The 3 Most Important Cars Of TAS 2020

There were plenty of standout cars at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, but of all those on display at the Makuhari Messe over the past few days, three really stood out to me – and they were all from Japanese vehicle manufacturers.

Toyota GR Yaris

Forget the Supra. That’s arrived and people have already started playing around with them, which is great, no, actually awesome, but Toyota is not done. Far from it, it seems.

Akio Toyoda went ahead and used a domestic aftermarket tuning show for the global unveil of the GR Yaris homologation special. High fives, high tens, and fist bumps all round to Toyota – the most exciting Japanese manufacturer right now.

Toyota’s Tokyo Auto Salon booth was impressive. It used motorsports and classics to show that what it’s doing has roots and a link to legends of the past. Better still, it was cohesively laid out for the fans to see, understand, and most importantly of all, enjoy.


While the Supra was the main car of the show this year – something you’ll see with the A90-specific post we’re putting together – the talk of the TAS 2020 was the GR (Gazoo Racing) Yaris. You can see it here, center-stage next to a ST165 Celica brought along to support the ‘GT-Four to GR-Four’ message coined for the all-new hot hatch.


Offered only in right-hand drive, the order book was opened at TAS with the basic model costing just under 4 million yen. That gets you the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine developing 268hp and 370Nm of torque thanks in part to a twin-scroll turbocharger, plus all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual gearbox, all wrapped up in an aggressive little exterior with pumped fenders. It’s totally reminiscent of the good old Group B days.


The car is available in Japan in a ‘1st Edition’ guise until the end of June this year, in two versions – the base RZ, and the RZ High Performance which comes fitted with more track-focused upgrades.


That includes an intercooler water sprayer, and a pair of Torsen helical LSDs front and rear to make the most of the 4WD system. An electrically-controlled center diff then allows the driver to split the torque in three ways: Normal (60 front/40 rear), Sport (30 front/70 rear) and Track for a 50/50 bias.

Along with the GR Yaris street car reveal, Toyota also showed a Rally Car Concept, along with a CVT Concept which as the name suggests employs a CVT transmission. If you’re wondering why a CVT, well, so am I. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what it’s all about.

Honda Access EK9 Civic 2020

The second showstopper for me was the EK9 Civic Type R on display at the Honda Modulo booth. This car was put together in three months by Honda Access designers and engineers in their mid-20s, highlighting that love for the older models that exists in all of us.


We are all aware of how popular restomodding has become in recent years, with so many outfits taking legends of the past and giving them a modern spin. However, to see a manufacturer-owned company do it is a whole other thing; it gives a feel of authenticity, and the end is result is that much more special.


The feel of quality that OEM concepts always have is instantly visible, starting with the bright headlight conversion which employs a perimeter design to bring the iconic EK9 headlights right up to date.


Shod in Yokohama A052 215/40R17 tires, the Civic 2020 wheels feature a twisted futuristic 5-spoke design.


The cabin has been kept very simple with a pair of black Recaro sports seats, but your eyes will be instantly drawn to the modern instrumentation in the binnacle, and the backlit Civic 2020 center console.


The body has smoothed details around the front and rear bumpers, and the entire thing is painted in a metallic silver with what looked like many coats of clear for that extra-shiny concept car look.


The rear lights get the same perimeter effect as the headlights, and since we are in 2020 the center Civic naming could have only been backlit. The drilled-out treatment on the rear diffuser mimics the front grille for a touch of continuity, front to rear.

As for the engine? I’m sure you all want to know about that, but let’s just call this an aesthetic study, the result of pure passion expressed in an official kind of way.

This is exactly what manufacturers should start doing. Imagine if Nismo took this approach to restomodding the BNR32, BCNR33 and BNR34 Skyline GT-R; refining their bodywork with modern touches, re-engineering the lights and instrumentation, and going a tad wilder with the engine and driveline. I need a box of tissues just thinking about this stuff.

Nissan Skyline 400R Sprint Concept

Moving to the Nissan stand – their most well laid-out and interesting TAS display in recent years – we find a one-off concept of the Japan-only 400R version of the current Skyline.


What makes this car special is the fact that after years of using NA and hybrid engines (the 2.0-liter turbo Mercedes-Benz engine used by the Skyline for a short time is best forgotten), we finally find another proper Nissan turbocharged motor under the hood of a Skyline…


Something the NACA ducts borrowed from the R35 GT-R may hint at.

However there’s no VR38DETT under there, but rather the direct injected VR30DDTT, which has finally arrived in Japan and proven to be a runaway success with buyers of this new updated version of the Skyline sedan.


The US has been enjoying this engine – in both 300hp and 400hp guises – for a few years in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60, but Japan was left without a boosted Skyline until now. This means tuners can finally start playing around with it before it’s dropped into other future Nissans, the most obvious of candidates being the next generation of the Z perhaps.

