Be sure to 'click' on the thumbnail photos to see them in their full-size, and with their complete captions!
Let's open up this 40th Tokyo Motor Show Photo Album with one of the wildest concepts at this year's show. Suzuki displayed their Pixy and SSC concepts, and while there are more photos of these two below, this is how they actually "connect" with one another. Enjoy the one-person Pixy, but when it's time to get on the open highway or take a friend or two along for the ride, drive the Pixy right into the SSC "mothership" and head for the hills! And believe us ... this was not the most exotic concept at the show.
Please have your 1,300 yen ready ... 600 for kids; all of whch translates into about $10USD for adults and about $5USD for the kids. But for two days before the show officially opens to the public, some 2,000 media from around the world have "total access" to the show, the exhibits (some of them three-stories tall and with their own kitchens, chefs and lounges, the better to entertain the media and get "their" story across) and all the executives you can find who either speak English or have a translator handy and standing-by (expect that from the big companies, not so much from the smaller ones).
The sort-of "Socialist"-appearing work-of-art behind the gentlemen reads, "Since 1954", and the Tokyo Motor Show was celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2007 ... Which works out somehow mathematically because the show is held only once every two years. The two guys in the foreground could not work for Toyota, as they are not wearing that company's standard-issue black suit; they actually look a bit "far-out" by Japan business standards. But there is a huge amount of media coverage of the show gets in its home country. This is the only big auto show in Japan ... People come from all over the nation to see it; there are extra trains put on the tracks and special bus lines open only during the show's running. You have to be there to understand and feel the excitement. Don't believe those websites which say this year's show was "dull" and "all the cars had been seen before"; those people just don't like cars, we guess.
The whole nation is caught-up in the show's energy. After all, the country's major export and the primary driver of its economy, on a world scale, is its auto industry, both inside and outside of Japan. There are Japanese-owned factories all over the world, and while they are good for select local economies, the profits always, ultimately, wind-up in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, or whatever industrial center of this amazing nation a particular car-making corporation calls home.
Audi surprised most of the journos on-hand (especially those from the US and Asia; Euro journos were already hip to the car) with this MetroProject quattro concept. Audi's infamous "quattro" all-wheel-drive configuration is combined with their excellent TSI turbocharged and supercharged engine powering the front wheels along with an electric motor at the rear. A lithium ion battery pack powers the 41 horsepower electric motor in the rear. Many commuters could perform their daily drive without ever needing to run the gasoline engine, but if they do, Audi claims they could be rewarded with somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 miles per gallon.
Beauty may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, and this Audi MetroProject might have a rear-end, at least, which only a mother could love. But as with all concepts, the production car which might someday be built with this design in mind, will probably be closely-related to this car's styling, but won't be any kind of an exact copy. And that's a good thing; Audi remains one of the companies which still spends money on "true" concepts; that is, fun cars for their exhibit stand which really make the public think about just what the company is "up to".
Audi's new "city car" looks better in person than in photos, with its imposing grille and sleek yet muscular lines. LED headlights, aluminum roof arches and those stunning rear lights make a good combination, and we might see them all on three different cars ... but on one, it's a bit of overkill. Audi has developed a hybrid drivetrain for the metroproject. A TSI (turbocharger + supercharger) engine drives the front wheels, while the electric motor sends all of its juice to the rear. An electronic device embedded in its dash is Audi's version of an iPhone. The combination of a turbocharger and supercharger on one engine is an idea which has been around for a long, long time, but not in consumer cars. It's common in the big rig diesel-powered trucks which cross the US and need all the high-end power, low-end torque, engine and systems reliability, lowest-possible emissions and the best possible fuel mileage.
Audi describes their gorgeous, new S5 as "a sports tune model of the new Audi S5, and a top athlete model in its class". The car combines Audi's V8 FSI gasoline direct injection engine and their quattro permanent 4WD system. Audi turns a neat Japan-style hyperbolic phrase with this: "S5 becomes a truly unique presence in the high-performance coupe genre". In the words of Howard Johnson in the movie "Blazing Saddles", "Now, who can argue with that?".
