Much like one would walk around the Tokyo Auto Salon – i.e. in no particular order – I want to show you an initial selection of vehicles (and other items) that stood out to me over the course of last weekend.
Like most years, TAS 2022 was a mix of the expected sprinkled with just as much surprise. And that’s not even taking into account the giant Makuhari Messe car parks, which are pretty much events in themselves. Toby will be taking us on a tour of the outdoor parking lots in the coming days, but for now, let’s take a look at some of the interesting things I found inside the venue. For ease, I’ve split these into 8.5 mini-chapters.1. GRMN Yaris
Let’s begin with the GRMN Yaris, one of the most talked about cars at this year’s show.
The GRMN (Gazoo Racing tuned by “Meister of Nürburgring”) version was shown in two of the three different guises – base, Circuit and Rally – it will be available for purchase, limited to 500 cars in total. Big props to the Toyota group for going down the old school road of factory-tuned cars to make this higher-spec GR Yaris a reality.
The flat gray version seen here, of which only 50 complete cars will be sold, defines the Circuit package version which adds the equivalent of around US$10,000 on top of the base GRMN Yaris price tag, which converts to approximately US$63,750. For the extra money you get a number of upgrades, including 18-inch BBS wheels shod in Yokohama Advan A050 semi-slicks, Bilstein coilovers, GR mechanical LSDs, a beefy clutch setup, and a shorter final drive and closer gear ratios.
Outside, there’s carbon fiber for the hood, roof and swan-neck wing. You’ll find Recaro seats inside, and all three GRMN versions come with a redesigned instrument cluster.
The Rally package trades the big wheels and GR brakes for gravel-spec alternatives, and also adds rally-ready dampers and stabilizers, rally flaps, underbody protection, and a half cage with side bars. To this package, you can also add individual parts from the Circuit package as dealer options.2. Garage G-Force/Varis Time Attack GR Yaris
Sticking with the Yaris, Garage G-Force’s time attack car, as displayed on the Varis booth, deserves special mention.
Nobuteru Taniguchi worked closely with G-Force to develop the base car and push it to an impressive 58-second lap around Tsukuba Circuit last year.
What you see here is the second evolution of that car. Varis sculpted significantly wider fenders to help house a fatter wheel and tire combo, and along with that, carbon fiber front and rear diffusers to tie the whole package together.
Varis plans to sell this aero kit to the public, but only five full kits will feature the wider-gauge carbon fiber.
Now that the car’s outward appearance has been finalized, it’s up to Garage G-Force and Taniguchi to push the performance envelope even further. Will a 57-second Tsukuba lap be on the cards this year? I hope so!3. GReddy A60 Toyota Celica Supra
As Toby will show you in one of his forthcoming stories, there was a rather large kyusha component to TAS this year. In fact, I think it was bigger than ever, and with that there were some really impressive builds. This A60 Celica Supra perhaps doesn’t fall squarely into the kyusha category; it’s somewhere in between the new and the old. Regardless, it looked so cool in its rebuilt state.
Trust built this Celica Supra for one of its customers, and looking under the hood reveals a refresh of the car’s original 2.0L 1G-FE engine.
It’s simple and well executed, and the restoration goes right down to the car’s period-correct Hiro V1-R wheels.4. HKS RB26 Tuning
One booth over was HKS, who are taking their RB26 R&D very seriously.
It was really good to see that their ‘Advanced Heritage’ RB project that began last year is progressing along nicely.
Visually, the first thing that catches your eye are the ‘vertically-mounted’ turbos. Of course, they aren’t in an actual vertical layout, they’re just named as such to emphasize the fact that the exhaust manifold design has the GT-Pros sitting on a steeper inclination. This was done to create a more efficient flow of exhaust gasses from the hot side and then a pressurized intake charge flowing out towards the intercooler.
With this engine, HKS are throwing every technological advancement at the setup, so we have electronic control of the integrated wastegates and a pair of electric recirculating valves.
You will also notice each turbo has a compressor wheel speed sensor, and that the outlet pipes have an all-new design, again linked to the ‘vertical’ turbo layout. So aside from variable-vane turbos or electric turbo lag support, this is probably the most modern RB26 hot side around.
HKS are even working on a V-Cam for the exhaust in order to help achieve the goals they’ve set for this complete engine package.
That is, an RB28 capable of developing 600hp; massively strong and flat mid-range torque with instant throttle response; and – possibly the hardest ask – achieving 20km/L. The latter equates to about 47mpg, which is around two to three times better fuel consumption than most modified RBs get, and probably 10 times better than seriously-tuned setups.
A big part in achieving this will be the billet and carbon fiber twin-chamber intake manifold that optimizes charge distribution to each of the six cylinders. The mechanical 6-throttle intake that has always characterised RB26s is ditched in favor of a single electric Bosch throttle body.
