Monday, October 30, 2017

My Take on the 2017 Tokyo Auto Show




Alexander Carabitses

This is the first time that I have covered the Tokyo Auto Show (albeit from afar), and I have to say that I was initially very excited.  There was a lot of hype in the months leading up the show, with multiple sources claiming that we'd see previews of the next Nissan Z sports car, the new Toyota Supra, and the Lexus LC-F.   However, none of those vehicles actually debuted, which was extremely disappointing. None the less, there was still a lot of good stuff at the show, with just about every vehicle being a concept.

As a bit of background, I should note that neither the American or the Korean manufacturers participate at the show.  Renault, all of the PSA brands, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen all participated, but their debuts were simply Asian premiers of some Frankfurt debuts and some other stuff that we'd already seen. This means that all of the attention was on the home market brands, all of which showed a lot of great concepts.  Toyota showed about six concepts and the one world debut of a production car, all of which you can read about in the latter half of last week's post, but I've included photos of them at the end of this post as well.  Nissan also showed a pair of Nismo concepts that I covered in that post as well (again, photos are at the end).

During press days, Nissan also pulled the wraps off of the IMx Crossover Concept, an electric autonomous crossover concept that has absolutely no chance of making it to production in the near future, due to the fact that it's fully autonomous.  However, if Nissan were to place the 429 horsepower electric powertrain in a production crossover, it would make an ideal competitor to the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz.  Another electric crossover that received a lot of attention, mostly because of its name, was the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept, a vehicle that bears a portion of the iconic Evo's name, but is certainly no Mitsubishi Evo.  This point has actually disgusted a lot of enthusiasts, but I haven't had time to be disgusted by this point, as I am already disgusted by the styling.  There are many people that complain about Lexus's front end, but honestly, this is ten times worse, a that's just on the concepts.  We already know that the production vehicles feature grilles that have more chrome than a 1953 Buick Skylark.
(Image credited to Nissan)
(Image credited to Mitsubishi)


Honda showed a lot of robot-like concepts (all of which are for personal and home use), but their show star was the Honda Sports EV Concept, which is nothing more than a little electric sports car that may or may not make production alongside the Urban EV, with which it bears a striking resemblance.  It isn't often that you can call a car adorable, but in this case, I think we have an exception.  Another concept that has a fifty-fifty chance of making production is the Subaru Viziv Performance Concept.   Because the car was dubbed "the next generation sports sedan" by Subaru, many automatically began pointing to this as a preview of the next generation WRX, which we should see in a few years; I for one agree with them.  The real question is how many of the details make production. As we already know, Subaru has a history of showing good looking concepts that are followed up by some truly dreadful production renditions.  However, it appears that the brand may be getting better, as is evidenced by the new Impreza and the Ascent.  All I can say is don't count on the wheel arches being as wide on the production version as they are on the concept.
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Honda)
(Image credited to Subaru)


Some miscellaneous concept car debuts from brands that don't get any recognition for their cars in the US included the Suzuki E-Survivor concept (an-off road vehicle that looks like it was pulled straight out of a video game), a series of Daihatsu concepts, and the Yamaha Cross Hub.  Now for those who are keeping track, this is Yamaha's second concept car, and much like the first, it caters to a potential niche market.  Still, the idea of having a specialty vehicle for hauling around a motorcycle or an ATV does sound exciting.
(Image credited to Suzuki)

(Image credited to Daihatsu)
(Image credited to Yamaha)


While Toyota showed all of its reveals in advance, Lexus waited and surprised people with three reveals, two of which were commemorative editions of the GS F and RC F that are meant to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the IS F.  My response: where did these come from and why should I care?  Lexus also pulled the wraps off of a ridiculous concept car that got the exact opposite response of what the brand was looking for.  The LS+ Concept is the most embarrassing vehicle that Lexus has ever done, worse than the SC (a vehicle which Jeremy Clarkson and James May proclaimed as "the worst car in the history of the world").  First off, we don't need a concept version of a car before the current version of that particular car goes on sale (unless it's a new trim line, which this is not).  Second, although I'm not bothered by the spindle grille on Lexus's other models, I must say, I don't understand what they were thinking this time.  Why would the brand take the most hated element of its vehicles and make it three dimensional, and then have the headlamps amplify it?  And all of this for what, so that the brand could announce that it would have a level 4 autonomous system for highway use in its cars by 2020? This vehicle is a total joke from a brand that I know is capable of a lot better more and will probably prove this in the next few months.
(Image credited to Lexus)
(Image credited to Lexus)

Finally, we have Mazda, which stole the show with its two concept cars: the Vision Concept and the Kai Concept.  The former is a sports sedan concept that features sleek proportions, and a roof that resembles the Aston Martin Lagonda.  Personally speaking, this was my favorite vehicle of the show.  However, a lot of other people in the media disagree with me and prefer the Kai Concept.  This vehicle serves as a design preview for the next Mazda 3, and I must admit that it looks very good.  The redesign won't look as radical as the concept does from certain angles, but what this does show is that the redesign will be quite evolutionary, similar to what we saw out of the second generation CX-5. Another big piece of news from Mazda is that the rotary engine will return by the end of the decade as a range extender for electric vehicles.  I know that it's not what enthusiasts had in mind, but it's still something.
(Image credited to Mazda)
(Image credited to Mazda)
That covers all of the debuts from Tokyo. While the concept cars were very exciting, the show did seem a little bit light on news as a whole, but this is honestly a trend that we've seen from this show for a while now.  Very few foreign (i.e. non-Japanese) automakers can do business in the country because they can't meet Japanese emissions targets. Plus, the majority of production cars that normally debut here are Kei cars that the US will never get.  In other words, this show is about as irrelevant to the US as the Chicago Auto Show is for those living in Germany. However, the global automotive media still overs it for tradition's sake, and besides, it seems like a fun place to be.

Our next stop on the auto show calendar is SEMA, and rest assured, I plan on covering that venue with a new format that I feel is suitable for that show in particular.

Until then, thank you for reading and have a good week.

(Image credited to Nissan)
(Image credited to Nissan)


(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)

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