Audi says their S5's "8-cylinder engine generates terrific power and is combined with a sports suspension and high-perofmrance brakes that have been dynamically tuned to match the performance of the engine". While the S6 sedan features Audi's 5.2-liter V10, this S5 makes do with Audi's 4.2-liter FSI V8. This engine delivers 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Audi says S5 has a 0-to-62-mph time (100 kilometers per hour) of 5.1 seconds, about a second faster than the standard A5. And that ain't hay. S5 comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission. The quattro system delivers 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels. And like the A5 upon which it's based, the S5 has its engine located slightly forward in the chassis to improve handling. The suspension has also been tightened up; upgraded brakes get neat-looking black-painted calipers. Standard 18-inch wheels are shod in 240/40R18 tires. S5 gets subtle exterior changes ranging from obvious upgrades like silver side mirrors, chrome-accented grille work and quad exhaust tips, and then almost-invisible tweaks like the body-colored door sills and the cross-hatched air inlets in place of the standard model's honeycomb design. Now, that's the kind of Teutonic attention-to-detail which makes German cars the tight, sporting and fun-to-drive vehicles they are, and have been for decades, from VW right on up to Porsche and (dare we say it?) Maybach. Perhaps in another year or so this car will get the V10 engine which it deserves, especially with that "S" designation at the start of its name.
Interior upgrades consist of the usual combination of sport seats, a sport steering wheel and gray-faced gauges. And like the A5, the S5 will offer a long list of customizable trim. Instead of your usual bird's eye maple and sandy oak, however, the S5 will offer choices like aluminum, stainless steel or carbon fiber. Or at least something that looks like carbon fiber.
Look for the 2008 Audi S5 in dealerships this fall right alongside the standard A5.
This is a "ghost-view" of the V8 in Audi's S5 coupe; one impressive thing about the truly international and big-bucks auto shows are these kind of fun-to-look-at and fun-to-learn-from exhibits. The S5 uses Audi's 4.2-liter FSI V8. This engine delivers 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, but the V8 in the Mercedes-Benz CLK550 puts out 382 hp while the AMG version tops them all at 500 horses. According to Audi, the S5 is still good for a 0-to-62-mph time of 5.1 seconds, about a second faster than the standard A5. Is Audi getting a little too liberal in their use of their important "S" designation?
Nope, we paid for this one. Here's a snapshot of Phil Werber, director of Sandy Corporation's west coast office, and me, enjoying a noon-time meal in the cafeteria in the Makuhari Messe Convention Center. If you don't know what "Sandy Corp." is, don't worry. If you do know, then you should have been in Tokyo joining us for lunch!
The Parkers and the Werbers enjoying the 40th Tokyo Motor Show ... Hey, a few of these shots give the photo album a more human dimension, don't you think? That's, from the left, me and Carey Parker, Irene and Phil Werber. The Werbers went on to China from Tokyo, and have yet to be heard from ... NOT! But they did go to China ...
This is Ferrari's 60th anniversary year, and the company brought three cars to the Tokyo show. Ferrari is hotter than ever in Asia, not only due to the growing Japanese marketplace, but also the phenomenal growth of a brand-new market, potentially the largest in the world, China, where the company has already opened several dealerships.
The "F430 Scuderia", the "612 Scaglietti Enhanced" and the Ferrari "599" drew big, adoring crowds during the show. "Scuderia" is the Italian term for "stables" and goes back to the days when "horsepower" meant real, actual horsepower ... and their jockeys, atop and on-board.
Top features of the Ferrari cars shown at Tokyo: The "430 Scuderia", says Ferrari, "is a high-performance 2-seat Berlinetta, based on the F430 and developed specifically with the sporties clients in mind." Ferrari also says, "The car introduces F1-derived features for the first time on any car, including the "F1 SuperFast2" gearbox and the "E-Diff2" system, both seen in cars sold in Asia for the first time. The "612 Scaglietti" is Ferrari's four-seater, and introduces an all-new BOSE in-dash audio and electronics system called "infotelematic System". The company's "599" is the fastest model of any production Ferrari. Ferrari also exhibited a baton from the "Ferrari 60 Rally", which was used in celebration of Ferrari's 60th anniversary.
