In Depth

Tokyo Motor Show 2017: all the weird and wonderful cars

From Group B-inspired sports cars to ‘friendly faced’ concepts, here are the models to watch

Tokyo Motor Show is well underway and Japanese carmakers have already debuted a host of vehicles ranging from the innovative to the downright odd. 

Last time around saw the sleek Mazda RX9 concept make its debut, hinting at a possible resurrection for the rotary engined sports-car series.

But the show also saw crazy concepts such as the Toyota Kikai, which had little in the way of bodywork, allowing onlookers to peer into its glossy engine bay. 

This year’s event, which finishes on 5 November, will be no exception. 

Here are the best models on show. 

Daihatsu DN Compagno 
Daihatsu

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One of the quirkier concepts to appear at the Tokyo Motor Show came in the form of Daihatsu’s DN Compagno. 

It’s a compact, four-door coupe with styling inspired by the company’s 1960s Compagno saloon, says Top Gear - although there’s “no nods to the past” in its futuristic cabin. The concept is equipped with a v-shaped touchscreen in the centre console that controls the vehicle’s climate system and electric seats, as well as a digital dashboard that houses the speedo and tachometer.

Although Daihatsu “has good form in turning its wild concepts into reality”, the website says, “the company’s long been gone from the UK market, and the sweet little Compagno is likely to stay in its native Japan”.

Honda Sports EV
Honda Sports EV

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Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Honda has taken the wraps off its all-electric sports car concept. The new vehicle complements the Japanese car firm’s futuristic Urban EV city car that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month.  The electric performance car is called the Sports EV and is arguably one of the “better-looking” EV concepts at the show, says Engadget. Although Honda has yet to reveal any performance figures, the site says the car comes with an onboard AI assistant that tailors the driving experience by scanning your emotions.

Honda Dream Go
Journalists try Honda's "RoboCas Concept", electric mobility during the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo on October 25, 2017.RoboCas Concept is an electric cart with autonomous drive function./ AFP

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It may not be a future production car, but Honda’s Dream Go Project certainly falls under the banner of a weird concept.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the concept is “a sort of battery-powered ice-cream stand that follows you around talking to you”. It can also be used as a portable DJing desk, a coffee stall or even “a mobile hair-dressing salon”. 

Lexus LS+ 
Lexus LS+

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Tomohiro Ohsumi

After launching a new version of its luxury LS saloon at the Detroit Motor Show in January, Lexus has set the bar even higher by revealing its futuristic LS+ Concept.

The concept details what the company’s saloon may look like in the future, says CNet, sporting an illuminated front grille and thin electronic wing mirrors. It also features a system called Highway Teammate, the site adds, which allows for “semi-autonomous” driving on motorways. 

The system is expected to reach customer cars by 2020, says CNet, although it is not known whether the LS+ concept will make production.

Mazda Vision Coupe
Mazda Vision Coupe

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Koki Nagahama/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co

Following on from 2015’s Mazda Vision-RX concept, Honda unveiled a sleek and sporty four-door concept at the show that the firm has named the Vision Coupe.

Its design is derived from the two-year-old sports car concept, although the Vision Coupe appears to be longer and features a panoramic glass roof. 

The cabin is somewhat minimalist, with only the gear shifter featuring on the wooden centre console: most of the car’s buttons and dials are instead on a thin touchscreen panel that stretches across the width of the dashboard.

You can read more about the Vision Coupe here.

Mazda Kai
TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 25:Mazda Kai Concept is displayed at the Mazda Motor Co booth during the Tokyo Motor Show at Tokyo Big Sight on October 25, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.(Photo by Koki Nagahama

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2017 Getty Images

The Kai Concept joined the company’s Vision Coupe in Tokyo, offering an early look at the next-generation of the Mazda 3, reports Digital Trends

The new hatchback’s “muscular” and “solid” design results in “a dramatically quieter, more comfortable ride” compared with the current Mazda 3, the website says. 

