6 Standouts From The Tokyo Motor Show

Here at Speedhunters, we’re all gearing up for a huge SEMA Show in Las Vegas next week, but before I jump on a flight to the States, there was the not-so-small matter of the Tokyo Motor Show to check out. We’re going to kick things off with a quick look at six standout cars from the event, as captured at the media-only day.

Before we get started, no, there was no new Toyota Supra, no new Mazda RX-7, and no new Nissan Silvia. The rumors that have been floating around for ages didn’t materialize for the 44th Tokyo Motor Show. While the Supra (or whatever Toyota will name it) will still happen, Japanese manufacturers seem to be all about the electric vehicle future and autonomous driving now. But over-the-top and glitzy marketing moves aside, there were still some cars worth taking a closer look at; just not as many as there traditionally are at this biennial event.


Honda has jumped on the EV bandwagon in a big way, but rather than creating awkwardly-styled concepts that have little link to whatever we might see in the future, it has looked to its history and given a real retro feel to both the Sports EV and Urban EV concepts.


Honda isn’t saying a whole lot about the Sports EV, except that it’s intended to be fully electric and boast artificial intelligence. I suppose that’s why it says ‘Hello’ when you get close to it.

Gimmicks aside, if this is Honda’s design language for the future, I’m all for it. At least there’s instant visual gratification, which certainly can’t be said about some cars from other domestic manufacturers who seem to be totally lost when it comes to direction. I totally get that we’ll all be daily-driving EVs eventually, but there’s no need to make them look like spaceships. The Sports EV’s S600/S800 link is undeniable, as is the Urban EV’s first-gen Civic roots.


Now this is more like it – the IF-02RDS from Ikeya Formula. Yes, the same Ikeya Formula that does adjustable suspension links and the famous ‘Sequen Shifter’ which transforms a regular H-pattern into an I-pattern sequential. We saw the first generation of this car two years ago, but since then the project has been really ramped up.


The car is completed and has even passed Japanese homologation for road use and was proudly wearing a license plate. Underneath the LMP-inspired exterior is a custom chassis, double wishbone suspension at each corner, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.


The two-seater cockpit reminds me of a Schuppan 962CR, or any homologation special. It’s a very tight fit by the looks of it, but just like a proper sports car should it runs a manual transmission with the shifter mounted to the right side of the right-hand drive driving position. That lever actuates the world’s first single-clutch, seamless dog transmission, which is pretty much a race transmission optimized and smoothed out for road use.


This car oozes awesomeness from every possible angle and is a superb example of what the Japanese are able to do if they put their mind to it. While the body on this car is FRP, there will also be a carbon fiber option available.


Here’s an angle for the aero buffs out there. Ikeya Formula is even developing its own naturally aspirated, high-revving V10 engine to offer as an option for the IF-02RDS, and there are links between this project and the Aspark Owl electric car that was shown at this year’s Frankfurt show. I definitely need to take a closer look at this thing!


A big high five to Subaru – or more specifically its tuning wing, STI – for two new enthusiast models. The BRZ STI Sport will only be sold in Japan, and while it’s not the turbocharged version we’ve all been waiting for it does boast minor upgrades to make the driving experience more fun.


STI has thrown in some bracing to stiffen up the chassis, and specially tuned Sachs dampers with firmer and lower springs.


Apart from a crackle finish to the intake plenum, the FA20 under the hood remains untouched; 197hp will just have to do for anyone interested in picking up one of these limited edition cars.


There are 18-inch multi-spoke wheels at each corner and rather generously sized Brembo brakes front and rear.


The interior gets red highlights on the seats and door trims, while the cool grey exterior color will be limited to 100 cars.


The same color is also available on the Impreza STI S208, seen here sporting the optional NBR Challenge Package (350 cars only), which will set you back the equivalent of US$62,500. Like the BRZ STI Sport, this is a Japan-only model.

The EJ20 in the S208 develops one kilowatt and one Newton meter more than the engine that powered the S207. The focus has been on response and feeling through refined balancing and fine tuning, so the 325hp on tap, while more than enough to have fun with, doesn’t define the car.


