In Review

Tokyo Motor Show 2019: Mazda MX-30, new Honda Jazz and more

Eclectic mix of new models and concepts take centre stage at the expo in Japan

As the clock ticks down until the Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors on Thursday, some carmakers are getting ahead of the crowd by unveiling their cars early. 

Japanese manufacturers are flocking to the annual expo, held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre, to unveil both new models destined for global showrooms and a handful reserved exclusively for the home market. 

Japan’s marques are also known for their wonderfully obscure concept cars, some of which may find their way into production in the near future.

The Tokyo Motor Show is open to the public from 24 October to 4 November, but a number of models have already been revealed.

Here are all the big car announcements so far, plus the cars we expect to see later this week:

Honda Jazz (Fit)
Honda Jazz Exterior

Honda Jazz Exterior

Honda kicked off proceedings in Japan by unveiling an all-new version of its entry-level Jazz.

The hatchback, also known as the Fit in the US and parts of Asia, is a radically overhauled version of the model currently on sale, with an all-new design and a hi-tech cabin with a digital instrument cluster. 

And in a first for the Jazz, the new car will be powered exclusively by hybrid engines, Car magazine reports. Honda has yet to reveal performance specs for the hybrid system, but has confirmed that the powertrain will feature two electric motors. 

The next-generation Jazz will go on sale in mid-2020 alongside a Crosstar crossover variant, the magazine says.

Lexus LF-30 concept

Lexus is no stranger to the world of crazy concept cars. Unlike many of its rivals, the manufacturer often translates the designs of its concepts for use in its production models - and that’s exactly what it intends to do with its new LF-30.

The concept car previews “all sorts of far-out ideas” that could make their way onto the company’s future electric vehicles, says The Verge

The LF-30’s feature list includes an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can recognise the voices of different occupants, which is used to automatically alter the climate control and driver settings. There’s also “steer-by-wire” technology - where the steering wheel isn’t physically connected to the front axle, allowing the wheel to be tucked away when the car is running in autonomous modes. 

Although the LC-30 won’t hit the showrooms, elements of its design and features are expected to appear in the marque’s first all-electric production car, which is due to arrive next year, says Auto Express.

Mazda MX-30

Mazda had managed to keep its MX-30 electric SUV under wraps in the run-up to the Tokyo motoring expo, but a Japanese car magazine leaked an image of the car hours before its unveiling. Now that the car has made its official debut, it’s clear that this is no conventional crossover. 

The MX-30 gets distinctive thin rear doors that hinge at the back, as well as a sloping roofline for a more coupe-esque silhouette. It won’t be silent like other EVs, either, as Mazda has engineered “an artificial sound” to imitate the noises of a combustion engine, according to Autocar

Under the MX-30’s skin is a 35.5kWh battery that delivers 130 miles of range and is connected to a single electric motor producing 141bhp and 195lb-ft of torque. 

The unusual new model is due to launch in Japan next year, before sales open in the UK in 2021.

Mitsubishi Mi-Tech concept

“Mitsubishi’s sharply styled concepts always bring a futuristic edge to auto shows,” says CNet’s Roadshow, and the new Mi-Tech looks like being no exception.

Previewed in a shadowy teaser image ahead of its world debut later this week, the Mi-Tech is described by the motoring site as a “dune buggy for two” that sports “pronounced fender flares and an open roof to take in the surrounding air”.

The concept is powered by an unconventional plug-in hybrid system. The powertrain consists of four electric motors, which are connected to a “gas-fuelled turbine” that’s used to generate electricity, says Motor1. Traditional hybrids, meanwhile, use electric energy to improve the efficiency of a combustion motor. 

Mitsubishi has not yet announced whether the Mi-Tech will make its way into production.

Subaru WRX STI EJ20 Final Edition

Sabaru is paying tribute to the outgoing EJ20 four-cylinder boxer engine that powers its range of WRX STI sports saloons by launching a special-edition model.

“The manufacturer hasn't tampered with the popular recipe for this limited-edition STI,” says PistonHeads. “It’s painted blue, the wheels are gold and the rear wing is large.”

Performance details have yet to be revealed, but Subaru says that the motor is a “balanced” version of the EJ20. In addition, Final Edition badges will be dotted across the vehicle and the wheels are from BBS, according to the carmaker. 

Unfortunately for Subaru fans in the UK, the EJ20 will only be available to buyers in Japan.

Suzuki Waku SPO concept

While rivals are unveiling futuristic concepts of mobility, Suzuki has looked to the past for inspiration for its new Waku SPO concept. 

The two-door model’s boxy design and rounded headlights reference classic Japanese cars from the 1970s and early 1980s, as does the wood-panelled dashboard. 

However, the concept is powered by a not-so-retro plug-in hybrid system, while the bodywork and interior can be changed with ease to meet the needs of different drivers, Autocar reports.

Toyota Mirai Concept
Toyota Mirai

Toyota

Many carmakers are looking at battery-electric systems to power their future models, but Toyota is banking on hydrogen powertrains as the future of clean motoring. 

The marque’s second-generation Mirai, which has debuted in concept form in Tokyo, is powered by a fuel cell system that converts hydrogen into electrical energy. This system offers a 30% improvement in range over the first-generation model, courtesy of a larger hydrogen tank, meaning drivers should get up to 440 miles between filling stations, says Auto Express

The interior has also been given an upmarket overhaul, with leather seats, wireless phone charging and a 12.3in infotainment system. And thanks to the updated hydrogen storage system, the new Mirai will be able to carry five occupants rather than its predecessor’s four.

Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ 2020

Hot on the heels of the company’s all-new GR Supra sports coupe, which hit showrooms earlier this year, Toyota will reveal its revamped entry-level GT86 performance car at the Tokyo Motor Show. 

Evo reports that the new model will retains its rear-wheel drive chassis, while “probably maintaining a similar footprint and performance output” to the current-generation model “so as not to get too close” to the Supra.

If the GT86 were to match the old model’s power output, the 2020 model would deliver around 200bhp - which is good for a zero to 62mph time of just over 7.5 seconds.

Given that the Subaru BRZ is identical to the GT86 in almost every aspect, bar its name and a few visual tweaks, expect a reworked version to be unveiled next week as well.

Toyota ultra-compact BEV

Mazda won’t be the only carmaker launching a production-ready EV in Tokyo this week as Toyota will be showcasing its new ultra-compact battery electric vehicle (BEV). 

 As the name suggests, the Toyota takes the form of a small two-seater electric vehicle “designed to meet the needs of people who regularly make short-distance trips”, notes Auto Express.

The BEV is capable of travelling 62 miles on a single charge and has a maximum speed of just 37mph, the magazine says, so it’s better suited as an inner-city runabout than a motorway cruiser. 

Despite its small yet futuristic design, the BEV is no concept car. Toyota plans to open sales in late 2020, though it will be available only in Japan.

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