha. Imagine seeing one of those with tinted windows and your choice of country flags poking up from the front 2 fenders. Wait a minute...that would be a great idea for A drift car.

19

isn't Century (and older Crown Royal Saloon) use Wool instead of Leather because they are better material for weathers + doesn't make noise?

20

Why do I get the feeling that we car enthusiasts are a dying breed along with the enthusiast oriented cars?

21

I'm not sure what characterizes an "enthusiast oriented" car for you, but I have the disagree that they are not being made. In a world where 700HP with a warranty is a thing, and where even the most vanilla transportation can be had with 300HP I cannot agree with your argument.

I can get along with the styling converging, though. I suppose it has something to do with everyone using the same algorithms to predict aerodynamics and increasingly stringent safety standards.

22

We are. But not for lack presence. Business rarely follows enthusiasm, it follows the lowest common denominator. And without moral fortitude for that matter. The direction has been set. It's gonna be a sad road ahead for us lol.

23

Well, with that being said, as long as we can still drive our pride and joys beyond 2040, where most of the countries will ban the selling of new cars with ICE, I'm happy. :) Thanks for the reply!

24

Same reason why Time Attack is so popular and Ken Block has 50,000,000 views instead of Ari Vatanen. People forget history. Politics and youth culture ($$$) take over. Everything in the car culture is getting softer over time and the hardcore guys are becoming a very niche and underground market. One day a kid will look at you perplexed as to why you drive a manual transmission.

When you say it takes more skill the internet will rear its ugly head in protest. If (insert new youtuber) doesn't use it than there's no validity. Real drivers and racers are living in a strange world these days and it's only going to get stranger. Buckle up.

25

Reading this article was slightly painful. Like plastic American journalism. Reminds me of the guy from Motor Week, ick.

Z4's looking gorgeous, though!

26

The second gen z4 totally reeled me in, and with this new one I need to see some more pics. Design language is key. There a bazillion great cars out there, so we might as well drive the ones that look good too right?

27

When you're in it you can't see it.

28

Things like this leads me to believe that the companies only care about the numbers. The enthusiast is all but forgotten about. There's a lot of bland vehicles with only a handful worth catching anyone's attention. I hope TAS 2018 is much better when I return to Japan.

29

TAS is usually better. This is more of a consumer event if I'm not mistaken. Lots of business going on.

30

New Supra? So this would be the Mark VI, then?

Because they already did a Mark V - they just called it the LFA.

31

$400k is not a Supra. my $0.02

32

Maybe not, but a 2-door sport coupe at the top of Toyota's model range sure is.

33

The new Supra isn't going to be $50,000 dude...

34

MSRP for the 6 cyl supra will probably be $50-60k, dealers will hike it up to $70-80k. I think it will be very comparable to the M2.

35

That Century.. being an owner of the immaculate pre 2000's Toyota 22re powered pickup, that thing is immaculate. Simplistic, luxurious, akin to Toyota charm, winner....

36

I find the Daihatsu beautiful, reall hope they sell it just like that

37

I think the Daihatsu stole the show. What a breathe of fresh air.

38

Why don't you guys do a podcast? This was like a podcast, in text form.

39

While a speedhunters Youtube channel would be cool; this is the closest I can get to a solid (and cheap..) tuner magazine. SuperStreet doesn't even do centerfold models anymore.... Gotta hold on to SH for what it is. It keeps getting better and better honestly. I wouldn't want it to drastically change direction.

40

The show was indeed a bit of a disappointment but on the other hand, Mazda had a sick press kit USB key! (and free sushis!) :)
Also, while being about EVs and autonomous driving, it was still refreshing to see Alpina's CEO, Andreas Bovensiepen, clearly say that Alpina will remain focused on providing drivers' cars to their customers and won't end up doing autonomous stuff... Sure they only sell 1500 cars a year and their cheapest car is around 100.000$ but hey! Better than nothing, right?

41

Always cool to see an Alpina though right? Good to have feedback from the Chiefs too.

Author42
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Alpina rocks. Bit out of most people's price range though...

43

I'll be honest the Subi looks pretty sick(not the rear tho) and that M4CS, amazing. Not a big fan of the concept cars

44

I just can't see a future where autonomous cars and human controlled enthusiast cars sharing the same road is a thing. It doesn't make logical sense.

The only way enthusiast cars will survive is for them to have a "manual control" that can be used on a closed circuit.

So now you have a road car that isn't idealized for being part of an autonomous transportation system, and a track car that needs to carry all the electronics which make it comparable with the automated system, and all the road safety stuff.

Even if a couple manufacturers pull something off that works well in both environments, it won't be cheap, and aimed at the average enthusiast.

Government regs are going to start preventing private citizens from monkeying around with the mechanical bits of a car. You can't have a vehicle as part of an automated system if 16 year old Jimmy has gone in and chopped the springs and done dumb shit like that. Autonomous road cars will be untouchable by do-it-yourself, uncertified mechanics.