Almost as sought-after as Ferrari in Asia, Maserati is one of the few "magic" names in cars where quality is not even a question ... at least in the 21st century, it shouldn't be. Known as the "poor man's Ferrari" even though no poor man every bought one, Maserati's new coupe is blatantly gorgeous and undeniably sexy. Maserati's press material reads: "In the 1950s, the track-inspired engineering of a two-liter Maserati A6G was given an aerodynamic Coupe body by the legendary Carrozzeria Frua. The resulting car was called the GranTurismo. Maserati has revived that name for this version of the Coupe, which, they say, "was inspired by the fiery Trident model that competes in the Trofeo Maserati and a host of GT Championships right across Europe."
Maserati is the "yin" to Ferrari's "yang", and the Japanese motoring press and public seem to respect both makes as the "ultimate" in road-going cars, and they're probably right. A Maserati Coupe carries with it a tremendous amount of history and cachet, the kind of things which collectors look for when making their large investments in collectible motorcars. You can bet that more than a few of these cars will, unfortunately, be driven lightly and put on blocks in many a collectors' air conditioned/heated garage, waiting for the day when "the price is right" to sell it to another generation of investor ... We, on the other hand, hope all the cars get driven, and driven hard, by owners capable of getting the most out of them. There are other types of "enjoyment" apart from keeping a collectible secreted away in some storage facility and trying to see the vehicle's value appreciate ...
Maserati's press material points out that, "Adorable models are exhibited around this symbolic objet d'art", when discussing their new Quattroporte (four-door). No argument there, but this is one of the few cars where photogrpahers, after having gotten the obligatory shot of the girl with the car, actually motioned the girls to "move aside", as the car is at least as attractive as any model in a mini-skirt ... at least after awhile.
Biggest news on the company's four-door (aside from its price) is the introduction of an all-new six-speed automatic transmission ... Maserati knows their buyers, and not just a few of them are clearly getting to "that age" where they might find the comfort and ease of an automatic just the thing which can push them "over the cliff" to make the purchase.
Besides the all-new six-speed transmission offered in the company's four-door (Quattroporte --- Four-doors, get it?), Maserati buyers also have another new choice --- The "Quattroporte Sport GT Duo Select" transmission, allowing shifting of the automatic similar to a stick, if the driver so desires. And at these prices, the car had better deliver on every desire of the driver, and surirpse him or her with even more. The Maserati Trident, found on the front grill of today's cars, is a stylized version of the trident found on the massive fountain/statue of Neptune by Flemish sculptor Giovanni Da Bologna. The statue is a well know symbol of Bologna, the city where the Maserati brothers founded their eponymous company, and the Maserati brother that designed the logo sought to honor the city (and help themselves) by using a famous and popular Icon of Bologna.
While there is a large show in Tokyo every year focusing exclusively on the automotive aftermarket and the latest doo-dads and gadgets, most of them aimed at younger drivers, the Tokyo Motor Show concentrates on new production models, concepts and prototypes from the OEMs (the car-makers themselves). At the Tokyo Motor Show, the aftermarket companies can be found along the inside of the exhibition's outer walls, and there's plenty to see. Many, if not most, of the exhibitors are electronics companies which make GPS systems, audio upgrades, in-car DVD screens and computer games, but there's very, very little in the manner of performance add-ons, such as one would find at the SEMA Show. Changes to a car's engine and throughout the drivetrain which might be considered minor in the US are strictly forbidden in Japan. At the aftermarket exhibit pictured, I still can't figure out what product the model is pitching ...
Here's an exhibit from Yazaki, a company which sells their products directly to the car comapnies, and not to the public, as far as we know. Yet they have an exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show. This is much in the same way a company such as Johnson Controls, an American-based company which makes a lot of the parts in most peoples' cars, but doesn't sell them directly to the public, might have an exhibit at the Los Angeles or Detroit car shows to familiarize the general public with their products.
One thing we noticed at this show, as far as the aftermarket exhibits were concerned, is that members of the public are invited to "test drive" a lot of the products, especially those products which have to do with navigation, computer games you can play in the car and new systems which send and deliver (and read out loud for you) e-mail and access the Internet and much, much more. The more the general public can "road test" a new product and become comfortable with it means the product (and the company which makes it) might be able to build-up some good public relations with exhibits like these.
