What will be the big star when the next motor show of 2017, in Tokyo, opens its doors on October 25th? Search us, but one thing for sure, there will, as always in Tokyo, be no shortage of candidates…
Below we have picked out a few potential stars for you but there are sure to be many more – new models and technology of global significance and all of it, this being Japan, interspersed with amusing little Kei cars, wacky personal mobility concepts, retro oddballs… and inevitably a new Toyota Crown still with antimacassars on the seats.
Honda’s electric EV family is taking shape, and judging from the preview drawing of the new concept, shapeliness is definitely one of its attributes. The Honda Sports EV is a compact two-door coupe with very pleasing lines.
The world premiere follows the funky little Urban EV concept from the Frankfurt show in September. That is now confirmed for production – buy it in Europe in 2019 – so fingers crossed its Sports EV brother can quickly follow it into the showrooms.
Both cars are based on a newly-developed electric vehicle platform, said by Honda to be both simple and compact. Electrified technology will now feature in every new model launched by Honda in Europe, kicking off in 2018 with the new CR-V Hybrid, the company has promised.
Mazda’s “ideal compact hatchback” looks like this (the red car) and has a diesel-type engine that runs on petrol. The latest Skyactiv technology, the new engine is set to become the world’s first petrol unit to use compression ignition rather than spark plugs.
This clever engine – Mazda is promising “dynamic performance has been dramatically refined” – will be under the bonnet of the new concept hatch that previews the next Mazda 3, not only with the new tech but also with a new design direction.
That direction is said to be embodied by Mazda’s second world premiere in Tokyo: a four-door coupe concept. Only teaser shots of both cars so far so it will be interesting to see them in the flesh to see where Kodo – Mazda’s last design language, introduced first on the CX-5 in 2012 – goes to next.
Return of the Evo? Well, yes… and no. The e-Evolution concept, Mitsubishi’s world premiere story for Tokyo 2017, is unlikely to be seen on any rally stage soon, but there’s some evidence here that Evo-style driving appeal still rules.
This Evo is all electric and very modern looking, with an aggressive wedge of coupe-like body riding high in the cod SUV way. It’s all-wheel drive with one motor up front and two behind coupled by an electronically-controlled torque-vectoring unit which Mitsubishi has dubbed Active Yaw Control.
The result aims to be a car with lots of high-torque performance, a degree of go-anywhere ability and nimble handling, aided and abetted by an artificial intelligence (AI) brain. This not only helps the driver by tailoring performance to conditions but also – it says here – critiques the driver’s abilities and offers coaching advice on how they can do better. Yes, here’s a car that apparently tells you when it thinks your oversteer technique stinks.
Production? Apart from that last bit, we can see this electric Evo working for sure, but for now the concept “indicates a direction Mitsubishi Motors can take in the near future”.
Billed as a new “fusion” genre for – you guessed – “people with active lifestyles”, the Tj is a macho-looking cross between an SUV and a… van. In what is probably a motoring first, the T stands for toolbox and the j for joy.
The joyous toolbox (only in Japan…) aims to be all the car you need: as boxy and tough as a van during the working week and then a refined SUV-type escape machine for weekend adventures. Yes, the seats fold and there’s plenty of room for bicycles and surfboards.
And the design? We had thought the Humvee look was very last century but the Tj Cruiser proves that theory wrong. Don’t expect to see it in a Toyota dealership here any time soon, though.
Electric cars can be incredibly fast but they don’t always look fast. That is changing as car companies break out the go-faster stripes in an effort to add sports appeal to battery power. Earlier in 2017 Renault came up with the Zoe E-Sport concept and now alliance partner Nissan is following suit and, quite literally, turning over a new Leaf.
Attach the word Nismo to a Nissan and expectations automatically run high, so what can we expect from the Leaf Nismo? The Leaf, even the new version unveiled earlier this year, is known for lots of things but not generally its sporty appeal, but there’s a chance this one will change that with its Nismo design makeover, revised aero for less lift, sports suspension and signature black and red Nismo cabin.
All quite exciting then… but, of course, they have to make it first. It is being shown in Tokyo as a concept only.
What they are making is a Nismo version of the, er, Serena. Remember that? It is true to say the seven-seater MPV didn’t enjoy the finest of reputations when sold in the UK in the 1990s. The new one in Tokyo has “exhilarating performance” so maybe it’s time for a comeback.