Under the bonnet sits the carmaker’s new SkyActiv-X petrol motor, which has “diesel engine-like torque and fuel economy”, the site says. It also has a higher rev range than a standard petrol engine and boasts “cleaner exhaust emissions”.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution  
Mitsubishi e-Evolution

While it’s named after Mitsubishi’s defunct performance saloon, the e-Evolution concept is, in fact, a preview for an upcoming mid-size electric SUV.

The e-Evolution is fitted with three electric motors, says The Verge. Two of these are mounted at the rear of the car, to help distribute power between each wheel and enable better handling in challenging road conditions. The other motor is on the front axle, meaning the SUV is an all-wheel drive. 

Sensors are used to gauge the driver’s skill, and AI is used to set the car up accordingly, the website says. 

Subaru Viziv Performance 
Subaru Viziv Performance

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Along with the announcement of a hardcore variant of its BRZ coupe and STI four-door hatchback, Subaru unveiled a sporty saloon in Tokyo called the Viziv Performance.

It has a similar design to the company’s WRX hatchback and is powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine with a symmetrical all-wheel drive system, Autocar reports. 

A host of “advanced driver-assistance systems” also feature in the car, says the magazine. Subaru plans to launch these in production models from 2020.

Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept

Nissan’s Nismo performance brand is well known for producing hardcore variants of the firm’s GT-R sports coupe, but the tuning outfit has turned its attention to the upcoming Leaf electric car for the Tokyo Motor Show. 

Along with a host of Nismo-themed visual tweaks, the tuned EV has upgraded suspension, “high-performance tyres” and a tweaked onboard computer chip that improves the response of the electric motor, Evo says. 

It’s not yet known whether the Leaf Nismo will make production, adds the magazine, but more details are expected when the concept makes its debut this week.

Suzuki e-Survivor
TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 25:Suzuki Motor Corp. e-Survivor sports utility vehicle is displayed during the Tokyo Motor Show at Tokyo Big Sight on October 25, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. The 45th editio

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Tomohiro Ohsumi

Suzuki is celebrating its 100th birthday - and the carmaker marked the anniversary by revealing an all-electric compact off-roader concept in Tokyo, reports Auto Express

The e-Survivor’s styling is heavily inspired by the firm’s iconic Jimny “mini-SUV” and features an all-electric four-wheel drive system, the magazines says. It also has “a lightweight compact body” and a removable roof section that “bares a resemblance to the mid-1990s Suzuki X-90 compact SUV”. 

Toyota GR HV Sports Concept  

Toyota unveiled another special-edition variant of its GT86 sports car, the GR HV Sports Concept, in the run-up to the motor show.  

The targa-topped sports car comes with a front-engined combustion engine paired to a hybrid unit featuring tech derived from the manufacturer’s TS050 Le Mans prototype, says Car magazine. It also sports an H-pattern manual gearbox and “a fighter jet-style ignition switch” on top of the gearstick. 

Car lovers may also notice the matte black paint scheme and vertical headlights appear to be a nod to the stillborn Toyota MR2 Group B rally prototype from the mid-1980s. 

Toyota Century 

Many will associate the premium saloon market with German car brands such as Mercedes and Audi, but Toyota has its own luxury cruiser and it’s due a refresh in Tokyo. 

Called the Century, the new four-door saloon is powered by a V8 hybrid engine and is “pretty much hand built” over the course of 30 hours - even if it is as “ugly as a barn door”, The Daily Telegraph says.

Nevertheless, each model costs 12.5m yen (£85,000), adds the paper, but it’s only expected to go on sale in Japan. 

Yamaha Cross Hub

Yamaha was tipped to bring a new concept car to Tokyo that many suspected would take the form of a small sports car based on the Sports Ride concept, which debuted at the 2015 show. However, those rumours were quickly dispelled when the Japanese firm unveiled its compact Cross Hub pickup truck. 

Despite its small proportions, the Cross Hub’s loading bay is large enough to store one of Yamaha’s off-road motorbikes, says Motor 1, and seats adults in the cabin. The seats themselves are positioned in a diamond shape, with the driver in the middle and two passengers on either side, plus another passenger behind.

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