To say the Mini Clubman model was a popular attraction at Tokyo would be like saying Boston baseball fans were slightly exicted about winning the World Series ... again. Here, for once, is a car which fits neatly in the Japanese scheme of things, an imported car with great credentials (made by BMW!) which doesn't take up much more space (or use much more fuel, if any more at all) than some of the most popular cars made in Japan for their home market. Mini's Clubman might seem ridiculous to people in the US, who buy a station wagon or minivan specifically for the extra interior space it offers; the Japanese see it as a different take, and from a well-respected European manufacturer, on a type of vehicle which has been popular for decades in Japan. There was another model on display which we may not see in the US for a few years yet ... That is, a Mini powered by a diesel engine.
Both the Mini Clubman "shooting brake" and the Cooper S models were introduced to Japan at the Tokyo Motor Show. The S and Cooper Works kit includes some specific colors, exterior and inside, as well as special badging inside and out, and increased horeposwer and torque over the standard Mini with its 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine. Both Minis drew a huge response from the crowds of Japanese journalists who wanted to be "first" with the story ...
Mitsubishi is a company which is much better-known in Japan as a car company than it has ever gotten credit for in the US. Admittedly, not all of the attention shown towards the company has been of the positive sort; a few years ago, a scandal erupted in the company when the government accused executives with Mitsubishi's large truck division with hiding from authorities testing which showed the vehicles had some safety problems, and apparently some people were injured and/or killed through this negligence. Since then, the company has been on a campaign which one might call "Please Like Us", as they try to re-establish themselves in the good graces of the Japanese public. This i MIEV Sport concept, says the company, "maximizes the possibilities of a zero-emissions electric vehicle". The car, says the company, "makes for an exhilarating drive that delivers superior environmental performance." And it's darn cute, too (there's that "cute" word again). Maybe this is what the VW Beetle would have looked like had it been designed in the 21st century.
One of the most-anticipated cars at Tokyo was this, the latest version of Mitsubishi's Lancer, with enough bells and whistles and "surface excitement" to scare a Formula 1 engineer screaming back to the wind tunnel.
"Super - All Wheel Control", or "S-AWC" is on this Evo X, and Mitsubishi says "it is an original 4WD technology-based vehicle kinetic integration control system". Whew, that's a mouthful! The Japanese industry does not differentiate in their descriptive terms between all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) as we do in the US.
While much of the talk at the show was naturally all about the all-new GT-R from Nissan, which is going to be sold in the US for the first time (legally, that is) later in 2008 as a 2009 model, this car generated its own share of excitement. Mitsubishi may not have the public relations and marketing muscle which Nissan has in the US, but anyone who overlooked this next-generation model of the Lancer Evolution definitely missed one of the stars of the show.
Apparently, the famous Tokyo show-stand girls are told to "hit their marks" as soon as they see anyone with a camera having the nerve to take a picture of "their" car ... No other way to explain this strange exercise which many photogs engaged in --- Taking that one or two obligatory shots of the car with the girls, then trying to get a clean shot of the vehicle sans ladies ... Nothing wrong with the girl in the shot, but it's nice to have the option ...
In the foreground is a diesel-powered concept from Mitsubishi called the Concept-ZT; under the hood there's newly-developed 2.2 liter efficient, clean diesel engine. A new twin-clutch SST (Sport Shift Transmission) is also part of the package, along with active and passive safety items, such as its "pop-up hood", engineered to help end injuries to pedestrians hit in front-end collissions, a problem which seems to be somewhat common in normally slow-speed Japan. In the background, the i MIEV SPORT concept, an all-electric vehicle which, says Mitsubishi, "delivers superior environmental performance". Still looks like the VW Bug of the 21st century, at least to us.
One of the largest companies in the world, as well as Japan, Mitsubishi's car and light truck divisions create vehicles which are quite popular in their home market, but have never quite caught-on here in the US. Maybe it's because Mitsubishi's dealer advertising always seems to be yelling about "the deal of the month", and they don't tell US consumers enough about their actual product. This "Concept-ZT" boasts a 2.2 liter clean diesel engine, a technology which every major car-builder in Japan showed-off to the public, in form or another, at this year's show. Diesels are already super-popular in Europe, with some 60% of all vehicles sold there diesel-powered. Diesels are one of the next logical steps for "cleaning up" the vehicles and the air in the US, though it is going to take some strong convincing by those companies offering diesels to convince the US public that diesels are a quiet, reliable, fun to drive, clean and fuel-miserly engines worth a chance.