The massive Brembo 6-pot front calipers from the S207 have been retained, and the black BBS 19-inch wheels seem to fit the flat grey/blue color rather well.


Hip-hugging Recaro seats and an Alcantara-clad steering wheel is all you need to care about in the interior; the rest is pure Impreza and that means a simple yet functional cabin. Of course there’s the STI pink trim and numbered badge to remind you that you’re at the wheel of something special.


The show car was also wearing the optional carbon trunk spoiler.


All 450 S208s will come with a lightweight carbon roof that shaves precious weight from the highest section of the car.


It might not be a groundbreaking machine, but it’s beyond refreshing seeing a manufacturer stick to what it’s good at. More of this please, Subaru/STI!


The up! GTI is a little car that stopped me in my tracks. Disappointed by the fact that all Japanese domestic manufacturers have gone soft, are overly PC, and seem to have EV tunnel vision, I felt like I had found the light at the VW booth. The up! may be tiny, but this GTI version which was unveiled earlier in the year in Europe, is what more car makers should be offering.


Sure, make your EVs and tell us how we won’t need to touch the steering wheel in the future, but don’t forget to build cars for driving. 


The GTI is just that, a lightweight driver’s car; it packs a 113hp, three-cylinder turbo motor driving the front wheels and weighs in at just 997kg. Plus you have to love the tartan seat fabric, a nice throwback the Mk1 Golf GTI which wasn’t too far off this car’s dimensions, weight and performance.


Are my eyes failing me? Is that really what I think it is? A 6-speed manual in a modern day car? Yes! Take note car makers the world over, this is what’s needed to create a fun car.

The up! GTI’s looks are kept pretty simple in a very VW sort of way. There are subtly beefier front and rear bumpers, bigger wheels, and red pin-striping to hint at the little car’s sports nature.


The final car that I picked for this post of must-see cars from the show is a Lexus.


Toyota’s premium off-shoot is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fuji (F) spec, which was first introduced in 2007 with the IS F. Coincidently, that’s the same year the R35 GT-R was introduced, and that’s a car that’s still on sale today. It makes you think…

The celebration here seems to be an abundance of carbon fiber, something that Lexus is rather good with. I mean, check out the F logo weaved into the side skirts. Mind blown!


To contrast it all is a satin grey exterior which highlighted all the complex Lexus-esque lines rather beautifully under the spotlights.


The interior gets blue leather seats and accents, but the coolest thing of all is the carbon trim.


It’s a weave of silver, black and blue carbon strands which creates an almost jewel-like effect.


50 of these cars will be built along with 50 GS F models, which was also shown at the show. It’s a rather fitting celebration of a brand that over the last decade has really established itself in the high performance world.

That’s it for now from the Tokyo Motor Show, but I’ll be back soon with a wider look at the event in collaboration with Ron, so make sure you tune in for that.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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None of those stood out as much as the reverse-Clark Kent equivalent of automotive journalism :)

Dino Dalle Carbonare

haha lol


There's supposed to be a concept there to at least shed some light on the new generation of the Nissan Z line. I'd really like to see a couple shots of it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

There was no such thing. The only concept was the IMX which is an EV 4-door crossover


Will it have a ragtop like the last one they made?


Well that sucks. I had seen that it was supposed to be there and I was looking forward to it. Oh well, thanks anyway.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It sucks indeed. The Z34 is 11 years old this year. The GT-R is 10 years old. The Silvia has been gone for even longer. I mean I get that EVs are important for the future but FFS every brand needs a few pinnacle cars to balance the blandness out right. Gambare Nissan, you can do it!



"...a few pinnacle cars to balance the blandness."

Name me a Renault road car that fits the bill of being the pinnacle of anything but blandness. None since the Maxi 5 Turbo, or those wierd midship Clios, that I can think of.