Enthusiast driving will become like golfing. You'll have an enthusiast car that you keep at a private driving facility. Think what your average golf club membership including kart storage costs...then imagine how much it would cost to store and secure an expensive enthusiast car at a private driving club. Be places already exist, and memeberships are in the 100s of thousands annually.

The autonomous car is the death of the driving experience and enthusiast car accessible to the average person.

45

Karting is going to be the shit in 20 years lol. Cheap to run, $40 track entry fees, run all day on 3 gallons of 91 octane. More G force in the corners than six figure super cars on racing slicks. I'm not worried about a thing man.

46

Remember that scene in iRobot where Spoon takes control of the (fucking awesome) R8 concept? Didn't end well for him XD.

Also, do you remember when John Deer tried to tell their customers that they don't own their equipment because of the proprietary software in the vehicle's computer? I'd have to dig for that info, but I'm sure it happened.

47

God damm mazda for making such awesome concepts (design wise) but never really have the b@lls to make them into production. Would sell my mother-in-law for an rx-vision

48

1) watch the Viziv either never happen, or happen with one of those transmissions you guys hate.
2) This is purely my opinion, but the Mazda concepts of the last few years are nothing special, if elegant. Draping body panels and uninspired design language is exactly what's wrong with modern cars today. The thing has no lines. Hell the Model 3 looks like there's more going on for god's sake.
3) Who knew Daihatsu would come in clutch with that little guy? That gets me excited just like the little s660 that I'm guessing I wouldn't fit into lol. I loved that widebody model you guys featured recently.
4) Conservative Opulence is what Bentley has been doing for the last 20 something years with the Continental, it doesn't work. Although in this case I would love to see the Century buzzing about.

I guess I'm bitter.. I wish more cool stuff would have been shown off. I want to see what's going to be available to me in the next few years as a young adult car owner. Lets cross our fingers for that Viziv thingy.

49

In a world full of automakers treating driving like a chore and not a pleasure, I begin to love Mazda more and more. They've finally found a design language beautiful enough to match the FD RX-7, and make cars that try to bring the fun back to the experience of driving. I can't wait to see where they take these concepts! Oh and #longlivetherotary

50

I still can't believe you guys believe in the Toyota brand to delivery "the goods" at these events. I mean, you guys have to be used the fact that they don't give a sh*t about the enthusiasts, and have done everything (except for the 86, for what it's worth,) to sh*t on their own sports heritage. Why do people still believe anything Toyota says or hints at?

*Rant over*

Author51
Dino Dalle Carbonare

around the launch of the 86 they really convinced us all that they didn't forget the enthusiast. Too bad that just lasted for only one car....Supra is coming though, it's just obvious it make more sense for them to show it at a more international show which represents bigger and more profitable markets. Japan is pretty dead for them...

52

Nice Event

53

Enthusiasts don't buy new cars in enough volume to make them worth it.

Smug, middle class, boring people want to buy electric cars in volume so they can feel good about saving the planet while charging their boring-mobile-batteries made with cobalt mined by slave labor in Africa and electrical stations powered by coal refineries.

Anyone could see these things coming. You spend enough time wailing and gnashing your teeth that exciting, raucous cars with bad mileage because of their manual transmission are killing Mother Earth and the market will meet your demand by giving you toxic electric battery cars with computer-controlled transmissions to ensure it gets as far as possible in as boring a way as it can.

54

Smug middle class...just say it: liberals. How can they virtue signal without EVs hahaha

55

Because conservatives and their over-regulatory corporatism and NIMBYism are just as harmful as the screeching hippies who prefer the smell of their own farts to burning rubber. American car companies are offering quite a few fun vehicles, but because of increasing safety regulations and emissions they're huge and expensive and out of reach for a lot of people these days.

Instead of building for enthusiasts, they're building for the people who will keep their companies afloat: the average boring voter.

Exhibit A: almost every car presented here.

56

Well said.

57

Cool collab' article guys. You've done the best with what you were given.

But wow, no Supra. What a let down...
The GR HV Sports concept is one of the most atrocious looking cars I've ever laid eyes on. There is hardly any cohesion or continuity in the design. At all.
It's all over the place, doesn't know what it's trying to be.
The terrible Headlights and Rim design makes me forgive the rear end a 'tiny' amount, but hardly getting by.

The Z4 is nice. The NSX I wonder if it'll ever get a Type R version. Tsuchiya-san seemed to disapprove of the new NSX when I asked him, he prefers the new Civic.

Thanks for the coverage guys.

58

Thanks for the coverage, guys. It's unfortunate it was a let down. That reminds me of the Denver Auto Show which is filled with the boring scraps and I think Porsche didn't even waste their time coming. How tall is Ron? sheesh! haha.

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