Click on this photo to enlarge it so you can read the specifications on this "clean diesel" 2.2 Liter engine. Sounds pretty interesting to us ... And please don't forget to 'click' on all the photos to see them in their full-frame beauty, and possibly what you've been missing!
At the Nissan exhibit, where their GT-R reigned supreme, thus cutaway of a diesel engine showed-off some of the company's "clean" technology.
A closer shot of the clean diesel technology being researched by Nissan. Note the turbocharger ... Which could mean enough horsepower for American drivers to enjoy themselves and be somewhat 'care-free' on the open road.
No doubt about it ... Honda's CR-Z was one of the surprise hits of the show, and one didn't have to speak with too many people from the company who were manning the exhibit to find out that the car will be Honda's hybrid answer to Toyota's Prius.
CR-Z may well be the Honda answer to the Prius. But they're starting out of the gate about 6 years too late, as Prius is already on its second-generation syling and much-newer powerplant. And what will Honda have to show when Toyota brings out the next Prius, a station wagon model, which will be their next hybrid effort ...
Is Honda repeating one of their biggest mistakes in the US marketplace? Remember the Insight, the first mass-produced (sort of) gas/electric hybrid sold in the USA? That was a Honda, but the car was way too small and tried to be way too efficient (and was so uncomfortable because of all that) so that the only people interested in spending any time in it at all were "mileage freaks", whose only goal in life is to use every last drop of gasoline in their car's tank ... And Insight wasn't Honda's only mistake in the hybrid market, as you'll find out in the next caption.
Not only did Honda badly mis-read the "green" market, as well as what Americans were willing to endure to save gas by bringing out the Insight, they made another mistake with the Accord hybrid. Remember that? Read on ... to the next caption ...
Honda introduced their Accord hybrid with a schizophrenic personality. You can't claim your car is a fuel-saving hybrid and at the same time call the Accord hybrid "the most powerful Accord every built", even if it is true. The two don't make sense when used together; it's sort of like "airline food" or "military intelligence" ... And Accord hybrid sales were so poor that the car was mercifully (and rightly) killed. American Honda couldn't make a real case for the car with US buyers. The undeniable truth was that the Toyota Camry hybrid sold for $5,000 less than the Honda Accord hybrid, and the Camry made an honest 40mpg, while the Honda was barely able to squeeze 30 mpg out of their proprietary gasoline/electric hybrid system.
No denying this Honda CR-Z concept is a very nice-looking car, but it might still be too small for American tastes where a hybrid is concerned. Toyota has proven that car-buyers need not suffer if they buy a hybrid; that a hybrid can easily fill most every slot in a car-makers line-up, even up to their most luxurious vehicle (as in the $124,000 Lexus LS600h L). And with Porsche using the Toyota system in their upcoming hybrid Cayenne SUV, and Nissan also using the Toyota-developed hybrid system in their Altima hybrid, the marketplace has decided, at least in this early stage of hybrid and other "green" vehicles, that Toyota is the big winner ... At least so far.
The styling group did a great job on this car; it's no secret that we'll see a production car which looks very much like this concept in only a few years, if we even have to wait that long. This is probably the basis for the 2009 or 2010 Civic, and it's no secret that wherever Honda fits this car into their sales plans, worldwide and in the US, it'll be a gas/electric hybrid and it will be popular ... As long as Honda doesn't do anymore 'downsizing', makes the interior comfortable for four and the engine/motor has enough 'ooomph' to "cut the mustard" on our freeways.
You've seen it before ... and now, here it is again! The most intriguing thing about Honda's FCX has always been the company's seeming powerful determination to actually bring this concept to production. That's why we called this car a "prototype" rather than a "concept". And now they've made the big announcement, that FCX will go into actual production sometime in the next year, and be available for lease (only) in several Honda markets, including the US. Honda says these "production" FCX models, which will be hand-built and no doubt cost Honda as much as or even more than $1 million per car, will utilize hydrogen as the basis of a true electrically-powered fuel cell automobile. Honda says they will lease it in the US for about $600 a month. Honda also has a refrigerator-sized "conversion" unit which they say will pull the hydrogen out of the natural gas lines which run into almost every home and building in the US. Imagine ... Making the fuel for your fuel cell car at home!