For Renault, a brand that's been the title favorited in FE since it's inception, and that since 2005 has won the F1 WDC and WCC 6 out of 13 times (2 with Alonso/Renault, 4 with Vettel/RB-Infinite), their production car lineup could not be more bland and boring.

This ain't the same Nissan that we knew as kids.


Clio Williams hardly needs mentioning, just for starters, but the one everyone seems to miss is the Clio 172 Cup, which is/was the best hot hatch of its generation IMO (2001-2002, some registered 2003). The thing is glorious fun- a gnat's hair over a tonne with 170hp and brilliant handling isn't anything to sniff at unless you're determined to find fault. No ABS, no air conditioning, everything stripped back, short gear ratios, thinner glass in the side windows, pretty much nothing on the car that isn't necessary for it to pass an MOT and go around corners fast.

The only way you could dislike that car is if you're one of those daft Neanderthal anti-FWD chauvinists or a pure drag racer.


Captain Hat, ok, fair point. Sounds like a fun car. I'm no rwd snob, although I prefer them, I still respect and enjoy fast fwd cars.

However, let's brake down what you've said in context of what I've said.

You're talking about a 170hp Clio from 2001-2003 as being the best thing Renault has produced in the last 20 years? Kind of illustrates my point, no?

Furthermore, again, you're talking 2003, pre Renault winning F1 championships in the modern era. Since 2005, when Alonso won his first title, Renault have put out shit for road cars.

Now Mitsubishi is part of the Nissan/Renault alliance, and low and behold, they no longer make the Evo. Coincidence?

Renault has assigned Nissan to take its place in FE starting in 2019 (I think it's 2019, maybe '18). Large amounts of NISMOs R&D depeartment will go towards the FE program. All this so that Renault can focus on a full assault on F1, especially in 2020 when the new regs come in. If Renault stick to their pattern of the last 20ish years, none of that indicates they will put out any kind of flagship supercar / enthusiast car. Something kinds can stick on their wall, collect hotwheels of, or when you see one drive by on the street, younget goosebumls. It doesn't really seem in their nature of late.

The more time goes on, the more Nissan's lineup looks like a French manufacturer's road car lineup...a bunch of eco bubble cars with maybe one Hot Hatch.

I'm not actually trying to have that much of a go at Renault. All I'm saying is that the Nissan of 2017 is not the same Nissan from the 80s or 90s.


I'm not disagreeing with the general sentiment. Renault doesn't really make anything that would turn my head these days, even the Clio 200s and so on are a little too bulky for me. If they made a proper RS Twingo that might be fun, but as it is I'm not all that fussed tbh. Meanwhile the Megane 225 or whatever the latest Megane RS model is, is about as sporty as Renault seems to get on the road these days. It's a little disappointing, because I'd love to see a modern successor to the Cup, at least partially so I could take a lease out on one and buy the time to restore my current one :p

They were trying to revive the Alpine brand at one stage I think, and I did see a couple of interesting concepts from them, but I never really heard or saw how those went. Been paying more attention to Speedhunters than the rest of the industry recently if I'm honest, looking for potential inspiration for my Mk3 Civic build (a pretty extensive restomod involving a B18c6). There've been a couple of nice grassroots features recently on low-cost small, lightweight cars which are right up my proverbial alley, and for a gent like myself (with an odd predilection for hot hatches) that's always nice to see.


correction: the Z34 launched in 2009 so it's now 8 years.....since when did a 370z released in 2006?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It was announced in 2006, pre-production concept shown in 2007 and sold form December 2008 in Japan. So yeah not 2006, just got confused when I actually saw the first concept. Still, doesn't exactly change the whole argument here right?