The intake runners are all redesigned and machined out of billet, and feature twin 400cc/min injectors per cylinder. That is all then matched to a redesigned V-Cam system which, as we saw above, alters timing on the exhaust side now too, and everything will be managed by the brand new HKS F-Con V PRO engine management system.
It’s exciting stuff for sure, but there is still no official word from HKS on when all this might be ready for production.
It wasn’t the only RB26-oriented surprise from HKS. We might see this brand new piping kit hit the market within the year, and it’s so cool and innovative that they had to share it in its 3D-printed prototype state. Eventually, the piping, integrated AFMs and air box will all be made in HKS’s top-grade dry carbon.
Along with this intake side refresh there’s a new exhaust manifold design coming too, which will favor more efficient spool. I can’t even imagine how cool this will look in the engine bay.5. Toyota GT3 Concept
Back to Toyota we go, simply because I couldn’t keep my eyes off their GT3 Concept.
There wasn’t much information about it, aside from the fact that it bears the GT3 label and is very much a race car.
This may well be a ready-to-race package that race teams and wealthy private individuals could buy and compete in GT3 events with, but I’m more interested to know if it could be the beginning of an all-new road-going Toyota supercar…6. Nissan Fairlady Z Customized Proto
Due to Covid restrictions, the OEMs at Tokyo Auto Salon were asked to rope-off their displays and create one-way flows of traffic, complete with entry points where people could sanitise their hands and have their temperatures taken. Needless to say, with three new Zs on display, Nissan had one of the busiest booths. The half-hour wait to get in was definitely worth it too.
I guess the Z ‘Customized Proto’ is a concept car of a concept car, seeing that after 18 months of teasing it’s still not yet available to purchase.
But don’t worry, that time is coming soon – the first cars will be on sale in Japan this summer. Perhaps this 432-themed orange show car is hinting at what a Nismo version will end up looking like…
The front bumper redesign does a lot for the car, and I really like it. Strangely though, it reminds me of what Star Road does with the front bumper on their S30Z complete cars.
The rest is just black-on-orange highlights, topped off with fender flares and half-moon split tail pipes.
This was also the first time that three new Zs in three different colors have been positioned together. The yellow car is the ‘Proto Spec’ (referring to the color of the original prototype) production model that you will be able to buy in Japan this June for the equivalent of US$60,700.
Let me know in the comments what you think of it all, as well as the pricing, which of course will be lower for the other versions and different to what Nissan USA will MSRP the car for Stateside.7. Veilside A90 Toyota Supra
After a few years of silence, with a lot of people probably thinking that Veilside was no more, Yokomaku-san started showing pictures of his new A90-based project on social media late in 2021.
I was actually ready to shoot the car prior to the show, but Veilside only ended up finishing the paint the day before it was due at TAS.
I’m still planning to have a chat with the man behind some of the wildest designs to ever come out of Japan, and hopefully we can discuss his thinking behind this crazy A90 conversion, which measures a whopping 2.2m wide at the back. That number should give you some idea of just how much the guards have been pumped.
Let me know below what you’d like to ask Yokomaku…8. Anniversary Racing Factory 6-Rotor JC Mazda Cosmo
I walked past the Anniversary Racing Factory JC Mazda Cosmo a few times, wrongly assuming that it was simply an engine-less work in progress. That was simply due to the fact that its hood was closed and it rocked an off-road-like stance – especially at the front.
But later on in the day, I noticed a crowd around it.
And rightly so. The 6-rotor beast that sits in the vast engine bay has been completed but is not yet running. Anniversary Racing Factory are hoping to have it all done by May to coincide with a rotary event, so we’ll definitely need to catch up with them for a full feature around that time.8.5. Automotive University Yaris Jr.
Finally, we get to the ‘0.5’ portion of this post, the pint-sized Yaris Jr. Which actually isn’t a GR Yaris at all. This Toyota iQ (Japan’s answer to the Smart Fortwo) that has been converted to look like the 3-cylinder turbo hot hatch that everyone loves.
But it actually possesses one extra cylinder (and does away with forced induction), while rethinking weight distribution. Sitting in the back is a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R 1.4L 4-cylinder engine pumping out close to 200hp and able to rev to 11,000rpm. And check out the exhaust layout with the silencers poking straight through the sides of the car!
This crazy little car was built by students at the Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology, which goes some way to explain its quirky nature. Inside you’ll find the Kawasaki bike dash and custom shifter linkage that actuates the sequential transmission (1st up, then pull back for N, 2nd, 3rd etc.). The clutch lever meanwhile is now actuated by the third pedal.
That’s it for this post, but stay tuned for more TAS 2022 awesomeness.
Dino Dalle Carbonare