The Sprint Concept also brings other hope; the possibility of Nissan starting to develop a really hot version of the Skyline 400R, hinting at a potential range of parts that could come with a Nismo version.


This is of course all speculation, but the fact remains: the base Skyline now has decent turbo motor that enthusiasts seem to be loving.


Japan may well be climbing back up the performance car ladder in the coming decade, while producing many more EVs I’m sure. It’s good to see that not all hope is lost for enthusiasts.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Awaiting people to complain about why Toyota can do the GR Yaris on their own but can't do the same with the A90. LOL!

It would be nice to see the Nissan VR30 be put under the hood of the next-gen Z car. Then we can go full circle and have the 300ZX again!


Becase it's freaking yaris, which they also sold in normal guise, they can justify making performance version of already available (which is mixed from their normal cars platform) architecture. Its just make sense in financial term because they can boost yaris name image and hope boost the sales of normal yaris. Unlike the supra which is compact 2 door coupe with platform that unlikely used in models that have high volume sales.


lol yeah i hope that vr30 is in the next Z it's been lacking a power boost over the years but i'm not sure how i feel about another 300Z or will it be 300ZX? or will they go with he power rating and call it 400Z? but either z and i'll be happy

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yaris is indeed a car they already had so not comparable to the A90. The VR30 will be ace if it ends up in the next Z. It's going to feed enthusiasts and tuners for years to come and then when it's all gone EV we can use those cars as cheap drift cars lol


companies like Z1 Motorsports in the US have been playing around with the Q60 platform in the US so if the new Z uses that motor it won't be long before theres a sprawling aftermarket for it

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I can't wait! Will check Z1 out


Nice feuture! Love the idea of refining the cars from the past.

And love the story writing ;) "I need a box of tissues just thinking about this stuff"

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Sebastian. 2020 is an exciting year for Japan, so nice to see it become more relevant.


Curious to see the Gr4 on continental Europe. With all those "eco-friendly" politics coming in Belgium, that could be the last fun car I'll buy...


You live in Belgium too? Do you expect this country to outright ban old cars?


After 2023 In wallonia (the french parts for those who don't know), older cars (before "euro 4" ) will be limited to 3000km/year.
But it's not clear yet if that 3000km limit will be for all cars or only available for "old timers" (>30 years).
Even if it applied to all cars, 3000 is not a lot. For example, I wish to go to" Magny cours classique" this year and only with that it's a little it's already 1000km+ gone.
For those who like doing road trips with their "older" cars, that limit is insane ...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Wasn't aware of this sort of restrictions. Pretty gay if you ask me, they should try to address the real polluters like industries, mass transportation etc. Shit, how about damn planes, running on crappy kerosene and polluting the hell out of our skies. But as usual it's the little people that have to suffer and the auto industry gets stung the most.


Yep. Lorries, boats and alike transports goods and participate to economical life.
Automobile for individual users had less or no impact so this is the easier to restrain (not the more efficient we agree on that).
As we discussed with another car enthusiast friend recently , the fun aspect of automobile will progressivly disappear (at least the "affordable" part of it ).

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They are all steering it towards car becoming appliances. Sad but true.


Exactly what they said in a french TV car show that visit CES in Los Angeles :
"Cars will not be things that you drive anymore, it'll become a living space".
Personally, I don't mind that transformation for daily commute to work (I'm already a daily train user for that) but damn for the rest of my activities it feels like I lose freedom with such a change :(


"Using gay as a derogatory term is simply just not acceptable. I mean, this is 2014, right?" -Paddy McGrath

Dino Dalle Carbonare

My apologies. Put me behind a keyboard and my inner 12 year old comes out. Of course Paddy is right here :)


That EK9 need a feature ASAP!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Shall we let them figure out what to do with the engine first? lol


We can Flintstone it ;)

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Nissan is giving the people what they want with the VR30. Loving the look of that Civic. But while the Yaris is all good but Toyota can't turbocharge the 86? Nope. A Supra with its own engine? Nope. Lower models getting modded and high end Lexus vehicles getting good treatment but can't build an inline 6 on their own or turbocharge an existing engine for those cars in the middle..............hmmmmmmmmm I will never understand it.


Again this 86 talk? Jesus let go already.


They're different in market targets, gr yaris is homologation cars for wrc racing. That's why supra exist for turbo rwd platform. Or maybe turboing 86 will jack the price up too much (you cant just slap a turbo and calling it a day, supporting components must be upgraded too)


lol fear not, turbo 86 is looking to be on the horizon, new Toyota platform but another boxer engine (i forget what car its from) and rumoured to be about 255hp...i have no defence on the lack of 3jz...the b58/bmw thing made sense to me till they launched the GR yaris

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Now how about that 3-cylinder in the next 86!?


lol that'd really piss people off...but i can't help but think from a balanse perspective it'd be alright....oh but what about the height? or would it be canted to keep the hood line low? so many possibilities haha

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I'm of the opinion that the next 86 is getting the 2L engine from the Supra. I know it's BMW sourced but it just makes so much sense. Then the BRZ version can continue using the FA20


That sucks that the GR Yaris will only be offered in RHD.