Yup......But hopefully the next Z will be as always a sports car and not a(sorry for the foul language)f***ing crossover like the eclipse cross


Loving the direction Honda is taking with EV's really shows that they do take into consideration more than just commuting cars.
Owning a slightly low power car myself (Fiesta ST) I can understand the STi approach to the ZN6 platform. its meant to be fun not a tire killer, it's more a car to find your own limitations and once you've found them you realize that you haven't even come close to what the car can really do

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Plus a car like that will always make you a better driver


I'm properly excited about the Honda EV's they look SO GOOD. As for the Up! GTI - CRAZY the Up! not the golf, not even the polo but the Up! is now there original golf comparison for size. An exciting base for younger drivers and look forward to seeing where the aftermarket industry take it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's crazy right! It all brought back memories of throwing my uncle's MK2 GTI around and spinning it on a tight mountain road. Fun cars, fun times


how hard is it for Subaru to just put a damn turbo on the BRZ? And calling it an STI? Maybe if it was written like this: Subaru BRZ "STI??"


I wish people would drop this turbo BRZ thing. It's not going to happen. There is physically not enough room for an OEM turbo setup in these cars. And before someone brings up the WRX, compare them side by side and you'll understand. The WRX's engine sits about 4-5 inches higher and much farther forward in the engine bay than the BRA. And even then there is a heavy aluminum skid plate to protect the turbo.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Obviously very hard haha I honestly don't think it's ever going to happen.


How is it that people put aftermarket turbos and super chargers on them if it’s so impossible???


Use your brain. AFTERMARKET turbos and superchargers do not have to follow the ridiculous amount of emissions, smog and safety standards that OEM has to go through. That is why it is called the "aftermarket".

Secondly, if the manufacture was to do all of that turbo stuff they would have to redesign all the little mechanical bits for the extra power and make them beefier which adds weight. They would have to do all that redesigning so they don't accidentally make a lemon which would make a car nobody would buy. It is not just a simple slap on a turbo for the manufactures. They actually have to be responsible for that upgrade. Ever notice how when you do that turdbo yourself the warranty automatically is cancelled?


"Never". The likelihood may be low, but I doubt the issue would be "all that redesigning". And what is the link between a manufacturer using forced induction and a diy turbo cancelling warranty? Use your brain.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The costs alone to re-engineer the engine, homologations, emissions wouldn't be cost effective. Plus being a manufacturer they'd have to guarantee nothing else would fail. Add more power & torque and you need a tougher clutch, maybe a larger input shaft, stronger gears, prop shaft, diff, drive shafts, even transmission cooler? Handling would need to get a revision, braking etc. It sounds easy but in practice it's a huge investment for the manufacturer even if they share the costs with parent company Toyota. Plus these cars are helping the aftermarket survive so they might as well let people figure that stuff out on their own.


Yeah... althoug some of the other manufacturers do it. Yes they would have to re-engineer the whole suspension, transmission etc, but that is the point make the car faster the right way. AMG, M power etc do it with their cars, of course they sell for higher prices than their regular versions. Reality from my point of view is that they (STi, TRD) are more a corporation they are in this to make money above anything else, they probably wont do something unless they see a big profit, and who am i to blame them, its a business after all. Still it would be nice to see a turbo BRZ, not going to happen. Also note that the most sensible people
would probably buy the OEM turbo BRZ instead of going thru the hassle of modifying it themselves with aftermarket pieces taking away from that market. And also remember part of the appeal of the brz/gt86 is that you buy a sketch of a car and make whatever you want of it, some guy fitted a Ferrari engine to it..


Hey "Rob Bowers" did you read this post from Dino? ^^^^^^^^^^

Explains what I was talking about. It looks like YOU weren't using your brain ;-) I use mine very well.

Brennan McKissick

Honda's take on EVs is my favorite of any of the manufacturers thus far. I love the Urban EV concept. I've always been a fan of the Lexus F line as well. I'd love to be able to own an IS-F, GS-F or RC-F. I think they look phenomenal.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Honda is taking the common sense approach, i.e. not trying hard to make EVs look different from normal cars. I still don't get why so many manufacturers have to emphasize the fact that a car is electric by making it fugly. Was part of the success of the Model S IMO, it just looks like a sleek sedan no bulls#it details that do nothing

Brennan McKissick

I agree as well. I'd really like to see more electric and/or electric hybrids based on the same body and chassis as existing cars as manufacturers start to release their new vehicles. I don't know how that would wreck the manufacturing line, but it would be cool to see from a customer stand point. I think it works well for sports cars like the Tesla Roadster and the BMW i8 but the i3 looks like shit and I still hate the way the Prius looks and the Bolt.