Yet another "tiny" car, this one from Honda, and this one is apparently on enough of a daily maintenance supply of steroids to produce a large, see-through glass roof and pushes the wheels to about as far as possible on PUYO's four corners.
The PUYO, Honda says, "is a fuel cell vehicle which was designed based on out-of-box thinking to provide fun for both the vehicle owner and people around them as well. 'PUYO' is a Japanese onomatopoeia (a small, furry animal with large eyes) that expresses the sensation of touching the vehicle's soft body. It is meant to convey a warm, friendly impression. "The PUYO represents a new idea in mobility that brings together 'clean', 'safe' and 'fun' functionality in an environmentally responsible, people-friendly minimalist design featuring an ultra-high efficiency, small frame and fuel cell technology to please both users and onlookers alike", continues the Honda pres release, which we usually hate to quote, but sometimes the Japanese way with English is just too much fun to pass up! The development theme for the PUYO exterior was to create a cornerless, 'Seamless Soft Box' form that is kind to both people and the environment. The goal was to create a personable design with the feel of an adorable pet, while taking advantage of the maximum spaciousness of the box-shaped design. The PUYO's 'gel body' features soft materials to promote greater real-world safety. Moreover, the body has been made luminescent to guide people into the proper operating position and notify them of the vehicle's condition, facilitating a more intimate relationship between people and their cars". Honda's masters of translation continues, "Developed to have a 'Silky Feel', the PUYO's interior is designed to provide a refreshing, people-friendly space imbued with a feeling of transparency. Features such as an instrument panel monitor, controls that take advantage of the elastic qualities of cloth to rise up when the vehicle starts up, luminous fluid meter displays, and a joystick for intuitive operation are all designed to gently support occupants' senses and sensibilities". Wow! I can not top that ...
Developed to have a 'Silky Feel', the PUYO's interior is designed to provide a refreshing, people-friendly space imbued with a feeling of transparency. Features such as an instrument panel monitor, controls that take advantage of the elastic qualities of cloth to rise up when the vehicle starts up, luminous fluid meter displays, and a joystick for intuitive operation are all designed to gently support occupants' senses and sensibilities
The Fit has been an unqualified success not only in Japan, but more than a few car-buyers in the US have decided that with gas prices and traffic the way they are, and with not too much relief seen in the near-future, cars like the Fit, along with Nissan's Versa and Toyota's Yaris are all selling well, as will the SMART, to be sold only at the 100-or-so dealers of the Penske Automotive Group in the US.
This new-generation of Honda's small car, called Fit, was another one of the cars which people were looking for at the show and asking about if someone on the train or walking down the street might have caught a look at our "media badges" from the show. This production Fit, in an undeniably interesting color, drew the eyes of at least as many people as were enhralled with Honda's CR-Z, which was just a few short feet away from the Fit.
The all-new Fit, which went on-sale in Japan in late October, 2007, was on quite a busy and noisy display. Honda says this about the car: "Since it was first introduced in 2001, the Fit has been widely acclaimed for its style, functionality, and outstanding fuel economy, with worldwide sales topping two million units". Fit has been in the US for only a year or two, yet the car we get next year will be the latest version of the Fit. And much to many a car enthusiast's thrill, a new Fit RS model (pictured here) will also be available.
With a 1.5 liter engine, as opposed to the peppy 1.3 liter model in the "stock" Fit, and all-wheel drive, one has the beginnings of a decent little WRC (World Rally Championship) car, and all of that coming around $20,000, depending in the dollar/yen valuation the very moment you buy the thing ... Fit RS must have the engineers and stylists at Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan and other car-makers more than a little worried. Honda people told us at the show, "It would be simple to install the car's entire drivetrain under the floorboards ...".
Looking very much the (potential) rally race car, Honda's all-new Fit RS cuts through the fat and gets right to the meat (I'll apologize now to all the vegans out there). With a larger engine and all-wheel drive available, Fit makes a statement about not only the quality of Honda's current and future crop of products, but that the company has successfully kept their eyes on the future like no other company in the world.