Strange because, there are already pictures of left hand drive interior available.
May be the first batch will be RHD only ??


To be honest, I haven't seen anything great from Infiniti other than the Q50 and Q60
Hopefully, the 400R brings a performance lineup that could make a comeback for Infiniti


Not sure what the JDM 400R really gets you that the Q50 400 Red Sport doesn't already have other than some body modifications.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Pretty simple... it's finally sold in Japan


I seriously love the GR Yaris
It has already become my dream car and I want to drive it so badly
Hopefully, Toyota is able bring it to America

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I soooo want this car!


The three cylinder turbo, all wheel drive combo is too cool!!


completely agree! Just waiting on the pricing structure for the UK at this point.. who knows what mark up will be added!


I've never bought, or even wanted, a brand new car before. But I've registered my interest with Toyota and I'm ready to pounce! Hopefully it's closer to 30k than 40


I am in exactly the same position as you. Always dis-regarded the idea of buying new, i am too sensible.. until now apparently!
I am hoping the full fat version will be no more than £35k, but we shall see. Maybe a used one a year down the line might be better!


As much as I love the Supra builds of TAS 2020, the Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020 Concept owns the stage
It is like one of the coolest concept cars ever made and this is like the future of the tuning scene
Honda needs to make this as a limited edition model or at least sell the parts for this Civic

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well said. It is indeed the future of tuning or at least how I'd like tuning to evolve.


I may well be forced to steal that Skyline paint job.............


The Yaris is the most (only) exciting new car of 2020. For where I live, in the Peak District it looks like it could be the perfect car.

44 MP3 Skyline 400R - seems to have my name on it :)
Nice work as always Dino !

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man!

Brennan McKissick

The NA market gets the shaft again with the GR Yaris. I'm sure it wouldn't sell near as well here but I for one would be stoked to see them here. I always kinda liked the Yaris in a "that could be a fun daily" kind of way. This takes that to the next level. And the Skyline sedan? Ugh, please bring that to the US Nissan.


Grab an Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, change the front bumper and the rear lights, and you're already there with the Skyline sedan. You've had the 3.0 twin turbo six for a few years already, so this time, the US market got in before anyone else!

Brennan McKissick

Wow, you're absolutely right. I didn't even realize that at first.


I don't think it'll take long before those parts are available given how much aftermarket support the Q50/60 has in the US. I was even more surprised to hear a while back that the Japanese market didn't get the Q60 coupe at all - it was only for America, Europe and (until recently) Australia. Sucks to hear that you guys won't be getting the GR Yaris, but in Australia we also get shafted for quite a few cars that are only made in left-hand drive, so you win some, you lose some, I guess.


Is the wrc yaris 3 cyl too?


No, but the junior wrc category (wrc2 or 3, i cant remember which), are mandated to run 3 cylinders from this year. So this engine has apparently been developed for that series, so it still has some motorsport pedigree!


Want that Yaris bad!!! Really bad!!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Join the club!


The 21st Century was so much better in late 80s sci fi anime than in the real world.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Haha so true! We've been shafted. Who do we blame though?


The insurance industry's got their fingerprints on some of it...


The US has been enjoying this engine – in both 300hp and 400hp guises – for a few years in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60

So has Australia. How could Japan miss out on this engine? They should've got it when it came out!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Because Japan is the last market manufacturers are interested in. Everyone wants vans here. I swear a mass testicle-cutting session was held in Japan and every male lost his passion for cars...


Nissan Skyline 400R Sprint is bringing hope.. Men kan den börna?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Can't wait to see these Skyline sedans pump out 600 HP


Couldnt agree more, it seems like a very potent motor. Was looking at swapping the VR30DDTT into my M35 Stagea w/R35 GTR front conversion and wb kit but engine stays VQ25DET for now since im probably selling the car in a few months.


That GR Yaris is the first time I've ever been excited about a new car release

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I can't stop thinking about it!


Hopefully they give us a turn with it in Gran Turismo before launch

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Don't they always!


I heard it was an altercation at TAS and a group is banned. Is this true?


There was a fracas between Liberty Walk and Morohoshi-san's group, seemingly over noise from what I could see on the video.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I don't know if anyone is banned but it was between the Boom Craft guy and the Liberty Walk guys, and Kato joined to argue at the end. Basically he started revving the shit out of his Aventador and LBW guys told him to stop it as they'd all get in trouble and risk not getting space at the show next year. He didn't and kept at it and it all escalated from there. Morohoshi had nothing to do with it, his car was in the same general area. I don't think we'll see Boom Craft at the event next year.