And as for the names! SMH


I agree on the Model S. But part of me also likes the bmw i3 and it's fugly design language. It's a nice change of pace from the uninspired draping body panels of cars today.


Couldn't agree more :)


I would buy that Honda 'MK I GTi' look a like as long as I can switch the Honda logo to a VW logo at will!!! I really like the look of it and the technology is promising.


I'm guessing Honda didn't think to base it on the original Civic then?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah Honda has plenty of history to fall back on. In fact all Japanese manufacturers do. For some reason though they don't often bother looking back for inspiration. I'd rock that Urban EV!


Ikeya Formula's IF-02RDS... a Le Mans race car for the road! Fantastic!


just like a proper sports car should it runs a manual transmission with the shifter mounted to the right side of the right-hand drive driving position

What's this supposed to mean? (Genuine question)


Which bit? Manuals are legit for old-fashioned sports cars and sports prototype racers.

If you look at the photo, the gear stick is to the right of the driver's seat, which is also on the right side of the car. This is unusual for a road car, usually gear sticks are in the middle of the car, so on the left of a right-hand-drive car (so Japan/Australia/UK market) and on the right of a left-hand-drive (i.e. US market) car. However, oldskool 1980s Group C racing cars often had the stick to the right of the driver, regardless of where the driver's seat was. So did F1 Cars when they were manual too.


Oh no, I just thought Dino meant there is some advantage to putting a manual in that configuration.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah admittedly it's not that clear but yeah, that's what I meant. Just nice to see manuals. I'm so going to have to feature this car!


I love the idea behind the up! GTI, but its silhouette looks a little too much like a mini Kia Soul. No doubt would be a blast to drive, though.

And that RC F, though still a polarizing design, has some seriously beautiful trim.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I dont mind the deign honestly, the essence of the car speaks a lot more to me than sheer looks. We need more cars like this seriously. As for Lexus, man they do so many things right but at the same time f$%^ so many more up. Fine, do your torque converter thing on all your cars, even those horrible CVTs on hybrids but for serious cars give people serious gearboxes. Toyota needs to develop a dual clutch for all its "F" cars and have an manual option too. Period. No arguing. Just get on with it Toyota. If you can fix the mobility issues of the future as you hinted on your presentation, you can bloody well design a decent gearbox or 2!


That Ikeya Formula IF-02RDS has a big Toyota GT-ONE look to it....!

Very cool looking motor.


I was thinking the same! Beautiful modernization of the iconic racer.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's a Radical with a GT-One body on it lol. But who cars, these are the sort of crazy cars we need more of!


Customers: Subaru, the chassis is already great, can we get a little more power?

Subaru: I've got a better idea, we'll keep power the same and increase the weight!

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Ikeya Formula IF-02RDS is my new favourite car, which is weird because my previous favourite car only have the title last for 24 hours, and that one was Apollo Automobil's new IE (Intensa Emozione)... oh, and IF-02RDS is my new favourite car isn't because of the name, but because it's a road-legal LMP-inspired car with just a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

BTW Ikeya Formula is also involved on another crazy car, the Aspark Owl. Ever heard of that?


Yup, was unveiled at Frankfurt Auto Show & I'll be honest with you, I don't like Aspark Owl as much.


I totally agree with you on Honda's hopeful new design language. They're starting to look like Gundam shit nowadays. Back to basics.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Simple is always best. Manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota should hit the reset button at their respective design studios


Big high 5 to subaru??? They presented like a handful of cars that'll never make it off their shores. They slapped the sti badge on the brz without even so much as lifting the hood. That futuristic wrx thing (not pictured) is the only one moderately interesting, and it's a concept. They lost their way about 10 years ago.


The whole thing read like a pitch. He knew nobody gave a crap about any of these "cars" but still had to put together an article.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Jeff, if you think like that you've missed my point entirely. Yes the Tokyo Motor Show this year was as close to a disgrace for Japanese manufacturers as you can get. But STI shined because they are at least still doing the cars that we love. Sure their s#$t hasn't changed for well over a decade, I mean they are still using the goddamn EJ20 with a 6 speed manual configuration which we can trace right back to the first Impreza. 325 HP in this day an age is nothing short of a joke, especially on a $65,000 car. BUT.....what else do we have in Japan? Tell me! An 11 year old 370Z? A 10 year old GT-R that has ballooned in price to the pint that it's no longer the performance bargain it used to be. At least Subaru/STI gives us the cars that we've grown up loving....


So Nissan was a no show on the new Z everyone wants to be made. Have they completely given up on the budget performance market or what? Seems like a huge mistake given that BRZs, Mustangs, and MX5s have been selling like hot cakes

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Massive massive mistake. They are so involved in the whole EV future that then have completely forgotten an important component to their brand. So I'm sure the 11 year old Z will get another refresh in the next 6 months to keep it going for another 4 years. I think after it's been on sale for 15 years they'll have something to replace it with. The GT-R too has to go till 2020. Nissan especially seems beyond confused with what it should be doing with its line up, its brands and its markets. They need a monumental reshuffle of core leaders in their group, people that respect the company's history and that understand that its fine to make EVs as long as you stay true to the legends that define the brand you have.


Did you guys see the two Mazda concept cars? They looked amazing!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes, both nice sleek designs. We'll talk about them in the next post :)


Subaru BRZ STI now that is fun. And the Volkswagen is really making a more and more mark to car community.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Just wish STI stopped making cars "Just for Japan"


The little Up! GTI looks AMAZING fun. Under 1000kg too!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Every manufacturer should have a sub-ton car!


Thank you Honda...now just make them, please!


That Ikeya would be Ideal for the dual Busa motor Ariel produces for the Atom 3 but with a couple of snails. That would be bonkers.

That RCF...amazing, (almost) all of it, except for that front grille. I just can't like the spindle grille on any of their models no matter how they form it. It looks like Darth Vader trying to take a shit. I just don't have a better way to state my opinion. It just ruins the rest of it for me.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

haha that made me laugh! I know what you mean though, it's still a pretty bold way to do a front end but I much prefer bold moves like these compared to overly-conservative styling like so many boring manufacturers do now. At least when you see a Lexus you know it's a Lexus. Plus I feel their design is evolving for the better, the new LS does it a bit better still... As for the Ikeya car, I don't know that 4L V10 they are developing might just do the trick.


Any news on the new bmw 8 series?


it is tragic how wrong of a turn the car building game is taking, crossovers everywhere (the evo and the eclipse), ev cars and a combination of both, this years tokyo motorshow obviously had some great creation like ones from subaru, vw, lexus etc but those ev cars i hope i never have to be forced to drive in my life. just like the majority of commentors say, car builders gotta balance out the terrible ev cars with some flagship sports cars that arent crossovers


Ikeya Formula's IF-02RDS - I almost thought it was a revised or repurposed toyota GT ONE!!


Very nicely picked! I particularly like the IF-02RDS and the up! GTI.


STi means weak now, why the hell not turbo the BRZ. We are basically paying for a dress up package rather than a real performer.


So I/K just remade the Toyota GT1? Im ok with that.


I'm still curious as to what the standing agreement between Toyota and Subaru are in terms of how far either can alter their production models. The fact that the sleepy FA20 is still kept as-is in their STI model strikes me as odd, that mill has been a sore spot for the BRZ/FRS/86 since inception. Regardless, it really only seems like Subaru is still wanting to make fun cars these days from Japan. These EV/Autonomous blinders everyone's wearing is getting real old real quick.

Although that up! GTI looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Highly doubt we'll get one in the west.


The more time goes on, the more Nissan's lineup looks like a French manufacturer's road car lineup...a bunch of eco bubble cars with maybe one Hot Hatch.